Bright Red: On the Social Atmosphere of a Trump Presidency

 By Jaylin Paschal

A bright red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap stops holding the door for fellow consumers as I begin to walk into the mall.

Question: What disqualifies me from common courtesy?

Is it my melanin? My extra X chromosome? My refusal to look away when we made eye contact? A nervy combination of all three?

Luckily, I can open doors on my own. And my feelings aren’t easily bruised. I won’t take it personally. Maybe, he was just tired of holding the door.

I’ve made it a point not to look away from bright red “Make America Great Again” baseball caps; not to make small and shrink my stance.  So often, when facing them, I want to collapse into myself or turn my skin inside out to argue my humanity. I want to trick them. To make them think that I would be included in that great America they reference to with “again,” that “again” for me wouldn’t be slavery or segregation, but with them. To make them see white flesh instead of this “other” I wear in pigmentation.

I don’t want to be afraid of baseball caps and bumper stickers and nationalists thinking they’ve gotten “their country back.” But if I have to be afraid, I’d at least like to seem fearless; to seem like my bones don’t ache in a bright red pain or like my knees don’t lock up with the anticipation of having to run. So I prepare myself during this race by staring at bright red baseball caps for as long as they stare at me. It’s less like a staring contest and more like seeing who can hold their breath longer--lungs trying to tell you that carbon, must be exhaled; lungs trying to tell you to stop playing games that are dangerous, that are bad for you; lungs trying to tell you that you can’t keep this up for four years, that you’ll be dead by reelection.