I am fascinated by the fact there is calm in the eye of a cyclone. Though I don’t actually understand all of the scientific reasons for that fact, it is a perfect metaphor for our situation in America at the moment. This last contentious election season and its outcome have created a cyclone for us as a people and it can be helpful for us to look for the eye in this storm.
It is important to find a calm place so we can regain our sense of balance and to provide ourselves the opportunity to hear what we are being called to do in this time. I remember that there were so many white folks who thought when President Barack Obama was elected that their world had come to an end. Primarily their reaction was generated by the fact of his race. There were protests and much of that reaction went on to fuel the fires that created the tea party. The current president-elect contributed generously to that storm by developing the controversy about President Obama’s birthplace and managed to create a movement around that false issue.
However, the current response to the president-elect is not about race; it is about principle, and though it will have to become more than a protest in order to matter, it is important to understand it. First of all, I understand many of the reasons why Donald Trump won the Electoral College. Our government needs to become more involved in promoting the general welfare and really looking after the well-being of all the citizens of this land.
There are many white folks suffering from the loss of jobs to technology and other reasons. There are more white folks on welfare and receiving food stamps than black people. This is a fact that is not talked about enough. We have to have a country that is run by leaders who understand they have to represent everyone and that the welfare of all of the people matters equally. So Trump made the disenfranchised, struggling white folks think that he will look out for them.
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It is sad to see how little truth there is in that claim. If those folks could have been able to reason with themselves, it would have occurred to them that a person born with the so-called silver spoon in his mouth was not going to be their best ally. But emotions and fear were running too high for reason to have a chance to be heard. We can take a look at the folks who are surrounding Trump and who are being selected to staff his administration and realize quickly that the disenfranchised white person still does not have an ally.
People of color and people who fall into any other categories of difference understood all along that this was not a candidate who would be an ally for them. But in the case of African Americans, we are used to not having an ally in the White House which is the reason there was so much delight about Obama’s election.
Though well intentioned white folks had no reason to fear Obama, it is not the case for well intentioned black folks with the beginning of the Trump administration. This is true because Trump led the kind of campaign which gave license to racist, misogynist and xenophobic expressions under the guise of being liberated from political correctness. The issue of respecting people of color, women and immigrants, is not and never has been about political correctness — it is about morality and freedom.
So, here we stand. A divided nation. This is not new. We were always divided. The challenge to well intentioned people is to find the path to the eye of the cyclone and staying in that safe harbor until the way ahead becomes clear.
This column by Catherine Meeks, Ph.D., appears twice monthly. Meeks is also a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.