trump vs. the people

I’ve always been a person with about 5 different thoughts running through my head at once. I read somewhere that ‘To think 1 thought is very hard. To think 5 is easy.’ It stays with me, even now. And I assume, as someone with a lot of words racing through their mind, I’ve turned to paper countless times to try and order some of the nonsense. More often than not, I write things down to calm myself. I realise now, a lot of that was a refuge from mental illness, but more on that another time. What I mean to write about here is Barack Obama.
America isn’t my home, in fact, I’ve never stepped foot into it. But some part of me is housed there. It has always been through the Americas that I have made an immense amount of peace with my ‘blackness’. And I know enough of the country’s history to know that Trump winning office was not surprising. Under qualified people have won before – Reagan. People with no intention to better the country have taken office before – Nixon. This isn’t the first time Americans have had to endure. Maybe what is so shocking about Trump is that the divide isn’t as clear as white and black. There are white men and women who are outraged by his taking office. That’s a little new. Maybe the newest shock is that a woman ran by his side, won the popular vote, and still lost. Maybe the shock is the tri-President contradiction.
America had Obama. All policies aside, airstrikes and Guantanamo failure ignored, there was a President who was the people’s President. For the first time, a Black person stood at the apex of the country’s power and steered it through 8 rocky years. 8 great years. 8 bittersweet years. There was a goodbye to Obama we all knew was coming. He wasn’t able to take office again and the significance of having been honoured, having someone who for the first time, it truly felt like, deserved the American presidency, will always hold us in its sway. Obama winning was a victory for more than just a President, a party, a team, it was the victory of a whole nation of people, for people who are no longer with us, people who laid their lives on the lines for the possibility, people who lost their lives, lynched and beaten, because of the lack of possibility. Obama was like the first time it was realised equality could maybe be a thing; the first time it seemed enough ground had been covered to look back and realised how far we had walked. Let’s not be foolish though; black people were still being murdered on American streets and the blood of black people still dirtied American doorways. But, the President was black. If that wasn’t hope, what could be? President Barack Obama was hope.
Then, there was Hillary. The Clinton Regime still leaves a bitter taste. There are still families segregated by Bill’s decisions, still people of colour serving time in prisons for things their white equivalents have long since walked for. Cocaine on Wall Street is a party, Cocaine in Harlem is 20 to life. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s Monica Lewinsky. There’s the iconic ‘I never had sexual relations with that woman’ and unfortunately for Hillary, that leaves her as the iconic ‘scorned wife’. She’s never going to fare well in America’s eyes. Not as the ex-FLOTUS, not as the Secretary of Defence. What she has done, what she has made possible, I commend. She’s a woman working in a man’s world. The idea of a glass-ceiling has never existed for Hillary Clinton. If I could ask for anything, I’d ask people to admire the significance of what she’s achieved – a woman fronting a man’s domain. She’d never have won. Not even if her candidate had been her equal. Maybe she’s lucky her candidate was Trump. She was up against under qualified. If she was taking on someone we’d be comfortable taking office, I don’t think she’d have made it – not because she’s incapable, but because her political history hurts too much. She’s always going to be the ex-FLOTUS who imprisoned loved ones. That can’t be changed. Hillary was so close, but she was also so far.
Trump was expected. Nothing about him screamed impossible. He’s uninformed, or rather, he misinforms. What sells better than sex, you ask: misinformation. Nothing flies faster than falsity. When you make up your own rules, you can never lose. No candidate before has taken slandering the way Trump has; he has taken a petty last resort to a proud sport. Nobody has taken motifs like Trump has; even Hitler didn’t suggest a damn wall. A wall is somehow more domineering, more sinister; a wall is permanent segregation. It’s not just rejection but ignorance, primacy dancing with exclusivity. Trump wants to shut out what he doesn’t agree with – he quite literally does, screaming over reporters. Trump is the people. He’s what happens when we’re allowed to run into the horizon without something there to tell us when to stop. He’s the kid who has never been reprimanded, never been taught what the centre of the universe really is. He’s unsurprising, obvious, loud…he’s uncouth when I’m feeling nice and petrifying when I’m angry. Trump, however, called for action in a way that appeals to humans best. Politics is slow moving, it’s policies, it’s agendas, it’s small print and footnotes, it’s never what we’re promised. You want a gender equality? You’re going to need 50 years worth of political progress first. Trump doesn’t promise a bill or a law or a new programme, Trump promises physicality in the face of the always impalpable law of the nation. Trump bypasses government workings, he bypasses the idea of taking things officially. Where a politician would call for tighter immigration law, Trump suggests to you a wall. A wall is more effective than a more complicated immigration process, than tighter regulation of the country’s borders, of stricter observation of immigrant document papers. A wall allows what a law can’t: impenetrability and finality. Trump appealed to what we all want most, a guarantee. He’s a sure winner.
So when you mix the three together; a hope that must be said farewell to, a woman with a painful past and a man who shouts out a deal we can’t ignore…only one can survive. Nothing about Hillary losing shocks me, nothing about Trump winning has confounded me. What hurts though, what aches and what burns, is that we have to say goodbye to our creator of hope to make way for a man who guarantees us something now far worse than misinformation, bigotry.
The lights have gone out. Americans are living in a world that no longer seems to be theirs. It feels someone lost control of the wheel and it seems things have gone so far back it will be centuries before America makes it back. Its 4 years of hell. And this is all a worsened grief for every person of colour, especially the women. It’s a world regressing, at times like this, which is why speaking up is so important. Trump is not a man we should mock. To make light of him is to make light of the situation. He’s a man who is now the president. Americans have to speak up for what they refuse to lose next; their rights, their safety, the confidence in their country. The presidency isn’t in America’s control but its beliefs, what it holds to be correct, is. Obama gave America hope, and America failed to vote hope back in, the least Americans could do is keep hope alive amongst themselves.

