Public Enemy’s seminal release, Fear of a Black Planet, may have come out over 26 years ago, but the sociopolitical conditions that inspired the album’s title are still evident today. Nothing made that more clear than the tumultuous 18 months that led up to the 2016 presidential election, which concluded Tuesday with Donald Trump declared America’s next commander-in-chief.
With this loud rejection of blackness and racial progress, black Americans are reminded of the reality of our white planet, so to speak, and all the fear that comes along with that.
Over the course of the past year and a half, Trump ran a campaign of extreme vagueness when it came to policy and extreme bias when it came to rhetoric—he attacked women, children, Muslims, Mexicans, “the Blacks.” Instead of turning voters off with his words, Trump actually galvanized them, especially white, super-conservative and low-key racist ones.
Trump’s victory is a blow to many Americans of all backgrounds, but it’s undoubtedly the most ominous for the Americans he attacked. As a black man, I’m anxious about what’s next, but I’m also concerned as a new dad. Almost three months ago, I became the father of a baby girl—a black baby girl—and I cannot consider the meaning of a Trump win without thinking about what her experience will be growing up in a country that rejected the legacy of the first black president and promise of experienced female leadership to embrace someone like Trump.
As The Donald grew in popularity so did the boldness of his followers, who no longer felt stifled by the constraints of living in a “post-racial society.” After almost eight years of Barack Obama serving as the nation’s first African-American president, Trump provided the platform for hatemongers to salivate at the idea of making “America great again,” which translates to “Make America a place again where a person of color could not and should not call 1600 Pennsylvania Ave home.”
Indeed, it was fear of black political power and even black lives mattering that catapulted Trump to the top of the Republican ticket, and ultimately into the White House. With this loud rejection of blackness and racial progress, black Americans are reminded of the reality of our white planet, so to speak, and all the fear that comes along with that.
The above video may seem overly dramatic or exaggerated to some, but it encapsulates some of the fear that many felt on Election Night and likely still do. As the polls began to project Trump as the winner, one of my co-workers, who happens to be white, began to visibly sob. I soon found myself fighting back tears of my own and an uncontrollable urge to hurl. I was truly sick to my stomach at the mere thought of spending the next four years under the tyrannical rule of President Trump. And, as a father of a newborn, I can’t help but think of my own child when I watch two black boys sobbing uncontrollably in fear for their lives because of Trump.
I woke up the morning after the election to my wife in tears, as she couldn’t stop thinking about what our daughter’s future will look like under President Trump.
While my daughter is far too young to understand the political process and how there are no guarantees that the person you want to win will, I struggle with how I will one day explain this moment in history to her; how to make sense of an outcome that feels undeniably wrong. I would cry too if the experience of injustice wasn’t already all too familiar for me. That’s one experience I didn’t want to pass down to my daughter—at least not this soon—but after only just 91 days on this planet, she’s already lived long enough to come face-to-face with her first instance of disparity. I’ll assume the same is true of the young boys in the clip, as one tearfully proclaims, “I don’t wanna die.”
That statement is tragic in and of itself, but the impact increases tenfold when uttered by a child. No one looks forward to the prospect of losing his or her life, but for so many people of color this has been our reality. I’d be hard-pressed to recall a news cycle in my adult life that didn’t include some sort of violence against someone who looked like me, my friends or my family.
While Hillary Clinton wasn’t necessarily our great white hope, her policies, plans, and promises seemed more primed to acknowledge the need for better gun control, police reform and the fact that black lives matter than her competitor. So when Trump—someone who appears to proudly represent the complete opposite of that—ends up being the victor, it can be a real sobering moment. Not just for yourself, but your entire family.
I woke up the morning after the election to my wife in tears, as she couldn’t stop thinking about what our daughter’s future will look like under President Trump. The anger and frustration I felt about Tuesday night’s outcome were enough to make me join my wife in her cathartic release, but instead I looked down at our daughter’s innocent smile and thought about the endless possibilities. It was in that moment that I decided to spend less time crying over what’s already done, why might be, and just focus on my time when #ImWithHer.