Trump Showed me America’s True Colours

A few weeks ago, I posted on social media:

The fact that Trump is now the republican candidate for President of the United States, says more about America than it does about Trump.

Now that Americans have handed him the Oval Office in a landslide win, I’ve learned even more about the country I chose to make my home.

There are many Trump supporters who do not consider themselves racist, xenophobic, or misogynistic, in spite of the obvious sentiments their leader holds. I am not asking you to justify your voting decision or your beliefs. In fact, at this point it’s far too late to care.

I understand also that there are many Americans who tried to stop this from happening, and was as blindsided by failure as I was. This is not for you. Or perhaps it is, so you can see how very right you were to consider more than just yourselves when you voted. I thank you.

With that in mind, I want to give you some insight into the immigration journey of a woman who represents several marginalised groups in America.

I am Black.

I am a woman.

But worst of all: I am an immigrant.

An Untimely Entrance

When I arrived on my routine summer vacation in July 2015, I was ecstatic to be in America, as I always was. I was at a high-point in my life, having given up my dead-end job in payroll to chase my dreams. I was meeting new people, seeing new places, experiencing new things.

But by January, my fun came to an abrupt end. I was beginning to notice a lot of little things in American culture that in 17 years of traveling to the U.S., had not surfaced before. I noticed a targeting of women and minorities; and I noticed a growing hatred or fear of immigrants, made worse by Trump and his campaigns.

I noticed bigotry.

“I came here at the wrong time,” I confided in my friends. “All these years my mother asked me to move and I stayed behind, and of all the years I could have picked to come here, it just had to be this one.”

The Adjustment Period

In Message in a Bottle, I described how very bleak my life was from February into late September. At the time, I did not explain why that was, and perhaps a time will come when I divulge that full story. For now, I say only that much of it came from difficulties adjusting to a new life here.

But let us rewind to the beginning. When I first arrived in America, before the fun died out, being Jamaican was still a good thing. There were important times when it had to be said – when I was asked why I didn’t have a driver’s license, why I didn’t own a credit card, why I had to return home (or so, the original plan had gone) in six months.

“Oh, you’re Jamaican!” the favourable response would go. I was then told from one person and another not to change; not to lose the ideals I had brought with me from my country. Never assimilate. Never fall into the many traps of life in America. Never adopt their ills.

But as the months wore on, that wore off. As I was faced with new experiences and challenges, as a resident in the States, I became upset. This was not the America I had known for 17 years. What changed? Or did I just not notice this all before?

As more Americans, who had never even left their country, tried to tell me this was the way of the world, I tried to show them that no, this was the way of America. Things were much different back home – and elsewhere.

Unwelcome

Immigration

That’s when the xenophobic and anti-immigrant comments started, mostly from one White American family member, I expected to have my back. I couldn’t discuss any issue in America without being met with:

  • Oh my God! Why are we so different? Why can’t you just agree with me?
  • You always want to think you’re right, but I’m American. Why can’t you just listen and do what I say? I know what I’m talking about.
  • If America sucks so bad, why are you here? Why don’t you just go home?
  • One day you will be American too, so you might as well just suck it up and be American and accept that this is your life, and you are one of us.
  • OH MY GOD! I don’t care what happened in Jamaica! You’re in America now. You need to pay attention to what’s going on here!
  • Oh, so are you going to feel guilty now when you become American and everyone else in the world is poor and starving? We do what we do to maintain our wealth as a nation, and you will benefit from it, too. Let’s see how guilty you feel in three years!

For the most part, I grit my teeth and swallowed the words that were bile rising in my throat. Once the exotic wonder, in just a few months, I was expected to forget who I was and where I had come from. I must assimilate. Forget some more. And then become American.

Race

When matters of ethnicity and race relations came up, the discussions fared no better:

  • Racism doesn’t exist. The media brainwashed that into people’s heads. And what about reverse racism? You know what it was like being a White boy in the hood?
  • Yes. I would laugh if my kid came home and asked me what a “nigger” was. Why? Because it’s funny!
  • Oh my God! Are we talking about race again??? This is such a waste of time.
  • You are the ONLY Black person I know who feels the need to talk about race this much. Why can’t we talk about video games, or something?