When Science Met History

“She had been so quiet the entire time, and distant, and untelling, and suddenly with the meal over, she lent forward suddenly in her seat and she said, ‘What is there in physics for you?’. I said, taken aback but unwilling to fluster in front of the most serene person I’d met, ‘The whole world. What’s in history for you?’ and she smiled and said, ‘I’m not sure history is where I should be, if I’m honest. Sometimes I think I should be where you are, looking at the smallest thing and seeing everything.’ And I remember asking what she meant. She said, ‘Don’t the physicists say that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction?’ and I was kind of scared to speak because I had lost the thread of the conversation and so I nodded and she said, ‘Well, do you believe it?’ and I said ‘Of course I believe it. It’s science.’ and she smiled and said ‘So what I mean is, you look at the glass on this table and conclude there is upward force keeping it up and a downward force keeping it still, excuse my wording, but that’s the general concept of the science, yes?’ I nodded. And she said, ‘And you look at this glass, of millions of glasses in the world, this one no more significant than any other, and see every other glass out there. But also every other chair on the ground, book on a shelf, house on a road, person on the street because for every action, there has to be an equal and opposite reaction?’ I nodded. And she continued, ‘So it would be nice if that was transferable. If I could look at history, at humans, and say for all the wrong, there is an equal and opposite right. For all the hurt, there must be an equal and opposite comfort. But that isn’t true. History reads a lot more like regardless of all the right, there will always be wrong that rises. If History wrote Newton’s law of motion, it would be that ‘for every action, there is a reaction’.’ And I remember sitting in silence and trying to find the point and she took a sip of her drink and seemed to smile with every other facial feature beside her mouth and she said ‘What I mean is Physics is indiscriminate law. What happens, happens and it always will and always has, as long as the math is right. Physics provides undeniable reassurance and security that the world is. History provides undeniable anxiety and disquiet that the world is.’ And I have never forgotten to remind myself that beneath all her encouragement and faith in the human race, she knows better than anyone what the world can be and I admire her courage every day to wake up and believe in us, even so, in spite of the science.”

