No one’s moving anywhere. My friends Dahlia and Chris aren’t going to Mexico, and Alexis is not going to Copenhagen. My gal Nancy’s not permanently packing up and moving to Umbria, and Duke is not moving to Thailand with his cousin Jake.
And you? You aren’t going wherever the heck you say you are moving to now that Donald Trump is going to be president of the United States of America.
What we all do is this: We stay and fight.
First, we wait and see. Even Hillary Clinton said Wednesday, “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”
But if we don’t like what happens, we fight it. We take to the streets and rekindle memories of the anti-Vietnam War protests and civil rights marches. We don’t run and hide. We don’t abandon America.
We’ve been through far worse. A perceived threat is not as bad as a punch in the face.
I feel, strangely, not what I thought I would “the morning after.” I’m more patriotic than I was yesterday. More in love with my country than I have since, I guess, Sept. 11, 2001.
As my old friend Aqeela Sherrills, a longtime Watts gang interventionist and community activist said in a Facebook post Wednesday: “There’s a gift in every tragedy... A Trump victory is an opportunity, if your like me, I do my best work under pressure. Don’t go to Canada or where ever you thinking, The U.S. is ours! and no President, Senate, Congress or White House will tell me otherwise!... lets go to work!”
The country our parents, uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents fought for is sliding around a hairpin turn, but it hasn’t crashed.
Yesterday, a guy I know from the streets showed me a knife he had in his waistband. A killing knife. It made me think of “Saving Private Ryan”and a brutal, achingly sad scene: room-to-room fighting, a German soldier slowly pushing a killing knife into the chest of an American soldier.
When I went home, I Netflix’d “Saving Private Ryan” with the intention of forwarding to that scene, but instead I started watching from the beginning. The first 25 or so minutes show the first wave of Allied forces landing on the beach at Normandy, D-Day, 1944. It’s one of the most powerful movie sequences ever filmed, and it ends with a panorama of bloody corpses washed along by the tide.
What happened Tuesday doesn’t compare to those days. Everyone walking around like it’s the end of civilization now that Trump is in? It’s not. We’ve been through far worse. A perceived threat is not as bad as a punch in the face.
I was on a text thread Tuesday night that included several millennials. It started with how wonderful the election was going turn out: the first woman president, the rejection of hateful talk.
But as the eerie night moved on, the thread’s tone changed to doom. “I’m terrified,” “so upsetting,” “I’m really scared,” “will we get through this shameful moment,” “this is horrific,” “I cannot take this.”
Yes you can take this.
At Men’s Central Jail last week I saw my old friend Cleamon Johnson, a.k.a. Big Evil. We got to talking about the election, and Big Evil said, “This fool might win. But sometimes you have to go all the way down before you can rise.”
So everyone, don’t start packing. Get ready for a fight.
And watch the first 25 minutes of “Saving Private Ryan.” You’ll know we’ve been through a whole lot worse.
Michael Krikorian is the author of the novel “Southside.” KrikorianWrites.com. @makmak47
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Allied forces landed on the beach at Normandy in 1944, not 1945.