Gender

As a woman in the United States, I have also enjoyed far less freedoms than I did back home. In Jamaica, where abortion is albeit illegal, birth control is my own business. I can walk into any pharmacy and purchase pills over the counter with no questions asked. I can even get birth control pills for free at clinics.

In Jamaica, there is also a reverence for women that I have completely lost here. Though Jamaican men are far too bold for their own good, I’d be lying if I said they were any worse than what I encountered here.

Like the man who assaulted me in September and was grabbed in the throat and put in his place, as thanks for his advances. Or the guy who followed me to my mother’s apartment and cornered me, because how dare I ignore him while he “hollered” at me.

Women are not revered here. There is no respect for women as mothers, wives, or daughters. Women can’t even breastfeed without raising alarm. And as we’ve seen with the constant vilification of Hillary, career women are often the least respected of them all.

As one Twitter user pointed out:

This election proved that everyone will forgive a man for anything, while a woman will always be judged mercilessly.

The Process

The discomfort did not stop there. I was constantly reminded that if I wasn’t an immigrant playing a waiting game with the government, then I wouldn’t be so dependent. I would have more money, drive my own car, and have less need of friends to do my bidding.

“You’re so irresponsible,” The American said to me one day. “Can’t do anything yourself, so you have to rely on your friends to do it for you. Don’t you think they have better things to do?”

The irony is that many Americans remember how hard it is to leave home and move to a new city or state, but often can’t grasp what it’s like to move to a whole new country. So let me share a bit of how that works, especially for the people clamouring for tighter immigration controls.

It’s not easy going to another country and relearning their laws, their taxes, this bloody thing called an SSN, driving on the wrong side of the road, and learning traffic laws completely opposite to what we know back home.

Some of us have to learn a new language altogether. And by all accounts, even my British English is bad spelling and bad grammar as far as America is concerned. Try swallowing that as a writer.

It cost me at least US$3000 to do my paperwork so far. That’s not counting the fees that remain ahead for citizenship. The country does not care how you work to pay for it, while you wait on your work permit. Your problem, not theirs. But if they catch you working in America, you’ll be deported and your employer fined.

During the immigration process, you are pricked and poked and tested and given vaccines for diseases you never even had, whether you like it or not. Then, they send you to be fingerprinted, and run your records through the FBI’s criminal database.

And then there’s the immigration interview with an Officer, featuring questions like:

  • Have you ever supported a communist, or terrorist organisation?
  • Have you ever smuggled drugs, people, or contraband into the country?
  • Have you ever been or bought a prostitute in the past ten years?
  • What side of the bed does your husband sleep on?
  • When was your wife’s last menstrual cycle?
  • What kind of panties is she wearing right now?

The Contrast

To be fair, Jamaica puts immigrants through its own set of hoops, as well. In fact, in some ways Jamaica is a lot more strict. Not only do you get interviewed, but you can expect a visit to your home. And the bureaucratic process can have people on a waiting list for up to seven years. I’ve seen it.

But when it comes to welcoming tourists and immigrants into our culture, we do far better, and any of you that have visited my island before can attest to that.

To be sure, Jamaicans by nature are blunt people. We are not politically correct, and will speak our minds, whatever the cost. If we heard a stereotype about your people that will probably piss you off, please know, one day we will ask you about it anyway.

This is not out of any malicious intent. We are a curious people – always open, and always learning. When we come across foreigners, we not only want to share our culture and press it upon you, we want to learn about your own. We want a mutual exchange.

Where are you from? What language do they speak? Are there Black people there? Where is your country on a map? Oh that’s where it is – well I know someone from this country five places over that has an accent almost like yours. 

We never – and I do mean never – tell anyone it’s about time they learn to speak our language or our dialect. In fact, we often like it better when you don’t embarrass yourself by trying to speak patois (our Creole).

More often than not, Jamaicans help to ease the transition for you by tempering the accent so you can understand us better; and even learning some of your language, so we can communicate.

