Now what?

I won't pretend that I spent a lot of time over the last year paying attention to American politics.  One of the main reasons why I decided to leave America was that I could no longer emotionally handle the racial, political and social climate.  From Spring and Summer 2015, I wore a near permanent scowl.  I snapped and snarled at nearly every person I that I shared intimate space with.  My behavior was so appalling that for the first time in my life, I was fired from a job.

This was the same summer that Dylan Roof opened fire upon the parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.  This was the same summer that Sandra Bland was found dead in her jail cell.  It was a year after the Ferguson Uprising and the death of Eric Garner, that I decided that I could take no more and so, I boarded a flight to Madrid.  

During that year, I spent a lot of time complaining about the things I thought that Madrid was lacking.  Everything from a lack of infrastructure and organization, to insufficient amount of seasoning on the insufficient portion of food commonly known as tapas.

I never thought or talked about Donald Trump, except for Tuesday nights.  On Tuesday nights, I held a private English conversation with two Spanish doctors.  Fernando, the husband, was fascinated by Trump and talked about him often and his rising popularity often.

And every time, I gently shut down the conversation.  With an underserved air of confidence, I assured Fernando that Trump was as nothing more than a ridiculous spectacle who was only interested in growing his brand.  Emphatically, I insisted that Trump had no real chance of winning the election.

If I did choose to speak about politics at all, I would insist that the real problem was that lack of an interesting Democratic candidate.  Personally, I was not a huge fan of Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.  But I never imagined that either of them would ever have to compete with Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States.

Fast forward to November 8th.  I had come to accept that Donald Trump was the Republican nominee, however begrudgingly.  But I still thought of him as more of a nuisance.  An eccentric and erratic reality television star who, like many of his ilk, no one could understand exactly why or how he had amassed such a following--how he had achieved such a level of politicalized fame.

So on the night of November 8th, I fell asleep around 3am to the voice of the Rachel Maddow on a live stream from MSNBC.  I had spent the evening watching Buzzfeed videos even though I had to wake up at 6:45am to go to work.  At 2:30am, CET I finally decided to check the election results.  The six hour time difference meant that it was only 8:30pm back in New York.  At the time,  Hilary Clinton still had somewhat of a comfortable lead in the electoral college votes.  Everyone remarked with an air of surprise about how close the votes were.  Too close.  Yet and still, one the panel seemed confident that things would continue to work in favor of Hilary Clinton.

At 6:15 on Wednesday morning, my roommate slammed the bathroom door just a little too hard.  Immediately, I was awoken from an uneasy sleep.  I tried to check the time on my phone/alarm clock, but it was dead.  So, I turned on the stream back on to check the time and the results.  I expected to see a declared victory for Hilary.

I did not.  Instead I saw a see of red all over the center of my country, flanked by two small blue pieces on the sides.  And I saw that Donald Trump had overtaken Hilary Clinton with a number of electoral college votes.  Immediately, tears began to well up in my eyes.  This could not be happening.  This could not be real life.  Despite all my hesitation around the so-called liberal candidates, I did not expect this outcome.  I never imagined that a person so ridiculous, inexperienced and narcissistic could become the leader of the most powerful country on earth.

I spent the next hour trying to figure out how I was going to make it through a day of work.  How I was going to spend the day surrounded by well meaning, but giddy Spaniards who found the entire situation rather amusing.  I did not.  In fact, I barely made it 5 minutes in the teacher's lounge before I began to cry.  It was the first time that I had done so in years.

I had built up an emotional wall so high that I thought it to be impenetrable.  For so long, it seemed as though nothing or no one could bring it down.  Who would have thought that a man who proposed to build a wall would help to tear mine down.

The election of Donald Trump affirmed all of my fears and negative experiences as a American of sub-saharan African descent.  As the 30 year old daughter of people born into the Jim Crow South, I was no stranger to issues of race and racism. Yet, I never imagined that people could be so petty, so short-sided and so delusional to think that this would be the right direction for our country.

For the rest of the afternoon, I sat on my couch on my beautiful island drinking gin straight from the bottle. I texted my friends and family--all of whom were still in collective shock. When my white American roommate came home, I imagined that we would perhaps commiserate. He was in fact half-Mexican, so I imagined that he would have strong feelings. Why? I don't know. In the little time that I had known him, I noticed that had played things down the middle. You can do that when you have the level of privilege that he did. But I thought that his proximity to those who didn't might force him to actually take a stand and pick a side.

No such luck. He uttered what every so-called liberal was calling for on all the news outlets. Patience. "I'm going to wait to see what he does." He told me. I turned the bottle upside down in my mouth and vowed silently to myself that I would never trust him again.

These feelings of mistrust, of betrayal, has now been extended to anyone who knowingly voted to put this man in office. It is all I can do, because I have no idea what is happening. All I can say is, "What now?"