A blog by Amanda Alcantara

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Hate has already trumped love: thoughts on the election

Photo by Amanda Alcantara, December 2015

i believe in living
i believe in birth.
i believe in the sweat of love
and in the fire of truth.
And i believe that a lost ship,
steered by tired, seasick sailors,
can still be guided home to port.
- i believe in living, Assata Shakur
I wasn't a Hillary supporter, and because I don't live in a swing state, the threat of Trump winning in New York wasn't as imminent so I voted with my heart for Jill Stein.

Yet I truly didn't expect that so many other people's hearts would be with Trump. I guess I'd like to think of people as loving, and though Hillary Clinton wasn't always pushing for a loving rhetoric (see superpredators comment), the Democrats co-opt movement language so they come off as the most loving of all, as the ones who protect everyone, as the ones with the most inspirational videos from celebrities urging people to vote against hate.

Many other organizers who I'm surrounded by have expressed that they aren't at all surprised, and I respect them and admire them for not having held back from understanding the reality of the racism we're in, other folks who constantly experience outward hate and racism like Muslim sisters, trans-sisters, weren't surprised either. I can't help but still be heartbroken that people chose to keep pushing for this racist agenda. I was definitely falling for the illusion of inclusion: there's growing diversity on TV, and a black family has been in the White House for 8 years.

Yet diversity on TV hasn't stopped police from shooting black people,
it hasn't stopped Obama from dividing families via deportations,
it hasn't ended the prison industrial complex,
and it hasn't provided any sort of monetary relief for the economic violence our people are enduring.

With this election, there's this doom that feels like a darkness approaching, knowing that the harm inflicted on our people is now being validated. We're being gaslit: told that we're the ones to blame for the poverty that plagues this country.

I thought of my plans for this upcoming year and how they might change, I thought of the people in my immediate family who don't have private insurance. I've been feeling pressure to stop hiding parts of me because of the significance in showing our full selves and showing all parts of who we are, including the not-always visible parts that could be discriminated against or marginalized ranging from mental health to sexuality.

I was in New Hampshire the weekend before the elections to visit Dartmouth College and while I was there I understood what it was like to live in a swing state. The man sitting next to me on the bus on the way there seemed so bothered by my presence, I had to yell at him just so that he could move and I could use the restroom. My ambiguity made some folks not know how to react towards me at first, perhaps the people there thought I was mixed race black and white (which I am), but people reacted differently towards me when they found out that I was also Latina. The man driving me to the hotel completely stopped talking to me when I shared what I went to do there: give a speech at a Latin gala. He then did a double take when he handed me my bag which has the word "Mexico" on it in big colorful letters.

I was reminded that New York truly is a bubble in its own way--though hate lives here too and this past week the holes in the bubble have made it to the public eye (partly due to media's sensationalism which got us here and not necessarily that these holes weren't already there): people are committing hate crimes, people are drawing hate symbols like swastikas on NYC student campuses, and maps showing the different places that voted red prove that Trump supporters live among us. There are probably white people in my life who voted for Trump silently. And there are people of color with selective hearing who might feel included and activated by his message of "Make America Great Again"... Living in poverty under capitalism can do that, it can make you see others like you as competitors and not members of your own community. It doesn't create room for an environment of solidarity and for some immigrants here who are documented (for example) just that tiny tinge of privilege is enough to feel superior.

The reaction by many self-labeled allies has been exhausting. The slogan "Love trumps hate" is becoming the new message to combat this Republican win, to show solidarity with those who will hurt the most. Perhaps it is also a safe message for the many liberals hurting from knowing they won't see a woman as president this time around. New York, like I said before, is it's liberal own bubble so liberals here have been showing outrage or having actions like posting loving notes on the 42nd street train.

"Notes of Hope for America" seen on Times Square subway

But unfortunately, hate already trumped love. And it has, and it will continue to do so unless we take action. A movement for love isn't enough because it could easily lead to lack of accountability, and it could lead to the continued illusion of a post-racial society. The reality is the white working class, including over 50% of white women, have already shown that love as a movement isn't enough.

Safe words like "Multiculturalism" need to become "decolonize", "Diversity" needs to become "anti-oppression", "Inclusion" needs to become "Reparations", and "Love" needs to become explicitly "Anti-hate". We must name the ills in our society, understand them and strategize against them...hugs and kisses aren't a cure.