And when we say you should stay true to your culture, we mean it. We live our motto in Jamaica every day:

Out of many – one people.

With a background like this, I’m sure virtually anyone can understand how appalled I was to come to the U.S. and see immigrants pushed to the bottom of the barrel – the uneducated rapists in society, stealing American jobs and American women.

Never mind the Stanford-educated rapists, like Brock Turner. When you’re a privileged American, grabbing women by the crotch is perfectly fine – even if you sneak some penetration in, while you’re at it.

The Great Disappointment

For a long time, I hoped that The American family member I allowed to torture me for a year was the only one of his kind.

Perhaps, I maintained contact for that long, because I hoped our friendship might show him the other side of the coin. The side he chose not to see, as a privileged White Male in America.

Needless to say, that didn’t work. What did work was watching his comrades vote President Trump into the White House. Now, he believes racism and bigotry are alive and well in America. It’s no longer just the media brainwashing us all. Too bad it’s far too late to do anything about it, for another four years.

To say I am disappointed in America and Americans is an understatement. I suppose the Land of the Free is reserved for White males in America. For the rest of us – women, minorities, immigrants – it’s the Home of the Brave.

The home of the people who must overcome racism, xenophobia, and misogyny – ironically from people who swear it does not exist – to move forward and achieve our goals.

My story is not unique or unusual. And frankly it’s mild compared to what other immigrants have suffered. It’s not easy being an immigrant anywhere. And over the next four years, I imagine it will be especially hard as an immigrant in America.

But nonetheless I thank Trump. I thank him for exposing America for what it really is. I thank him for showing me America’s true colours.

This year, red is very telling.

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165 Comments Add yours

  1. Murray Foote says:

    From 1782 to 1956, the motto of the US was “E Pluribus Unum”, which means the same as “Out of many – one people”. To my mind the current motto “In God We Trust” comes out of the McCarthyist era. I believe it really means “God is on our side so we can abuse power in whatever way we choose and no-one can complain”.

    One can only hope that due in part to popular activism, Trump will give rise in due course to a new FDR.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had no idea that was the original motto. How cool is that! But I did know In God we Trust went against everything the founding fathers had originally planned. So I think your interpretation is quite right.

      Did you see my post on the Manifest Destiny? That sums up your opinion, or rather, expands on it.

      I too hope a change comes about with all the recent activism, but that’s a fight Americans will have to carry on mostly on their own. Immigrants are no longer in a place where we can voice unpopular opinions, or opinions against the man on the throne.

      Like

      1. Murray Foote says:

        I’ve seen your post on Manifest Destiny now.

        I agree about Manifest Destiny – but Manifest destiny is one thing and the military industrial complex is another. The US failed to demilitarise after WW2 and Korea and they now have 50% of world military expenditure on 17% of world national income. Having all those generals sitting round waiting for something to do creates a demand for invasions and the opportunity to pursue Manifest Destiny. Military expenditure also has very little economic multiplier effect. Along with the increasing inequity of the taxation system, I believe it is probably the primary cause of the relative economic decline of the US.

        Trump is essentially trying to return the US to before WW1 and the domination of robber barons such as himself. But while it’s impossible to say how much damage he will do, ultimately he will not succeed and the worm will turn.

        I also think there are parallels with 1856/57. Trump in those terms is a combination of a Do Nothing and a Democratic President. The Do Nothings were an anti-immigration party, primarily against Irish and (ironically) Germans, and the Democrats were effectively a pro-slavery party. Trump is an anti-immigration party all on his own and the Republicans these days are the Wage Slavery party (as epitomised by Walmart). Given Trump’s impending control of the Supreme Court, there will probably be some modern equivalent of the Dredd Scott decision, further spreading wage slavery and taxation rorts.

        In 1860 we got Lincoln from the anti-slavery Republican Party (modern equivalent – the Democrats) and in 1861 the Civil War. If say Elizabeth Warren sweeps the Presidency, the House and the Senate in 2020 and implements a radical social democratic agenda, there will be an intransigent minority who insists that Democracy means that their views must prevail. Since the US is also the World’s largest private army that merely lacks a command structure (but has however hundred million hand guns), there might develop some kind of civil war situation, perhaps involving right wing militias.

