#notmypresident: Using Differences to Spark Change
January 20th, 2017 will undoubtedly go down as one of the saddest days in American history. It will go down as the day we the American people elected an unforgiving racist, sexist, privileged filthy rich joke to lead our country. As I have been preparing for this painful day I began to think on a famous quote by Maya Angelou which has been the theme of many organizations, campaigns, conferences, and speeches: “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” and although I completely catch the drift of this saying, and at a point in time would have campaigned behind it, now on this day I completely disagree. Yes we all want happiness, we all want love, we all want success and to live fulfilling lives. But let’s be very clear that our definition of these things is gravely different. Beyond that, the way we seek to accomplish said goals is different from conception to implementation.
Before I proceed let me note that I LOVE and admire my Soror Maya Angelou so no shade to her, but as I continued thinking on this quote that has really become a guiding principle for many, I began to think about how harmful it is to what we are really trying to accomplish. When seeking fulfillment it shouldn’t be about putting our differences aside so that we can work together, but instead putting our differences on the front lines and STILL being able to accomplish a goal. Now if those differences and opinions are rooted in ignorance and oppression… then let’s work to truly change those ideologies--- not ignore them, because after years of ignoring, sweeping under the rug, and setting aside--- we now have Donald J. Trump. Trump wasn’t an overnight sensation, he wasn’t just the backlash of white America… Trump was the side effect of us idealizing commonalities and not giving due respect and appreciation to our differences.
I think that this is especially significant in post-election discussion because many around the world are still dumbfounded about how this happened. How did one of the most powerful nations in the world elect someone who has publicly disrespected almost every oppressed group in the country he now has to lead. Well in the simplest way I usually say because America is full of ignorant closet racists, but we should be clear that many educated folk voted for Trump… many of our co-workers, doctors, teachers, and “friends” voted for this man. Are they all ignorant? No. Are they all racist? No. Do they have no compassion for women or disabled peoples? I’m not sure, but somehow they still voted for Trump.
I blame this idea that Trump wasn’t going to get elected because we American people have more sense than that… more morality than that and more commonalities than that. Trump supporters don’t go to bed feeling like horrible people. They made the choice that they believed was best for them. I would rather them own that, and we work through that than pretend that we still all have the same idea behind goals. We are different. The sooner we not only recognize but, appreciate and utilize those differences, the sooner we can make some actual progress: unmasked and transparent progress. Regardless, January 20th sucked.
So, now what?
Now more than ever it’s important that as an oppressed person who experiences daily trauma to take care of yourself. Mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually…. Don’t go into overload these next four years ESPECIALLY to my social justice fighters and advocates. Step back when you need to step back.
It’s crucial that we remain aware of what’s going on in our government. I know it’s not something that everyone is interested in but nevertheless, it’s important. Watch the news, stay up-to-date, and fight back.
Remember your voice matters
“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up governed by your inferiors.” - Plato, Plato actually couldn’t have snatched my edges any better than that. As much as I believe politics are one big joke, they have real life consequences for many people, so we absolutely cannot disengage.
Lastly, just keep living. I’m not a fan of living just to survive. If we go down let’s go down traveling, educating ourselves, drinking tequila sunrises and slaying in our magic. Keep Living.
If you found yourself confused by Trump’s election and now presidency, then It’s fair to say that you too have been pretending a bit. As much I am devastated about the Obama’s leaving The White House, I am ready to address some of the issues that were hidden behind us having a Black man as president. As gruesome as the truth may be, we must seek it in order to make true progress. So cheers, to the good the bad and the ugly differences that shape America.
If you're in Spain, and looking to vibe with like-minded individuals, don't forget to snag your ticket to the first LMDES event of 2017 in Madrid: Sake + Vibe!
Regennia Johnson is a 21 year old Black woman attempting to decolonize and disengage from the system that tells her she isn’t worthy. She loves Black people. She hates white supremacy and all of it’s amazingly organized systems. She is an alum of the University of Oklahoma and founder of Polish&Politics, an initiative that challenges the rhetoric surrounding Black women. Over the years Regennia has developed a special love for traveling and currently resides in Madrid, Spain. You can follow her on Tumblr @polishandpolitics.tumblr.com | Instagram: @simonsaysgennia & @polishandpolitics | Facebook: Regennia Johnson