Because of this safe liberal discourse that makes white allies and those who enjoy privilege comfortable, the need to build a strong third party that isn't afraid to speak up against this is more important now than ever: the rest of the people in this country are seeing how the Democratic party has failed us by deliberately and irresponsibly uplifting Trump's image without care for how his rhetoric of hate would affect Muslims, LGBTQ folks, immigrant families, disable folks, and so many other marginalized communities. The DNC has been irresponsibly lifting Trump's message without thinking of the effect it was having in the heart[lessness] of the white supremacist class (who is now being blatantly legitimized). People have seen how time and time again the democrats will co-opt our movements to create reforms that don't lead to real change, meanwhile many keep choosing them as the party of their choice out of fear of the lesser of two-evils.

Well, check this out: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, and the third-party candidate that got the most votes wasn't even the most left-leaning one, but rather socially liberal yet fiscally conservative economically Gary Johnson. Your fear of lesser of two-evils wasn't enough to keep blatant and outward HATE from winning within this system. Proof that the system must be dismantled. (And I don't necessarily believe in the popular vote, because it can easily lead to minority interests being completely disregarded...I believe in discussions, and in a government that leads from the bottom up, in people owning the means of production, in dismantling the 1%, I believe in a government that protects the people and not corporations).

And all of this is exhausting. It's demoralizing. To be honest I've already been exhausted and when this election happened, my body had an adverse reaction to it. I'm still trying to grasp not what a Trump presidency could mean, because the 100 days have already been laid out by his campaign, because he's already started selecting white supremacists to be in his team, because he's been clear about his goals and his target. What I am trying to grasp is simply that it happened, that hate trumped love, and that now we have to do the work on the ground to truly protect ourselves from a government that won't even pretend to protect us. What I'm trying to grasp is the ridiculous reaction by politicians to be tolerant of Donald Trump, to accept his message. The call to be understanding to Trump supporters when Trump is a rapist who also doesn't care for women, the call for love and unity when what we need is to call-out the ridiculousness of having someone so OPENLY sinister take the key to the most powerful imperialist country in the world.

Hell no. Like 2008 Green Party VP Candidate Rosa Clemente has said, I'm ready to be #ungovernable.

Michelle Alexander wrote the following message on Facebook last night:

"The truth is we are stumbling badly in large part because we are just beginning to learn to walk. Roughly 50 years ago, we still had an explicitly racist system of laws and government: a racial caste system. It was not a true democracy by any stretch. We still don’t have a real democracy. And we’ve managed to rebirth a new caste-like system in recent years, a new Jim Crow. In the words of William Faulkner, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

What many of us have been attempting to do — build a thriving multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-faith, egalitarian democracy out of the rubble of slavery and genocide — has never been achieved in the history of the world. Some say it can never be done.

Is America Possible?"
Like I said before, I'm really still trying to grasp it. I can't reconcile that there's that much hate brewing. Racism backed by capitalism is a truly strong driving force since the days when the first slaves were brought to the Americas to do forced labor.

 I wish anger could continue being my response, but I'm honestly saddened by everything. I feel despair. I remember always wondering when do revolutions happen: is it in times of difficulty or in times of some relief? And the assumption is always that it's in times of difficulty. I've heard thoughts sharing that maybe it's a good thing that Trump won, in order to galvanize the interest of those who haven't been involved in community organizing. I personally think it's horrible that he won, and with the normalizing of his presidency that's already happening like President Obama meeting with him and the aforementioned call for unity, also the media's complete shift from sensationalizing Trump to this weekend's cover on People magazine, I worry that people do let him govern, and that people don't come out to raise hell when his presidency is set to begin. I worry that the times of difficulty may not be so clear. That the masses will not be activated.

Yes, racism is real in America, I know that. And many blatant examples like the ongoing attack on the water protectors at Standing Rock, and the lack of accountability for the contamination of water in Flint, Michigan show that this racism is already legitimized by the state. But like I said before, to have people actively choose that hurts.

There's a Super Moon, a record breaking one, lighting up the sky tonight, decorating the beginning of the week. And I need her more than ever, I need her motivation more than ever. And I need to realize too that that actually does also come from within...we are our own moons. And like I mentioned, many have been here doing this work. But now it needs to be done harder, and at least in New York we can only brace ourselves to fight blatant racism on the hands now of civilians (as opposed to just NYPD); in a city where micro-aggressions have been normalized (and are often internalized), let's not allow the same to be said of macroaggressions.

This weekend I didn't do anything that I had set out to do in terms of work. I just partied at night and slept during the day. And it reminded me of the safe spaces we have carved out for ourselves like in queer spaces in Brooklyn, Dominican restaurants in Queens. I saw little girls dancing to music from central america, and my heart swelled with the need to protect them. This reminded me of why we fight, it reminded me of what there is to be lost, but also the need for liberation we have been fighting for that is still to be gained.

Community altar at Mystica Roots Farmraiser in Brooklyn, New York


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