-The Scientist


“I was raised in a scientific household. I was told nothing was fact until all other routes had been tried and disproved. There is no science in history, I admit. It’s easy to invent prediction from past. Even if you were to make a hypothesis, you would never be expecting to conclude on world peace. [smiles] But, yet, I have faith. While collectively we may not always do right, there is proof we do feel a magnetism to what we could call ‘good’. Humans are compassionate, which means benevolence is in our best advantage and there is, then, good reason to hope that should evil rise, there will be few brave enough or compassionate enough to find what is right. For every villain, there is hero. I cannot promise that this will be equal, nor exactly opposite, as the science and the facts don’t disprove otherwise. But I can tell you, there is good reason, sensible cause, to hypothesise that this could be so. And here is our little victory over science, my fellow historians, science is nondiscriminatory. What happens, will always happen, so long as the math is right. Which means the laws of science are fixed. Humans are not so inflexible. Just because we haven’t always found good so instantaneously does not mean it will always be so. In fact, there is no science to disprove that, in history, for every evil there is a greater benevolence. We have the magnificent task of creating the laws we intend to live by. History does not work on proved and tried testing, it works on human action. What history does not account for is the reaction to equal or oppose each action. That is all for us to decide. There is no reason why we can’t write the equation to be exactly the reaction we desire. Granted, writing an equation without a framework can be daunting so I suggest we start somewhere basic but somewhere judicious. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. For now, I think that simple law could be the beginning of something hopeful.”

-The Historian

29 october 17

Dear Depression,

I hope you’re okay. Well, not really. Okay would mean you’ve latched on to someone else and that’s not what I want. I guess I hope you’re not miserable. Which is ironic. But that’s what this past month has done; made me somewhat ironic.

I know now there is forgiveness in letting go of things, of releasing control and relinquishing judgement to a status of irrelevance. It brings you a comfort that can only be described as fear. When you have no parameters to judge your life by, no order, no knuckle-whitening grasp on norms, no judgement calls to rule your standards, your life can become a full force tornado of everything. If you let go of everything, you don’t have nothing. Instead, you can have everything. This is far scarier. And far more comforting.

Don’t have me misunderstood, I did not let go of you. I lost you. In the chaos of moving. That is something else entirely. But I used to think of you as something that was either present or absent. Now you are more like a layer of paint on my walls. You being there, your presence, is irremovable. I can paint over you and chip you off. That’s it, more or less. You’re presence wanes, takes new shapes, transforms, like something lunar. I’m happier with you like this. I don’t thank you for my happiness because you’re gone because now I know I can be happy even when you’re here. It’s a more complicated process but if I let go of you, which I have, you can always come back. I could always brush your fingertips while trying to reach the stars. I could accidentally open my door to light and find you in my hallway. This is what I live with now. It’s scarier. But it’s more comforting. You are always a possibility but so is everything else.

So I hope you’re okay. I hope you’re enjoying being free for a while. I hope you’re keeping your eyes wide open at all there is out there now that you don’t need to fixate on me. We’ve lost each other and maybe that was our breath of fresh air. We don’t need to find anyone else, or anything else. Just knowing that there is more out there, releases us. How could we have been so narrow-sighted? There is a big blue world out there and not all of it is going to love either of us, or be good to us both. But, not all of it will punish us either.

We were cruel to each other. We loathed the other’s presence but we never left, hated it when we managed to and were all the more cruel when we came back together. We were bitter. I’ve let go of that now. I’m trying to be softer. So I hope you’re okay.

And it doesn’t matter if you don’t hope that I am okay. I’m trying to be softer and that means a lot of things. It means ceasing to expect and starting to accept. I hope you’re okay and I’ll accept whatever it is you hope for me. But I won’t expect it.

Write to me if you want to. We lived under the same skin. Your voice is with me always. In the creak of a door and the drip of the taps, but, still, it would be nice to hear from you directly.

Yours, softly.