Bye, Drumpf: Reclaiming a Divided America
|Street Riders NYC gathered at Barclays Center, Brooklyn last Saturday to commemorate the ousting of Donald Trump by President-elect Joe Biden and protest for 'Black Lives Matter'.
Over the weekend, there were jubilant celebrations of dancing, singing, and honking of car horns across major cities like New York City and Philadelphia, and swing states such as Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
Though Republicans will argue otherwise, it was confirmed after four nerve-wrecking days that kept Americans on the edge of their seats post-election day — Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States and Kamala Harris will be the first woman vice president in the history of the country.
Amidst the celebrations, I was most surprised to see the American flag being used as a symbol of triumph against Trump and what he represented — a metaphor for reclaiming America from the right.
For a long time, the Star-Spangled Banner was weaponized and manipulated to antagonize those who were considered to be less American.
This included Democrats, liberals, immigrants, children of immigrants, Black people and people of color (non-whites), and especially anyone who constructively criticized American policies and legislations that negatively impacted its citizens and that of other countries too.
It was only last week when I encountered Trump supporters driving in convoys around Brooklyn while proudly waving the American flag along with banners, posters and stickers sprawled and plastered on their vehicles with slogans like, “Trump 2020: Keep America Great”, “Make Liberals Cry Again”, “SuperTrump” (accompanied by a strange graphic of Trump’s head on Superman’s body) and “Trump 2020: F*** Your Feelings”. For the first time in my life — and I have lived through several election seasons in Malaysia and New Zealand — I saw extreme gaslighting, fanaticism, and animosity because of political polarization.
But after Biden's victory on Saturday, I witnessed the American flag become a symbol of democracy and progress towards more humane leadership. It's proof that Democrats or anyone who highlights America's culpability or challenges its administration with legitimate concerns don’t necessarily feel contempt for America nor Americans. They want America to wake up and smell the cup of coffee, or cup of Joe (I couldn't resist this pun). Sadly, their criticism is often interpreted as an attack instead of genuine concern for the country and its people and met with the spirit of "keeping America great".
There's a lesson to take heed of here: When anything in life challenges you — or even rejects you — take it as a personal invitation to up your game, not a personal attack. A call to raise your self-awareness and take responsibility for your actions.
Biden supporters took to the streets to celebrate the Biden-Harris win in downtown Brooklyn.
"Finding and owning opportunity takes an intentionality that goes beyond showing up to work and doing a good job. The mantra is real: we must work twice as hard to get half as far. The fears that held us back return in force, undermining our forward movement, regardless of where we stand. We are, by our natures, often required to manufacture our own breaks, identify new openings even before others know they exist. The best hack is to know this is the case, accept it, and move on, prepared to take full advantage. And then do it all over again." — Stacey Abrams, Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Real Change
The work continues, especially against racism, misogyny, anti-science, white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, American imperialism, and other systemic and policy issues the country is very divided over. There is cynicism among Democrats and citizens who didn’t vote for neither Trump nor Biden about whether the Biden-Harris administration will or will not continue the mistakes of past administrations. Americans are not naive and they have every right to be cynical in this case.
There will be many challenges ahead (even AOC may quit politics due to disunity in the Democratic party) but this is a step towards the right direction, inshaaAllah. When I frequent my local supermarket, which is a Middle Eastern store that sells halal groceries, I notice an increase of diversity among their shoppers compared to a year ago, and I see more Black people in my neighborhood, especially after the 'Black Lives Matter' protests took place here. Hopefully, these aren't mere coincidences but a sign of inclusivity and the lessening fear of the "other".
In the grand scheme of things, we may be minuscule but the "small" differences we make will create a ripple effect that reaches many, in ways seen and unseen.
Outcries of voter fraud allegations by Trump compelled Biden supporters to come out and defy his claims.
America has a long way to go but my faith in Americans has been restored albeit a little. Let's savor this moment — we just made history by witnessing the highest voter turnout the country has ever had and electing the first woman vice president who is also bi-racial.
As the icing on the cake, we've had the pleasure of relishing in the fact that Trump's campaign mistakenly booked Four Seasons Total Landscaping, which is nestled between a crematorium and an adult shop, as a press conference venue instead of the ritzy hotel, Four Seasons, following the announcement of Biden's imminent win after securing enough electoral votes. If that isn't poetic justice, I don't know what is.
This is not over. For we shall mount our righteous stand at Four Seasons Total Landscaping. Next to Fantasy Island Adult Books. Across the street from the Delaware Valley Cremation Center. Between the fire extinguisher and yellow hose. #MAGA pic.twitter.com/hxuAsbEjXi— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) November 7, 2020
It seems like America has answered its wake up call and is on the right track. So, can someone finally get clean water for Flint, please?