Written and Illustrated by Koriander Bullard
As I write this, it is March 3, 2017. Day 114 of a post-2016-election America.
I live in London, Kentucky. It’s a big place with a small town mentality. There’s potential for growth, but the churches usually protest away businesses. We’re just about to open a wing bar, as we just lifted alcohol prohibition this past January.
I moved here back in July of 2013. At the time, I was one of a handful of mixed race women in the sleepy town. We do have Black and mixed race people, but few actually live here in London. Most commute from out of town. The locals whisper among themselves that those who are not 100% Caucasian must be coming from some place they call “The Holler”. I have no idea where this elusive Holler is, but everyone tells me it’s a new-age ghetto full of lower income people. The parents and grandparents of the Holler area moved from East Bernstadt, one of the poorest places in Kentucky, right next to London. Most of the neighboring village is White, but they have a section called “The Ape Yard” with market called “Ape Mart”. It was aptly named Ape Yard a long time ago, because “The Blacks” used to live there. They claimed it was a dangerous ghetto back then, but looking at it now, they only change has been that it’s citizens are now White. It’s still very dangerous to drive through there. Ironically, the people who accuse “The Blackens” of being lower class are themselves surviving on food stamps. Less than one third of the residents of London are earning more than $12 an hour. A bulk of the residents live in lower income trailers or single family homes, where they have moved in multiple children, pets, me-maws, pap-paws and on occasion, a roommate or two to make ends meet. It’s like if the country of China was bought out by the Precious Moments company.
Until the election, racism existed, but was much more polite. Subdued if you will. Though I got to see it from a first-person perspective. My natural, dark brown/near black curls don’t always stay down in ringlets. If the slightest humidity occurs, if my conditioner fails or even if I just put on a sweater, my curls naturally morph into a thick Afro. I comb it out, put on my sunglasses, and then try and make a game of how much I can get done before someone grabs, pulls, teases my hair and tell me just how “wild and crazy” my tresses are. Re-iterating that I am not a petting zoo only gets me stern, disgusted glances, and a reminder that I am “wrong” for not letting complete strangers play with my Afro. I am told that I need to learn how to “take a joke” and learn to like what they are doing by pulling my genetically enhanced mane apart. That it’s wrong, actually, rude of me to say “don’t touch my hair” because as it stands, I don’t deserve the right to my own body.
I shop at the local Sally Beauty, a franchise just slightly longer than a walk in closet. As soon as I walk to the Black hair care shelf (Did you note I never said aisle?) a bouncy red-head bombards me with questions, asking me why I am here and “am I sure” I will buy something. I describe whatever African Pride product I am looking for, which as usual, they never have in stock, and I am suddenly directed to a bottle of Hawaiian Silky or As I Am. With a smile, the red head informs me that these products work for my kind… of HAIR!! She says trying to turn the racist comment into one of concern.
Posting online anything remotely political grants me a few death threats, a rape threat, and about a dozen or so misspelled comments about how “stupid” I am, because I support Obama, I support a woman’s right to choose, and I oppose general racism and bigotry. Oh, and I believe in Gay rights.
Every article I write is wrongfully dismissed as “just crazy Kori ranting” and my husband is bombarded with people asking him why he can’t control an animal like me.
So maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised when Trump was elected president, as the electoral college once again ignored votes and leaned towards the loser of the popular vote. Or as the FBI has deemed, in an event hacked by the Russians. But even with Russia rigging the election, there were still more than enough of “them” voting for Trump that it hardly surprises me.
And I can’t even type one word without some man-child throwing a temper tantrum.
“But Hillary did this!!” Was I talking about Hillary? No. I didn’t bring up the chipmunk at all. I’m not even a fan of hers, but at least she has never been accused of rape.
“I bet you didn’t vote.” Cries another man-child. Actually, I did vote. Anybody who didn’t vote is part of the problem.
And then of course comes the chest beating, the name calling, the dismal grammar and the rapist mentality that I better learn to like Trump, lie down, shut up and take it like a dirty whore.
I’m an actual American, so you can get over my disapproval of Trump.
Adult children, when shown uncensored film footage of Trump making disparaging comments towards ethnics, women and Gays, lie. They lie to themselves and to the public about this man and his running mate being anti-women, anti-LBGTQ and anti-anybody-not-White-and-Republican, yet they also re-tweet and post the very same audio and video clips proving these men are the wastes of life that they are. They share the “grab ‘em by the pussy” remark Trump made and then ask why we are angry.
