What Gets Trumped?
Where do I start? Do I start on Wednesday November 9, 2016 at 4:27 a.m. when I woke up to the confirmation that Donald Trump would be the next President of the United States?
Do I start somewhere in the middle of my sleep-deprivation, moving through the waking nightmare that Americans elected a glorified reality TV star; a liar and a bully; who repeatedly denigrated immigrants, people of color, and assaulted women; who ran on a platform of massive deportations, on surveillance of Muslims? A man who encouraged public violence, harkening back to the good ol’ days – of what? Jim Crow-era lynchings!? Or do I start in the fear that I have for my friends, for the people who can’t hide their genders or skin color, for those who have fought fiercely for their identities to be public and respected?
What about the environment? What about law and policy with a Republican-controlled House and a right-wing Supreme Court? Do I start at my tearful-horror at the irony that a machiavellian-demagogue is now the leader of the free world for the next four years?
How about I start later in the same day, at 4:59 p.m. when I found out that my mother voted for Trump. That my stepfather voted for a third-party candidate. That my brother didn’t vote at all.
No. I think I’ll start somewhere much earlier.
At twelve years old, I started writing. It helped me to make sense of the world. I know I’m preaching to the choir when I assert that there is power in language. We are readers and/or writers and lovers of literature because we recognize this power. We know that words can easily construct or reconstruct, even deconstruct reality. Whole entire classification systems are built on language, individuals and countries are ordered accordingly: gender identities, religion, race and ethnicity.
And the sky wasn’t blue, until we named it so. Revelation and recognition are tied to language.
In 2012, economist Keith Chen released a study that languages without future tenses tended be more responsible when planning for the future: “Remarkably, he discovered that speakers with weak future tenses (e.g. German, Finnish and Estonian) were 30 percent more likely to save money, 24 percent more likely to avoid smoking, 29 percent more likely to exercise regularly, and 13 percent less likely to be obese, than speakers of languages with strong future tenses, like English.”
Cogito ergo sum.
Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am” becomes incredibly hard to preserve for a woman, a person of color, a queer or trans person, a Muslim, an undocumented immigrant in a Trump-national climate.