I have heard a lot of people say that they were shocked by the election results, and I was in a bit of disbelief myself on Tuesday night. Yet as I heard from speakers at the Friday walkout and from others in my life, no one should be shocked by what happened on Tuesday night. No one should be shocked that a racist or a misogynist or a xenophobic or a bigoted candidate, among other many other things, would be elected president of the United States.
Why should we be surprised that an openly racist candidate was elected? We live in country where people can be murdered by the police on the basis of their skin and receive no justice whatsoever. The reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement has shown how much our country does not care. Public schools are more segregated today than they were 40 years ago. After all, the Rodney King beating, OJ Simpson case, anti-busing drives and Civil Rights movement were not that long ago. These are just several examples of widely reported news stories and events centered around the racial oppression in our country, not to mention the massive gaps in wealth and income inequality based on race. Yet somehow we, and especially white Americans, are surprised that Donald Trump was elected president.
Why should we be surprised that a misogynist was elected president? We live in a country where 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted and less than 6 in 1000 perpetrators will end up in prison. There is inadequate access to contraception and abortion and women are paid 80 cents for every dollar that men are paid. It is really no surprise the first woman presidential nominee had such high unfavorable ratings and was attacked for being “untrustworthy” or “corrupt,” stereotypes cast on powerful women. While Donald Trump’s behavior has certainly been public, the sad truth is that it reflects how men treat women in this country and is a disgusting reminder of how unsurprised we should be.
Why should we be surprised that a xenophobic candidate was elected president? Our country has been exploiting the labor of immigrants for centuries without considering their rights, dignity or desires. We should not be surprised Trump has attacked undocumented immigrants, as they are isolated from our society and often overworked and underpaid without support from society. After all, our country took thousands of square miles of land from Mexico, but somehow it is they who came “illegally” and are “criminals.” We also encouraged workers to come to this country under the Bracero program and have employed Mexicans to produce goods with low wages and often poor worker protection. Even more, xenophobia has been enshrined in American law since at least the 1924 immigration law, which readily spelled out the American racial hierarchy through racial quotas and so one should be surprised when xenophobia becomes the rallying cry for white nationalist politics.
Why should we be surprised that a bigoted candidate was elected president? We live in a country where you can be fired for having the “wrong” sexual orientation in many states. Transphobia in the public sphere has become readily apparent through the passage of the bathroom law in North Carolina. There were more transgender victims of homicide in 2015 than any other year on record. Most of these people were women of color and none of the perpetrators were charged with hate crimes. Violence of this type is horrifying and too frequent, yet the disbelief about electing a bigoted president remains.
No one should be surprised about Donald Trump’s election. He is no discontinuity in the history of this country. All you have to do is open your eyes and look around at what is happening. Donald Trump must be stopped, just as every racist and oppressive policy and attitude that has existed in this country in its history must be. Only through continued efforts to unite and fight can this be achieved.