For African-American/black men, I imagine the election result felt a bit different than it did to their white counterparts in the nation; at least for me it did.
Last week, I watched patiently at a bar for what was to be the historical election of our first woman president. Before Nov. 8, the idea of going out on a Tuesday to a bar to celebrate anything, let alone watch up-to-the-minute election coverage, was unheard of, but there was just something about this moment that I had to be a part of.
By 10:30 p.m., sitting in an establishment in Uptown Minneapolis, I leaned over to a friend and said, “Let’s go.”
“I don’t want to be in public when we learn the results.”
On Wednesday morning, I awoke to the news that has troubled many Americans in the past week: Donald Trump is president-elect.
I didn’t feel angry; I wasn’t upset, wasn’t really all that surprised. After checking my phone and learning the news, my reaction was what I imagine the reaction would be if I were a parent of a teenager who had just strolled in past curfew — I was a little worried, a little disappointed, not all that surprised, and almost certain this wouldn’t be the last time.
During the second half of my week, I unconsciously started searching for the outrage my fellow Democrats were feeling. To me, it didn’t seem fair that everyone was so upset and I was barely moved to a reaction.
I couldn’t have had more contrasting conversations the next day about the election and what it meant moving forward. After work, I stopped at a friend’s house before heading to my monthly chess night at my former boss’s house. With James, who is also African-American and has been a close friend since freshman year of college, I got a sense of “Yeah, this sucks, but is it really going to make that big of a difference for us?” and “We should at least wait and see where this goes.”
The conversation at chess night was much different; three older fairly liberal white guys, and me, a 30-year-old black guy, sat around and talked about the election before playing. The consensus among them was this was possibly the worst thing to happen in this country in their lifetimes.
By Saturday morning, I knew why I felt as I do right now. I turned on the news to learn that a jury in Cincinnati had been unable to come to a verdict in the murder trial of a white police officer’s shooting of an unarmed black motorist during the summer of 2015. I shouldn’t have watched the body-cam video. Go watch it for yourself, but understand that no one should be killed under those circumstances.
If Hilary Clinton had been elected on Nov. 8, would that jury have been able to come to a verdict? Would her election have prevented the unchecked killings by law enforcement of unarmed black men in this country?
I am not so jaded that I cannot understand the larger implications of a Trump presidency. I am aware that the potential ramifications of his policies and the bigotry in his speeches, not to mention who he will surround himself with in the White House, are frightening.
I also understand and feel both the argument of a black man like Colin Kaepernick who said he didn’t vote because “I think it would hypocritical for me to vote,” and the sentiment of an older black man like Stephen A. Smith who “excoriates Colin Kaepernick for not voting.” Neither message falls on deaf ears.
I do not mean to minimize the fear other Americans are feeling about other related issues surrounding Trump’s election victory.
I am, however, highlighting that the election result may have felt different for black people, or that at least for me it has.
Isiah Jones, of Minneapolis, is a camp director.