By Jonathan McFadden
I don’t have kids, and frankly I don’t know if I ever will.
I’m not a father. I’m not a husband. I’m not even a boyfriend.
Right now, my marital status is single in the truest sense of the word and the last prospect for altering that status bid me farewell — at my urging — over a year ago.
I can’t say with certainty if any of that will change within the next four years. What I can say without a doubt is that I’m concerned about the future of my, yours, our children.
Come January, a man who used his campaign for the nation’s highest office to incite and embolden racial animus will ascend to the throne, err White House.
Donald J. Trump will be our 45th president and already has selected for his cabinet people whose ideas on race are antiquated and downright troubling (i.e. Steve Bannon and the rest of the klan, err “Alt Right”).
I’ve heard a lot of speculation about what a Trump presidency could mean for black folk. When it became apparent in late 2015/early 2016 that Trump was a serious contender in the presidential race with an actual shot at winning, some of us would joke. It was the kind of joke that’s half-chuckle half-grimace because you’re incredulous at what’s about to happen and you know it’s bad so you laugh to cut the tension.
We’d say we’d get a return ticket on the slave ships.
That’s an awful joke, I realize. But the truth of the matter is that a lot of black people (the ones who didn't vote for him, at least) aren’t excited about this. And if I were a black parent, I’d be on my knees asking the good Lord, night and day, to be a constant hedge of protection around me and mine.
We had a black president and that didn’t stop Tamir Rice from getting shot in a park.
Trayvon Martin still got shot with Skittles in his hands. Sandra Bland still got hanged in a jail cell. Philando Castile’s girlfriend still livestreamed his final agonizing moments. Dylann Roof still massacred nine people at Bible study. And Michael Slager still got off for shooting the unarmed Walter Scott as he ran away.
The assault on black bodies is an unrelenting onslaught that doesn’t discriminate (oddly enough) based on who or who isn’t in office.
And we shouldn’t expect it to. A president is a leader. A commander in chief. A figurehead. An orator. He’s not a savior. A miracle-worker. Omnipresent. Or, supremely powerful.
President Barack Obama was never going to be able to stop bad, poorly-trained cops — or enraged motorists, or young men bearing Confederate emblems — from killing black people.
But whether you liked his approach or not, he was a president who addressed the disease and pushed for a cure (maybe not as hard as some of us would have liked but there was a push, nonetheless).
I don’t see that happening with Trump.
I don’t see him standing in front of a gaggle of reporters and calling for an end to black death. I don’t see him citing statistics showing that minorities are more likely to be shot at by police.
I don’t see him singing “Amazing Grace” at a funeral.
That brings me back to the whole kids thing.
I’ve yet to experience this feeling (and, again, don’t know if I ever will) but I’ve heard from many trustworthy sources (i.e. parents) that once you hold that baby in your arms, once you behold the sight of your progeny, everything changes. Your world becomes theirs. Your hopes becomes theirs. Your dreams, your passions, everything you work for is poured into this little creation that you are responsible for shaping and molding and supporting and loving.
And (correct me if I’m wrong), parents want their children safe and protected. If something does happen to them, they want to know there will be justice. They want to know that, God forbid, the loss won’t be in vain.
We’ve had no justice with a black man at the helm; I really don’t suspect there will be justice for our black sons and daughters with Trump at the helm, either.
That's worrisome. Because while no laws changed and Obama had no influence on the activities of our independent criminal justice system, at the very least we had a guy “at the top” who empathized with our plight. We had a father raising two black daughters in a world that hates on them because of their melanin.
There’s a sort of grim kinship that develops from experiencing shared hatred. Trump doesn't share it.
I’m not quick to buy the notion that life will automatically become worse for black people because of Trump. I’m a man of faith, and my faith says that God, not Trump, has the final word.
But I do grapple with this thought: It probably won’t get any better.
And what we need after Alton Sterling, after Eric Garner, after Freddie Gray, is better. A whole lot better.
None of us knows what the next day holds, much less the next four years. The future Mrs. McFadden (should she actually exist) may waltz into my life, get me to the altar and produce my offspring.
Or, I’ll still be single.
Either way, Trump will be president. Children will be born. Many of them will be black. And, as harsh as this sounds, some of them will die.
The questions remain: How will our president react?
What will he say, and how will he say it?
Will he appeal for understanding or incite the intolerant?
Will he offer consolation or condemnation?
Will he call for justice or just blame the slain?