How do we go from Obama to Trump?

Eight years ago I felt so happy.  I voted for Obama because I trusted him, unlike any other political figure.  I believed in him.  I fell for the dream.  Believed in the change.  I knew through big decisions and small he would make my life better personally, and impact my country and my people in amazing ways.  I would think about the fact that he was going to be president and feel calm.

Today I feel displaced.

I spent November 9th thinking about “the bubble,” trying to understand the Trump voters.  I try to expose myself to different people, places, things, ideas-  but do I actually surround myself with the same people, places, things, ideas as everyone else on my Facebook feed?  Do I live in a bubble?  Am I trapped here?  Am I going about the world all wrong?  This was the existential displacement.

There is also this feeling of displacement within my own country.  How could I go from being so proud of being an American to feeling so humiliated by this place?  I know this country has done terrible things to its citizens.  But I don’t remember every feeling so ashamed by something that happened during my lifetime like this.  Literally wanting to cover my face and hide at the thought of Trump’s next tweet.

And then there is this city I’ve called home the last 8 years—Washington, D.C. When I arrived, it was bursting with promise, brimming with the excitement that was attached to the Obamas.  Restaurants opened.  A couple of reality shows tried to film here.  It became—dare I say it—cosmopolitan.  I watched D.C. change before my eyes, and I loved it.  And I loved my D.C. job—serving the public, being surrounded by people driven by public interest. Now I feel an overwhelming longing to go home to New York.  It’s like all of a sudden, I don’t belong here.

For a few days after the election I felt eerily calm, while the people around me cried or ranted.  It was either shock or denial.  Only recently have I started to feel anxious.  I hadn’t been writing, so it started to seep into my Write Practice post, which is supposed to be apolitical and innocuous (first time my post has ever been rejected).  So here I am.  Trying to write my way through.  I wrote a letter to President Obama last night to say thank you.  The only thing I can think of to do right now is to write.

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Will black lives ever matter?

I have been uncharacteristically silent on the police takings of black lives, male lives in particular.  While acutely aware of the structural forces disadvantaging black people in America, I’ve always been hopeful.  I speak about it because I believe, piece by piece, day by day things can change.

But when a child is stalked and killed, and his killer is released; when a man’s neck is gripped tighter when he says he can’t breathe; when a police officer shoots one his citizens in the back without a second thought; when our protectors see no problem shooting a man during a traffic stop with a child in the back seat…

It makes me feel like the destiny of blacks in America is actually fated.  Out of our control. And I shouldn’t be posting anything when I feel that way.

Black lives matter.

Why do we need to tell people that?  In every other post on this blog I’m like- hello!  It’s ok to depict stories about black lifePeople can relate to us because we’re humans!  See our humanity!  I say this frustrated, but hopeful that the tides are changing.

But then black men (women too, but I think the relationship between black men and police is unique one, worthy of distintion) are literally just shot, killed, for no f-ing reason.  And I realize, people really can’t see our humanity.

As Obama said in his Howard commencement speech, “the tie that binds blacks in America is the particular awareness of injustice and unfairness and struggle.”

When people in 2016 are killed by state actors due to the color of their skin, it’s hard to be hopeful.  It’s hard not to see slights and injustices everywhere.  It’s hard not to be angry.  It’s hard not to feel desperate.  If you’re black.

That’s how I feel.

What I think, is that there are things I, and others can do.  We can tell the stories of black lives.  We can read the stories of black lives.  We can run for office.  We can support organizations combating structural racism.  That’s what I think, and what I know.  But I feel numb.