Stopping the Cycle of Disbelief: It's time to stop rediscovering America's racial divide.

AuthorFelton, Ariel
PositionFirst-Person Singular

As the November 3 presidential election draws closer, conversations about race in America cannot be avoided. After several shootings of unarmed Black people--Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd-happened seemingly back-to-back, protests against police brutality and systemic racism erupted across the nation and even abroad.

The protests had a ripple effect, and soon Black professionals in every industry--entertainment, sports, education, politics--began calling out the unjust treatment they had experienced.

As people scramble to find Black authors to read and Black thinkers to follow on social media, even nonfamous Black citizens like myself have found ourselves bombarded with texts and emails from well-meaning white friends expressing horror and disbelief about "everything going on." A white acquaintance from my hometown of Byron, Georgia, told me how startled she felt when her dad taught her she was worth more than Black people; she followed this statement with asking if I thought our hometown was racist.

This is the same horror and disbelief the nation expressed when Donald Trump won the presidential election in 2016. The night of the election, as the results rolled in, I decided to go to bed early. I've never been a fan of election nights; the stress is usually too much for me.

The next morning, I woke up to "What just happened?" and "Is this real life?" texts, none of which I had the heart to respond to. On his late-night show, Jimmy Fallon played a classic clip from Family Matters, relating America's collective shock to Steve Urkel's famous line: "Did I do that?" White liberals in particular were surprised that the nation would follow a Black President who spoke of hope and inclusion with a man whose campaign employed bullying on the basis of race, gender, immigration status, physical appearance, and disability.

Unfortunately, people of color in America do not have the luxury of disbelief.

In announcing his plan to run for President, Donald Trump said: "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you.... They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us [sic]. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

The "you" in this statement is telling, especially when considering Trump's majority white, Christian audience. When I listened to this speech, I heard: They're not sending people who...

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