Donald Trump is the president-elect. Hillary Clinton has failed in her second bid to become the first female president of the United States of America. While virtually no one (including me) saw this as even remotely possible when Trump officially entered the race 17 months ago, it amazes me to see how many people are walking around shocked, dazed, and devastated, now that the unimaginable has happened. Did these people really go to bed last night believing Clinton had it in the bag?
For those of you who believe the election results have revealed “the truth” about how America feels about minorities, immigrants, women, and so on, where do you think you live? Tell me the name of that magical land in your head. (Obamaland, perhaps?)
The election and re-election of President Barack Obama is graphic evidence that we have come a long way, as a nation. However, the reality of President-elect Trump is incontrovertible proof that we still have a lot of growing, maturing, and work to do, especially as relates to the racism and sexism, which remains a complex and indelible part of our national legacy and psyche.
And newsflash; it is possible for people—friends, college classmates, co-workers, bosses, employees, neighbors, even relatives—to be nice, neighborly, helpful, friendly, and even loving toward you, and not agree with or share your beliefs. That is what America is all about, people. (This is also why labeling the followers of any presidential candidate as “deplorable” can be a deadly mistake in any election, regardless of party or person.)
The question is not, “Are we woke?” It’s, “Why did you go to sleep?”
And I am not trying to hear African Americans who say they are leaving the country now that Trump is president-elect. Of course, only a privileged few black people have that luxury. (Hmmm… Do I want to move to Canada, France, or someplace nice in West Africa? Talk about first-world problems.)
If you’re determined to leave (as is your right), can you please do so quietly? I mean, is it necessary to announce it to everyone on Facebook? Because doing so does not exactly boost the morale of the vast majority of us who, whether by choice or not, will still be here striving for our continued progress and empowerment against daunting obstacles, ranging from income inequality and economic unfairness, to failing public schools and the systematic criminalization of black men.
Those loudly broadcasting their plans to flee the country in response to the reality of President-elect Trump sadly remind me of the higher-income, better educated African Americans who abandoned our inner cities in the ’70s and ’80s, decimating tax bases and leaving middle and lower-income black people to fend for themselves. The African Americans who can afford to leave the country also happen to be those best equipped and most needed to defend the best interests of black people during a Trump presidency.
So if you have to go, go. But don’t be so loud and gleefully self-righteous about it, okay? (By the way, if a Trump presidency turns out to be the global disaster it has the potential to be, is there anywhere else in the world that you can go that would really be safer than staying in America?)
Note: I give a temporary, one-time pass to eligible voters under the age of 30. (This includes three of my four adult children.) Most of you have never been on the losing side of an election before or even know what it’s like to not have a black presidential candidate to vote for. Welcome to reality; the person you vote for will not always win, no matter how much you want him/her to, how passionately you believe in their policy positions, nor how vehemently you hate the opposing candidate and his/her policy positions. Fortunately, I learned that lesson from the beginning of my life, as a voter during the Reagan era. I still have difficulty referring to the former Washington National Airport as Reagan National. I had to wait until the Clinton era, the fourth presidential election, in which I was eligible to vote, to end up on the winning side. Of course, we’re already used to seeing President-elect Trump’s name on virtually everything.
The question for all of us is, what are you going to do now? What we do between presidential elections matters far more than what we do every four years in November. Stand up and live out what you believe in every day, not just election day. If you don’t—if you give up and back out just because the election didn’t go your way, you’re just not serious. Have several seats. Or better, go back to sleep and stay out of everyone else’s way.
Let’s stop pointing fingers and blaming each other (blacks versus whites, voters versus non-voters, and so forth) for the outcome. Credit for winning goes to President-elect Trump and his supporters. Responsibility for losing goes to Clinton and her team (and remember, this was her second failed attempt to make her case for becoming our president). The same America that chose President Barack Obama twice in a row is the same America that chose President-elect Trump yesterday.
The election is over, but our work as American citizens is never done. Let’s get on with it.
By the way: I blew off voting in the first presidential election, in which I was eligible to vote, Jimmy Carter versus Ronald Reagan, in 1980. I was an unengaged, politically apathetic 20-year-old undergrad at Rutgers. My wake-up call came via Reagan policies that virtually wiped out financial aid and resulted in many of my classmates being forced to abandon their college educations for lack of resources. I barely made it; my younger brother sent me money to buy books for my final semester. It was a catalyst for my transformation into a black student leader, campus activist against South African apartheid, and editor of a campus newspaper for black and Latino students. I have never forgotten that lesson. Win or lose, I will always vote—and I’ve stayed woke ever since.
The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Black Enterprise.
Black Enterprise Executive Editor-At-Large Alfred Edmond Jr. is an award-winning business and financial journalist, media executive, entrepreneurship expert, personal growth/relationships coach, and co-founder of Grown Zone, a multimedia initiative focused on personal growth and healthy decision-making. This blog is dedicated to his thoughts about money, entrepreneurship, leadership and mentorship. Follow him on Twitter at @AlfredEdmondJr.