I work in a predominately White conservative suburb about 20 miles outside of Philadelphia, PA. Leading up to the election, the TRUMP/PENCE lawn signs were sprouting up wild. Now needless to say most of the people I work with are White and conservative, and if the proliferation of Trump signs is any indication I can safely say that most of them voted for Donald Trump.
Now if you're a person of color in a situation like mine, surrounded by conservative White co-workers, you may have noticed a sudden shift in their attitude towards you. Think about the interactions you've had with these co-workers over the past three days. Have you noticed a certain awkwardness when they encounter you? Perhaps a certain reluctance? Well hold on to that observation for a bit, because I'm going to come back to this.
Remember back in 2008 when we elected then Senator Barack Obama as the First African American President of the United States? I've been thinking a lot about that evening since Tuesday. I remember being so overwhelmed and so amp'd with joy that I needed to go out into the streets. To this day I'm not sure where I was going, or what I was expecting. It just felt like I had to go out and find others with which I could share my joy.
On my walkabout, I encountered some students from the University of the Arts near where I live. They were holding up pro-Obama signs and yelling to the cars passing by on south Broad Street, and the cars were honking back in approval (mostly). Inside of an hour, that small gathering of about 10-12 students swelled, first into the hundreds, then into the thousands. South Broad street was blocked from City Hall to well past South Street. Traffic on 15th and Market was blocked because people were doing the Electric Slide in the streets. The air that night was electric. I remember a Black woman in her 50s, a total stranger, who broke down and just cried in my arms because she never thought she'd see a moment like this. When she could show her children and grandchildren that someone who looks like THEM could achieve such greatness. And when Obama gave his acceptance speech, the silence was surreal as people gathered around car radios to hear the words that gave so many of us reason to hope and to be proud. Going into work the next day, at the same predominately White conservative environment where I work now, I was on clouds 9, 10, 11, 12 through about 20 for two solid weeks. And then on January 20, 2009 watching the inauguration on TV, talking to my mother on the phone, neither of us could hold back the tears as we saw Barack and Michelle Obama dancing to Beyonce singing "At Last". Even now as I write this I find myself weeping as such a joyful moment that I fear we will never experience again, and for fear of what is to come.
Now I want to take you back to my thoughts at the beginning of this post, and the interactions with your White conservative co-workers. Now odds are that not all of them voted for Trump, nor am I saying this is an indicator of who did. But did you notice since Wednesday the downcast eyes as you approach them, the mono-syllabic conversations? For those of you who work at a desk, did you note a marked decrease in phone calls, and a corresponding increase in one and two line emails and unanswered voicemail?
Most of all, notice the considerable lack of joy on the faces of these individuals. No gloating, no self-congratulations, no back slapping or glad handling with their fellow Trump voters. These people are suffering from a mental state to which many conservatives are unaccustomed. It's called SHAME. It's one thing to troll social-media when you can hide behind avatars of Gadsden (Don't Tread On Me) Flags, American Flags, Bald Eagles, and Guns. But it's another thing altogether when the object of your resentment is in the cubicle right next to you.
No. These people neither joyful nor proud of their choice for President. They acted out of what they call "economic anxiety" but what the rest of us saw from the beginning as racial resentment that others are acquiring rights and privileges that they have been able to take for granted, and now fear may be taken away from them. From the beginning of Obama's presidency these White conservative co-workers of ours - who spent the past 8 years flashing us their best Colgate smile and treating us with an almost sickening false politeness - have been harboring the fear that we might do to them what they've been doing to everyone else for the past...well...forever. So, of course they were going to take the first chance they got to "put us all back in our place" with a man who is wholly unqualified for the office of the presidency. Now they're suffering early onset voter's remorse as they have to face the co-workers who will be affected by their down-low racism.
If there is any solace we can take from this election, it's that these people will NEVER be happy. They will forever wear the shame and guilt of having chosen racism and bigotry over leadership, and further dividing this nation. Make no mistake. There is no joy in Trumpville.