By: Nia Stewart
In the past, Saturdays were sacred in my household, and Saturdays’ dinners were always something I could look forward to. That is, until last month when politics had finally reached its final destination in my life, the dinner table, and has refused to leave ever since. Before this year, the only politician I truly knew and liked was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and, now from this month only, I’ve gotten to know at least forty politicians that I either like or don’t. The political conversations have only escalated over the past two weeks at my dinner table, and only three issues are continually mentioned.
The coronavirus, otherwise known as Covid-19, has certainly been a menace around the world, but it has caused a literal rift in America. However, it’s not the disease itself that is tearing the nation, but the handling of it from our nation’s leaders. President Trump established the Covid-19 task force on January 29th, a few days after the first official reporting of Covid-19 in America, and put his vice president, Mike Pence, as the head of the operation. Despite Pence not having any medical experience, Trump’s task force claimed that they could manage the virus and that the American people shouldn’t be concerned. That facade quickly ended, and, in reality, the force seemed to only be another stage debut for President Trump, who also has no medical experience and isn’t afraid of voicing his outrageous opinions. Throughout the first critical months of the rise of Covid-19, Trump had voiced his opinions--ranging from his ideas on cures to calling the virus “a hoax”--and risking people's lives in the process.
The constant spread of misinformation has reached Trump’s massive following, where a majority truly believe that whatever comes out of Trump’s mouth is automatically true, and facts that actually debunk Trump’s theories are wrong, or false itself. Trump’s most crucial opinion that really put many lives at risk was the use of masks. Since early April, Trump has been downplaying the effectiveness of masks, saying repeatedly “ You don’t have to do it.” Of course, his opinion reached his followers and they have expressed their feelings towards the mask with the backup of Trump’s own actions. By refusing to wear a mask in public, Trump and his followers may have amped the spread of Covid-19 and allowed the virus to move as freely as it wanted--killing more than thousands that came in its path. According to Stat, an American health-orientated news website, a total of 130,000 lives would have been saved if the mask were universally worn, and yet, people are still denying the effectiveness of the mask because of Trump’s actions and statements regarding wearing one.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only misinformation that Trump has said that has been taken as serious amongst a larger number of people, and in the process has risked many lives. Ranging from completely false allegations of cures to claims on Covid-19, who was supposedly “going to go away without a vaccine … and we’re not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time.”
Since slavery, racism in America has only grown over the years and has slowly been creating separation among the American people. This year, three major events have led to the current rise of the Black Lives Matter protest, a movement similar to the Civil Rights movement. On February 23rd, 2020, the tragic shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, on March 15th, the unnecessary shooting of Breonna Taylor, and on May 25th, 2020, the last conclusion to the tiresome tale, the killing of George Floyd. Each event was recorded, which helped because it allowed the nation, and those around the world, to witness the shadowed racism that is still occurring. However, it shouldn’t have to be recorded for people to notice. Bystanders shouldn’t have to record officers, who are supposed to be protecting lives, and other offenders killing African Americans just so that nations’ leaders can finally address the ongoing problem of equal rights among cultures.
Even amidst the Covid-19 spread, protesters, from each state, took to the streets to vocalize in an attempt to reach the American leaders to address the underlying racism that has been boiling underneath. Despite the good intentions, many protesters were met with tear-gas and violence, basically signifying to the world that no change was to come of the movement. As a person of color, I watched the protesting from a distance, giving some sense of support towards those who are risking their lives for the lives of thousands of minorities ’, like myself. However, the protesting has received mixed feelings across the nation. The good of it is that protesting on Black Lives Matter in America, has sparked worldwide protests around the globe, and much memorabilia has been created to remember this particular movement--the most well-known being the Black Lives Matter Plaza in DC.
Unfortunately, there have been negative reactions from those who either don’t support the movement or have any clue what the movement truly represents, typically those who claim that “ All Lives Matter.” Now, look, I’m not saying that all lives don’t matter, they do, but, at this moment in time, black lives are the lives that currently need national attention. And there shouldn’t be reasoning for it, because this has been happening for years and building up to this moment. Not only that but people have been seen with guns, threatening to shoot peaceful protesters in an attempt to demean the issue. The saddest part of it all is knowing that there are more cases out there. More cases, like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery’s, haven’t reached national attention, so, together as a nation, we have to address this before it really gets out of hand. Overall, we have to know that every life is equal no matter what race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious belief differs from the majority. Mya, a 21-year old student, says it best, “This form of oppression, the killing of black people, has been happening in our society for over 400 years. Enough is enough. We are tired.”
“Soap Operas, politics. Politics, soap operas. Is there any difference,” Fredricke Stewart, an IT worker, jokingly mocked when I asked her after her thoughts on the recent election. After the 2016 election, communities were already split between the Trump supporters or others, meaning anyone who doesn’t support Trump. Even for myself, I developed this stereotypical standpoint on those who supported the opposing candidate from me and I’m not just talking about Trump. So, throughout the four years of Trump’s presidency, I have tried not to mention politics during school, or to my friends, only rarely speaking about it to my family members. Even then, I mostly only asked questions and never really showed any interest in understanding politics. That is until the 2020 election, specifically the presidential election between Donald Trump and Democrat-candidate Joe Biden, was rounding the corner and suddenly I was intrigued by political science, more by the drama that came with it. Leading up to election day, many political incidents occurred that caused an even further rift between the nation, and there are so many that I choose to discuss one that really bothered me to my core. Ever since Trump’s win in 2016, the number of white supremacy groups drastically increased, ramping up to 48 new groups in just one year, and there was a 17% increase in 2017 of hate crimes just to prove it.
This year, the Wolverine Watchmen, a paramilitary militia group, hatched a plan to kidnap the Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, in an unrealistic attempt to overthrow the state government. Of course, they failed, all suspects were arrested before the plan could fully take place. However, the foiled kidnapping wasn’t the most disturbing outcome of the situation, but Trump’s response to it. Since October 8, Trump has continually downplayed the alleged plot and has remained to verbally attack Whitmer, the victim in all this, mostly chanting “Lock her up” among his followers. These reactions, from our nation’s leader no less, only amplified other white supremacy organizations’ confidence and only urged for more groups to form. Despite all of this, abundances of people are still supporting Trump and constantly trying to justify his actions, as if Trump meant no harm by saying it knowing very well that he always says what he means.
After the 2020 election results announced Joe Biden as the 46th president of America, it seemed as if America was somewhat pushing forward, even nations around the world celebrated Biden’s victory, but I was still deeply troubled by the final popular vote of which millions of Americans voted. Trump lost the popular vote by around five million votes. At first glance that number seems like a larger number but compared to the total amount of votes counted, a total of around two hundred million voters, the number is closer than one realizes. America finally showed its true colors, confirming what I didn’t want to believe. Even after the entire Trump’s presidency and this year only, ranging from Covid-19 to racism, and finally the 2020 election, people still wanted to keep the same leader in charge, who either caused or increased a problem. Nonetheless, Biden won the popularly, by five million votes, and the electoral, by twenty over, and that filled me with hope. Hope that soon this nation will finally come together and the hatred will slowly, but surely, fade out before I even have the opportunity to go over the Talk with my own children.