There was an eerie quiet last night as I walked across the National Mall in the nation’s capital. I was soaking in the silence before a thin-skinned man – who mocked women, immigrants, Muslims, Congressman John Lewis and the musical “Hamilton” in his surreal ascent to political power – was about to be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.
I had just returned from the Peace Ball held at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Solange Knowles serenaded a crowd of “the rest of America” – beautiful black, white, Latina, Muslim women in ballroom gowns, activists, ordinary citizens coming together to work for an America that includes all of us, especially those who feel excluded from President Trump’s myopic vision.
Listening to Mr. Trump’s speech today, I kept hoping, maybe, he would offer something unique and fresh, considering he said he had been preparing for three weeks. I’ve seen “Home Alone 2.” I know he can act. But despite his best efforts, he resorted to jingoism, fake patriotic populism, grandiose promises and an utter lack of self-awareness and irony as he promised to fight back against the very establishment he’s a part of. There was a predictable shout out to ending radical Islam forever, which is interesting considering the reports that the Islamic State has been actively celebrating his victory because of his divisive, anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies.
I did agree with two lines. He said: “United States is your country,” and “you will never be ignored again.”
That’s true. The historically marginalized, the minorities, the Taco Trucks, the Nasty Women, the Skittles, Mexicans, those crime-infested inner cities he talks about, and the “losers,” will not be ignored.
There is hope and there will be resistance. Resistance is the rest of us – the ignored – living, breathing, waking up every day committed to striving, working and demanding equality and liberty, never apologizing for existing, but instead celebrating all the aspects of our identities that make President Trump uncomfortable.
I won’t tell my two young children that they will be victims in Trump’s America. Instead, I will tell them the best revenge against bigots has always been success.
Wajahat Ali is the creative director of Affinis Labs, a hub for social entrepreneurship and innovation.