        Living in interesting times….

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That’s quite the history lesson! Thanks for sharing.

        We are indeed living in interesting times, but it’s hard to think of it that way. Dreadful is more the word that comes to mind.

        I’m trying to stay positive, mostly by not giving Trump air time and website traffic. I believe the only way to deal with the monster is to give him less of the one thing he loves more than money: attention.

        The problem is, being able to do that without just shutting up about issues that clearly need to be addressed. And as you’ve pointed out, much of this is just history repeating itself in mixed up fashion.

        Here’s to the world not ended in 2017. What are the odds..?

        Like

    1. Thanks for sharing my article 🙂

      Like

  2. orbb80 says:

    I too am very disappointed in America, but I do also feel the need to point out the true freedom doesn’t really exist in this country, unless you’re super rich (which doesn’t always protect people of color, or women, but it has it’s moments). I think Hilary would have been just as bad for us, but for different reasons. I absolutely hate that those two were the only viable options & completely abhor Trump in his current role. I cannot understand why so many people that have always been so reasonable (& NOTHING like that small minded man) are STILL so enthralled with him (having to promote his every freaking move, like he’s some kind of rock star or godhead) & his reign of terror. This kind of reminds me of Nixon saying that things weren’t illegal when the president did them & while he was reminded that this was not true, I fear that it is all too true for our current lecher-in-chief. Every person in this country is either an immigrant or descended of them, if we talk paleo wanderings, even the indigenous people (who are also kicked to the side & have been for far too long) are as well. I feel so helpless with the mind-numbing stupidity drowning me everywhere I turn. While I disagree with your friend about racism being gone before, we were getting better, save for a minority of loud mouth bigots pushing their agenda, now we are backsliding something fierce, when people who have NEVER been guilty of bigotry in their lives, now can’t wait to get on the hate cycle wagon.

    Just a side note, I’m pagan. It pains me how many other pagans seem to be out to promote this bullsh*t. Seriously?!?!?! How can they even remotely justify their WORSHIP of a man who doesn’t think we have an impact on the environment. Our traditions are supposed to be Earth centered & yet they would blindly follow & even promote (YES even now, every d*mn day) outright lies from his campaign & administration that have been PROVEN to be lies, from a man who would poison all the world’s water if he thought it would make him a profit. I could go on about how stupid it is for people who follow an extreme minority religion, who protest inequity ALL OF THE TIME would throw the entirety of their souls in with this vile monster.

    I’m boiling with rage…. can hardly find the words to express how much I detest the turn of events we all must now endure & I have been bottling it up inside because I don’t want to start sh*t on the steady stream of absurdity being thrown at me, knowing they would never hear my point of view, because long before we got Trumped America decided that not sharing the same opinion meant you were bullying the other person & generally reaffirms whatever ridiculous belief system they have developed around their voluntary ignorance……

    American by birth, ashamed most of the time… Still, with as little as this means, I welcome you to this country & it would be a d*mned shame if you lost your Jamaican identity in the increasingly malignant culture you are surrounded by. Unity in diversity, that’s my motto, because if we were all the same, no one could “think outside the box.” While I am basically “white” (or at least generally accepted as such, but both sides of my family got around back in the day, so there are many ethnicities in the woodpile), we are sisters & I’m about ready to smack the sh*t out of anyone who tries to make you feel like you don’t belong, as your place is where ever you choose to make it. ❤

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    1. University in diversity sounds similar to the Jamaican motto: out of many, one people.

      I’ve definitely clung to my Jamaican identity, and continue to work to find my balance in America. I’ve been coming here for 18 years now and never had any cultural clashes before, but these days it’s almost a crime to be anything other than American. I can’t say I’ve suffered racism directly myself but others in my family have, and I definitely think that family member in the article is a closet racist. He’s related to us by marriage, not blood.

      I’m not sure what I can safely say about Trump at this point, but I do wish he would consider immigrants in a better light when he makes his policies, considering that he’s the son of two, and has married more than one.

      Liked by 1 person

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