Although One Week by the Barenaked Ladies is ringing in my ear as I write this, I certainly don’t feel the nostalgic 90s garage rock joy that usually accompanies the song. While I’m trying to be glib, I’m not going to beat around the bush: I’m scared to be in America right now.
Never have I ever thought those words would come into my head.
In the past week I have watched as our President has signed Executive Order after Executive Order removing the US from important global treaties, dangerously reconfiguring the National Security apparatus of the country, and banning Syrian refugees (and a myriad of other individuals) from entering the nation. There have been no votes, there has been no debate, and there has been little or no acknowledgement from the White House on any of these issues. It’s as if, overnight, We the People don’t matter.
The same people that President Trump said he wanted to fight for, to drain the swamp for, suddenly are voiceless and powerless as he bulldozes over civil liberties.
Then, I finally looked back at my Facebook newsfeed. And I felt a wave of calm.
I saw my former classmates and colleagues in Washington DC marching for women’s rights and against the building of the wall. I saw protests outside of JFK, demanding the release of individuals detained under the travel ban. I saw ACLU lawyers working to free individuals at Dulles International Airport and fighting to stay the Executive Order instituting the travel ban. I saw children and dogs, men and women, blacks and whites, and straight and gay people marching together, shouting together, and crying together.
Never before have I been so proud to be young, in law school, and an American.
I ceased to be scared. As a black man living in America and as more and more people’s civil rights are challenged, you begin to wonder if you will be next. If, one day, someone will place people like you under a travel ban for something as elementary as the color of your skin or your religious beliefs.
However, I am not afraid anymore. I know that there are hundreds of thousands of people who will stand with me, who will not let them take me without a fight.
I know that my generation will come out from behind their laptop screens and put their Twitter fingers to work making protest signs.
Some people have said that this past week was the worst week ever, the week when America died. I beg to differ. This past week emboldened people to get outside and fight for something larger than themselves. This past week was when America began to live. If this is the shape of things to come, I’m not afraid anymore.
We can accomplish a lot in just one week.