America Got Trumped!

About a week ago, the American population elected Donald Trump as their 45th President.

Let that sink in.

I’d like to believe that we have now come to the last stage of grief: Acceptance.

You are probably thinking “why would some girl in Dakar, Senegal worry about the presidential elections of the United States?” I will tell you why: Because when someone like Donald Trump wins an election in one of the biggest economic power-houses in the world, it affects all of us.

Over the past several days, I have been following the aftermath of this year’s elections and it has been ugly. With all the protests and the rapid rise of expressed racism, those of us sitting thousands of miles away, feel like America might be on its way to a new civil war. That is how bad it looks.

Now fortunately, being someone who is aware of how the media can twist stories, I am sure that the airports are not flooded with people leaving the country and I am sure that next to none of my African-American comrades are packing their bags and heading to the motherland. Although, if they decide to do so, we will welcome them with open arms.

Being the dark-skinned African Muslim woman that I am, it should be no surprise that I did not support Donald Trump. So through all of this, the only question that I have had is: How did this happen? How did an openly racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, underqualified 70 year old man get elected to run one of the most powerful countries in the world? How bad do you have to be to lose to a man like Donald Trump?

Well, I have some ideas.

It has nothing to do with the candidate and everything to do with what that candidate represents. What has happened in America for the past two decades is that the country has been stuck in the same political system. Each President has tried to tweak some of the legislature as much as they can, and to the best of their ability, but the core foundation is still the same. Ask any normal Trump supporter why they voted for Trump (emphasis on NORMAL) and they will most likely tell you that they wanted change. This is why, as much as it pains me to say it, Hilary Clinton may not have been the right candidate for the Democratic Party this year. Don’t get me wrong, I am with her. The problem is, Hilary is the system. She was in the White House as first lady, she’s been in the Senate, and she has been the Secretary of State. She has basically served her entire life in American politics. You can go to any major corporation or foundation and you will most likely find her footprints there. This is exactly what made voters run away. How can someone who basically lives for the system be expected to change it? People were afraid that putting her into office would basically mean four more years of nothing (or worse).

This is how Trump won. A successful billionaire from a non-political background who speaks his mind and wants to “make America great again.” Believe it or not, not all Trump supporters are racist, sexist, or a “basket of deplorables.” A lot of them are just people who are sick and tired of the system. They are people who fear globalization and immigration, and who disagree with liberals when it comes to topics such as abortion or same-sex marriage. But they have had to be silent and that is the problem. America, “land of the free”, has become “land of the agree-with-me-or-you-will-be-ostracized.” People who fear black people, who feel like Latinos have taken their jobs, who only view Muslims as terrorists; they don’t have a voice in America. Then, in comes trump! He came in and said out loud what people were already thinking in their heads. He gave them a voice. He fed the fire. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with these people. However, we shouldn’t think of their thoughts and fears as less valid because their feelings are real for them.

Trump supporters couldn’t have an open discussion or debate without feeling like they were putting their lives and reputations on the line. It is not fair to say that, just because someone disagrees with you or has a different view point that doesn’t happen to be “liberal,” that they are uneducated or uncivilized. There are people who have Masters Degrees and yet still hold prejudices against “the other.” There are people who live and/or serve in black communities and yet are still racist. There are people who have lost their employment because of jobs being outsourced to other countries. The problem is that no one has taken the time to talk to them and understand why they are having these feelings and explain to them why their negative energy and hate is being put in the wrong place.

When I was younger, I was taught that if someone doesn’t agree with you, you have a discussion about it and try to understand and find some common ground. That is what was lacking in this election. The Left didn’t try to understand the worries of the Right, and the Right, having been fueled by Trump, no longer was willing to listen to what liberals had to say. Don’t get me wrong, there are some very closed-minded and nasty people who support Trumps policies. Being an open-minded and tolerant person myself, I don’t accept things like racism and xenophobia. However, it doesn’t stop me from trying to understand people who hold these beliefs and try to recognize where their feelings and their fears come from. Politicians underestimated the power of open communication and common understanding in this election.

If these kinds of open discussions had taken place more freely and without negative repercussions, maybe Trump supporters would have learned that Islam is against abortion as well. Or that the immigrants that they fear are actually making their lives more comfortable without them even realizing it. Or even that liberals want change as much as they do. Because they were shut out, they waited until they got into that voting booth and they let their voices be heard.

So now what? The damage is already done, right? Yes, Trump will be your next President but he will not run your daily life. Sometimes, God puts us in a tough place to wake us up and make us better. So don’t wait for the country to crash and burn. Be the change that you want to see in America. Do volunteer work, get involved in your local neighborhood and local politics, do something! Don’t just sit and wait for others to do it and then complain if things don’t go your way. Look at the elections? No one, including the media, thought that Donald Trump was going to win. Everyone was so sure that Hilary was going to win that literally millions of people didn’t vote. So don’t be afraid to debate and protest peacefully. Take yourself out of your “bubble” of likeminded people and test yourself by meeting and discussing with people who think differently from you. Be open to different viewpoints but, most importantly, respect one another as human beings.

Beat Trump at his own game and make America great again.

**picture from zdnet.fr

Be a Proud african

My fellow African,

Do you know how amazing you are?

We as Africans don’t get a lot of words of encouragement. We are just not used to it. That needs to change. Now.

The past several weeks, I have really tried to listen to the comments I hear around me about Senegal (and the African continent in general) from both Africans and non-Africans. What I hear saddens me. I hear criticism that isn’t constructive, refusal to believe in development, and inability to break free from the mental bondages of colonialism.

When I asked my Senegalese compadres why they had such negative comments about our beloved country and continent they simply replied “Daara dokhoul” (meaning nothing is going right) or “Senegal dou dem” (meaning Senegal isn’t going to go anywhere). The latter is something that many Senegalese say and unfortunately they do not realize how dangerous this statement can be.