But why am I angry? I live in Kentucky. Didn’t I see this coming?
Eight years ago, I cried, holding my mother, as we had just elected our first, and it looks like final, ethnic president.
Eight years of harassment and being hacked later, I saw four potential candidates for presidency.
All of them White.
Zero of them with any concept of world history, who our allies are or any real plans once they kill off whichever governmental programs are putting their panties in a wad the hardest. Nobody with a solid financial plan for our children.
But it’s all right, because it’s all White.
I knew that America was too racist to ever elect another ethnic president, but I didn’t think America hated progression so much, that they would elect Trump and Pence, two wastes so out of touch with reality that they want to see a woman burned at the stake if she suffers a miscarriage, want to hold down a victim of rape and force her to carry a rapist’s baby even if it means she dies on the table, and of course have tweeted about ethnic cleansing with all the fervor of a skinhead on Ritalin.
So here we are, 114 days later. And how does Kentucky look?
Well here in London, where we used to hear one police siren a month down my street, we’re up to three a day. White Republicans tagging, breaking and entering and committing violence in the streets now take the place of our old crimes of meth dealing and bad driving. So far, no Black crimes, but the police are watching them instead of the people actually committing the crimes in my neck of the woods.
My neighbors ~ the non-racist Whites ~ are panicking. Their yards, mailboxes and doorsteps are now lined with fliers for the KKK. Lynchings are being planned, and people are deciding which side of history they want to stand on. We now have KKK parades scheduled for Spring and Summer. One flier suggested we “bring the kids” as shoppers by the local Walmart tried to convince me these were “wholesome Christian boys” and that I’m “stupid” for bringing up all of the lynchings the KKK has been responsible for.
Of course, non-KKK supporters are also talking of lynchings, and in a small-town area, everyone knows who everyone is in town, and I am being eyed like a criminal.
I now walk my dog armed. I’ve shortened her leash and carry weaponry on me at all times. I am looking at buying a gun. I didn’t used to travel armed. In fact, I criticize gun owners as being made up of mostly man-children, hiding behind death toys because they’re too scared to deal with life like an adult. I still stand by that statement. And yet here I am, armed, because every day now since the election, my neighbors below me have started letting their large dogs into my yard. I haven’t had one day yet where I could take my dog out in peace, without having to chase something or make a threat. I hope I never have to use any of them. I’d rather be seen as a paranoid nut than a local terrorist, but I have my dog and my husband to think of. I hate being armed. The last thing I armed on purpose was an action figure. Weapons belong in that world of televised fantasy, not on me. But here I am, looking less like I’m checking the mail and more like I’m going to war. I’ve been told “round these parts” that it’s a shame I’m not a little more White in this regard. If I shoot someone in self defense, I will either be killed or go to jail. But if I was more White, I could say I’m a troubled youth or lie and say I have Autism. Such is my country at the moment. God forbid that they figure out my grandfather is also part Native American, I’ll have to protect my land as well. Lord knows my property isn’t even enough for a pipeline, but one good bulldozer can fix that.
I share and re-post the valid reasons why I am angry, only to be told what a “liar” I am and that I’m just being a baby. I just “love” how White Republicans are, the same way I love a root canal. They hacked, harassed, threatened and even beat people and shot people over Obama being elected, spread lies about him taking their guns and about his American birth certificate, held Tea Parties and threw public temper tantrums all over YouTube, but now they can’t understand why everyone else is marching, protesting and demanding a recount. In fact, White Republicans want praise, a hug and a trophy for their preschool behavior, but have the nerve to point a finger at anti-Trump supporters and call us “babies”.
I’m starring at an all White, almost entirely male congress, primed and ready to legalize rape, revoke a woman’s right to choose or vote, and revoke all citizenship status and rights to anybody of color or who is Gay, and I’m supposed to put on a smile and be happy about it?
Make no mistake. I am not afraid.
I am angry.
And if you don’t like how the rest of us feel, too bad. Taking a page from your book, you can learn to like it, deal with it and take it, because we’re not accepting your fraud as president or vice.
I had eight years of hate flung at me for my race, my gender, my stances and my president.
Koriander Bullard is an author, cartoonist and human rights advocate. Keep up with her on Facebook!