Now that former President Trump’s term is effectively over, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. However, we as Americans did not come away from the Trump Presidency unscathed. We have collectively gone through a traumatic experience whereby the leader of our country used social media to spread bigotry, disinformation, nativism, and xenophobia. We awoke every day to check the latest news on his latest racist statement or the latest news from the dysfunctional and chaotic administration. Those of us who have been primed to check the news and our Twitter accounts every day for Trump’s divisive words may still find ourselves doom scrolling without the doom.
Research has shown that racist words can have an impact on our mental health. Racism and xenophobia can create a traumatic response. To be implicitly biased against a group of people can make that group of people feel inferior and othered, even though they are an important part of our country and are not inferior. We as Americans try to make our country better. We try to live up to our founder’s words of all men are created equal (and women). And our hope is that the divisive language will see its way out of our social media feeds and out of our newsstands.
President Trump may well be remembered for the division he sought, the insurrection he created, the white supremacy he fomented with his words. And that had an impact on us. As the new US Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman wrote in her poem, “That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped; that even as we tired, we tried.” It is possible that we grieved for a country that we thought was a country of higher ideals only to elect a President who didn’t live up to that promise. And we saw his words give a platform to hate, in fact, much of his platform was racism and xenophobia. And yet, we grieved and experienced trauma only to see an insurrection. Many people said this isn’t America, but I think, this was the America of Trumpism. We need to seek to quell those demonic parts of our American culture and confront bigotry everywhere it is, even if it makes us uncomfortable.
Our country must grieve and we must understand the trauma that has been created by Trumpism. Only then can the United States, much like a phoenix, rise again better than it ever was and become the country it should have always been. We must face what America has become, what it has always been, so that we can find a new reality where America again represents the promise for a multicultural, diverse, and equitable world full of promise.