By Myles Johnson @hausmuva
Isn’t imagination dangerous? Isn’t curiosity lethal? With no plan and no experience, Donald Trump was able to inspire the imagination through vivid portraits of violent domination and white supremacy. Although logic and history didn’t validate his competency to lead a nation, he intersected inspiration with curiosity. This is the romantic portion of tyranny. He mobilized white supremacists and white terrorists alike with the possibility of a future that would empower their domination dreams, and they were curious to see what this looks like. It was arguably easy for them to find support for this curiosity when we remember that the KKK did not disappear; the KKK went into politics. The America’s government, just like the police system, was designed for this type of white supremacist takeover. He galvanized and mobilized droves of white supremacists by manipulating their imagination, and honoring the curiosity with fantasy and violent rhetoric. This is the fantastical portion of fascism. Truth and reason are irrelevant when someone grabs you by the imagination and leads you to be deeply curious as to what it would look like if we were able to get back to those good ‘ole days, those fifty-cent hamburgers and a lynching postcard ‘ole days.
The day following Trump’s election, my phone was the most active it has ever been in my life. I had many people, most living at the intersection of queerness and blackness; call, text, and direct message me on social media looking for a plan and hope. I had hope and vision, but I did not have patience or the energy to sugarcoat truths that is usually accompanied with my patience. My thoughts on whiteness can scale from soft to harsh, but on that day, and every day after, I knew I could not afford to ever fail to boldly and loudly name the dangers of all whiteness. This means whiteness that dances to hip-hop songs and voted for Hillary Clinton, and whiteness that burns crosses and votes for Donald Trump. I thought of Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote, “The Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice.” It is interesting to meditate on this quote by King and reflect that his legacy and likeness has been weaponized by these very white moderates, which may refer to themselves as liberals, to push Black people that are practicing resistance and employing radical strategies to be quiet and to stay in order. They will often remind us of Martin Luther King Jr.’s desire for non-violent protest, but fail to remind us that the U.S. government killed him when his politics focused more sharply on anti-capitalism. Whiteness, even the liberal brand, is conniving in that way.
This weaponizing of order to silence and de-radicalize black people serves all of whiteness, liberal and conservative, because it keeps the black person docile enough not to disrupt daily life that includes upholding and privileging whiteness, but angry enough to be used as a mule in the next four years or whenever else the blue side of whiteness needs something done, politically or socially. This white supremacist function does not have to be carried out by white people. We will see a former black president, black organizers with invested interest in imperialist white supremacist domination politics, and black citizens fearful of change and/or invested in domination, employ these same white supremacist traditions of order. This is how black people continue to be lynched by the police while Donald Trump mobilizes millions of white supremacists to elect him ruler of the land. This lust for order and sustaining domination is how the struggle continues. Black people have become used to watering gardens of others, while we are set aflame.
My hope is informed by the liberation of the black imagination. The idea that we can imagine and then ultimately create, selves separate from whiteness. The ideas, like what we observed with the Black Panther Party and Black Wall Street, is to create programs and systems that can exist outside of white domination and its many manifestations. My hope is informed by a day where every four years, we don’t put black well-being up on the auction block or make a lottery out of the black future. My hope is informed by my capacity to imagine systems and programs that exist regardless of more liberal or conservative white supremacist rulings. My hope is the collective black imagination realizes that there is not a scholarship, grant, or social program that white supremacy can design that will remove the terror it has reeked on displaced Africans in America.
My hope is that the black imagination is informed by history and finds solace in that this is not the first time we’ve known this place. We know Fred Hampton and we read about Black Wall Street being burned down. Thanks to modern times and more global connections, our practices of resistance and programs that prioritize optimal black well-being do not have to be localized or static. It can exist infinitely and without a central head to be cut off. This is the language of the hope I can believe in when President Obama’s hope proved to not be enough.
Now, Donald Trump is president.
The world is over. The sky is falling. The good news is that it isn’t your sky to mourn or your world to protect. It is simply the sky and world you were shackled to. Don’t conflate the two.
My dream is that black people become wildly and uncontrollably curious as to what existence not dependent on white domination looks like, and brave enough to move and create towards it because it must be better than what we are being offered by white domination. The dream is that the desire for this dream to become a reality leads people to push and put pressure on organizers, teachers, doctors, writers, artists, lawyers, and all black people to imagine what you can create and participate in that exists outside of white domination to sustain, empower, and prioritize black lives. This does not just look like protests, panel discussions, and meetings of how to best reform a white supremacist thing. This looks like reimagining black education, black healthcare, black law, black housing, black banking, black media, black art in a way that is not dependent on the mercy of white supremacy to thrive and sustain itself. This vision of the supreme moment of black imagination, and its following manifestation is where my hope is based on, and the only place my focus can exist for the next four years and beyond.
Myles E. Johnson is a writer located in Atlanta, Georgia. His work spans between critical and personal essays, children’s literature and speculative fiction. Johnson focuses on black and queer identities, and specifically, the intersection of the two. Johnson’s work has been featured in Bitch Media, NBCBLK, Huffington Post, Out Magazine and The Guardian.