As I type this, people are tweeting that I’ll be deported or killed once Donald Trump takes office. It’s surreal, but it’s useful to explain how I got here, because stories like this will be happening a lot more for the next four years.
On November 9, I created and tweeted a map, based on exit poll and pre-election projections, that showed that Hillary Clinton would have won in all 50 states if only people of color had voted in the election. In fact, race was the greatest determining factor in the election. Trump swept white men and women in every income bracket. With that in mind, I included a message for white folks: “You have work to do.”
The tweet went viral, and became an extremely revealing Rorschach test. Many people of color, and a good number of white people, knew exactly what I meant. They saw how the opposition of people of color to a racist, sexist, homophobic, violent demagogue wasn’t enough to stop him. They knew that if we’re going to change anything, more white people need to stand up against hate, and to address it in their own families and communities. And now that Trump has won, there’s even more work to do: the work of protecting the safety and well-being of people of color, women, immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, LGBTQ people, sexual assault survivors, and other groups that he has explicitly targeted.
Others became defensive, said they voted against Trump. Which is great, but here we are—and at the end of the day it will still be people of color who suffer. We will face disproportionate levels of state-sanctioned violence, our bodies will be targeted and incarcerated for profit, our families will get separated, and our friends will be terrorized walking down the street. This isn’t a tragic accident. This is the result of a historic system of oppression created by white people, and it is up to white people to finally dismantle it.
But that system is gaining strength, and if you need proof, look at my Twitter feed. I’ve been inundated with hundreds of violent threats over the last 48 hours by users who say they will deport me, put me in camps and ovens, or just kill me. As a journalist, I wanted to publish these messages to reveal the depth of racial hatred in our country and how it is increasingly tied to our politics. As a normal American person of color, it’s scary and exhausting.
Thankfully I’ve received equal amounts of messages from people who are horrified by this and have said they will do whatever they can to stand with people of color. I’ve gotten support from friends, family, and strangers who pledge they will step up the fight.
So I won’t lose hope. I believed this before the election and I feel it even more now: People of color have what we need in each other, along with women, trans, queer, disabled folks, survivors, immigrants, refugees, and marginalized people of all kinds. We survive and thrive not because of any inherent goodness of America, but because of our own verve, magic, and genius. I know our brilliance and power. I love our beauty, our strength, and our joy.
We’ll need all of it as we fight—and no amount of harassment or threats will stop the work that we’ve got to do.