Let’s say you wake up every day and tell yourself “You are never going to amount to anything.” If you keep that mindset, do you really think you will be able to accomplish your goals? I highly doubt it. The same thing goes for us Africans. If we keep telling ourselves that our countries suck, that we will never have a bright future, and that we will never develop our country then we never will get anywhere. You have to believe to achieve. You can’t just expect things to occur magically. You have to put in hard work to get where you want.

But I understand how we have become this way. Let’s face it, we have had some hard blows. Colonialism has really left its mark. Sadly, we still argue about skin color, hair texture, tribes and social status. When we should be focusing on economics, education, self-sufficiency, and diminishing poverty.

So how about we change our mindset. Let’s be proud Africans. This doesn’t mean saying “We are perfect” or “We are the best” (although if you want to, by all means). This means loving ourselves, loving our continent, accepting our faults, identifying our issues, being unapologetically African, and believing that we can get better. We know that we are not perfect and there is major room for improvement. But we shouldn’t let this stop us from being champions. We need to stop looking at our problems as obstacles and start seeing them as opportunities.

I wanted to do my part so I started a facebook page called “#SenegalDeyDem” (meaning “Senegal WILL go somewhere”) to counter the ever-so-popular “Senegal dou dem”. I know that it is a small act but sometimes it’s the small things that grow into huge movements. Someone else can see this page and want to start something similar and the movement can keep growing.

I believe in the future of our continent. I know that I am just one person. I also know that there are thousands of other Africans who are trying to do amazing things for their countries but who also think that they are just “one person.” Together, we can be a pretty strong group. I can already see a new generation of entrepreneurs and leaders rising. Let us encourage and help each other because, in the end, this beautiful land is ours and we are all in this together.

Feature: Begging for Personal Space

Today, AfroMinded is proud to feature Madmaks! A young Senegalese leader.

BIO:

Madmaks considers himself a global citizen. He yearns to soak in all cultures and ultimately grow from it. He looks at culture and societal edicts with a critical eye in order to get to the core of every matter he finds himself or his people involved in. His writings are based on personal experiences and he uses them as an outlet for all the uncomfortable questions he constantly ponders on.

Without further ado, here’s what Madmaks has to say:

“I have always had that feeling that something was off with me. Well, people around me never missed an opportunity to make the remark. For instance, I could be all friendly and outgoing for a moment but the next day, I would seem far off, pissed, arrogant, soof* .  At some point I tried (one never succeeds in something they are not), but it was even worse as I had to force myself to socialize and conform in ways that seemed tocut off a part of my soul. I ended up damaged.

Luckily I am now able to put a word on my blessing. Yes, I am blessed to be an INTROVERT. After a few psychology classes,  several years of soul searching and a few months in a place where “me time ” was allowed, nay encouraged, I have reached a point in my life when I  can fully embrace that part my personality.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean that I hate being around people. It just means that I need some time to be alone, time to put together pieces of information, emotions and lingering issues that might be a source of turmoil if not properly dealt with.

The mind of an introvert cannot process ongoing events. It works like a machine that loads raw information in order to process it on resting mode. If it loads a lot of information without processing it, a sort of mental clog sets in, causing discomfort and bitterness.

Self-knowledge is crucial in the development of an individual. It gives us the tools to anticipate an eventual difficult situation, deal with it and learn from it.

My personal me times involve writing, reading, listening to music or just lying in my bed and staring at the ceiling. I usually keep a straight face, which makes people around me assume that I am pissed or bored.

To all the introverts out there, I feel you. It is a tough time for us, especially in this era when technology makes it even harder to isolate from all this mess. I am still struggling with these endless group chats, Facebook notifications that are more distracting than productive.

I have read that «being alone is not the same as being lonely”.

So this is to more moments of self-affirmation in our hideaways, may they be physical ormental. These fortresses of solitude really constitute our cocoons, from which we can burst out stronger and ready to deal with all the bullshit out there.”

*soof= antipathetic

Deciding To Be Great

“There comes a time in life where you have to decide to either be good or be great. Do you want to be ordinary or extraordinary?”

This has been on my mind for months now and I can’t shake it.

I just didn’t understand why this kept coming up? As someone who does her best no matter the task, it bothered me that I kept having these thoughts because it made me feel like I wasn’t trying hard enough. My brain hit the replay button and wouldn’t stop. So, I actually had to sit and think about it.

Unfortunately, I came to realise that I am not trying hard enough. I am not pushing myself. I am settling for “good” and “comfortable” instead of “great” and “risky.” I looked at the people around me; my family, my friends, and my colleagues. I noticed that a lot of people were just settling for “good” and not really trying to do more. They work the same job, get some money, and that is enough. Don’t get me wrong, if this is what they want then there is nothing wrong with it. If “good” satisfies them then who am I to say otherwise? Let’s face it, life would be a lot easier if I could do the same. But I can’t.

Upon a lot of reflection, I accepted the fact that I am someone who needs challenges and needs to push themself. Deep down, I know that I can do better and aim for higher goals. But with that thought comes a lot of fear. Fear of failure. When you are used to being one of the best, the thought of being one of the worst is terrifying. But there is no success without failure.

So I made the decision to aim higher. And if you have had the same thoughts that I have had, then give yourself a chance and do the same. There is nothing wrong with trying and failing; as long as you can say that you tried your best and you gave it a shot. I don’t want to be an old woman with a bunch of regrets. I want to look back at my life and say “I have no regrets. I did my best.” Whether it be in your professional life, love life, religious life, or anything else. Give yourself a chance to be great.

● AfroMinded●

Writer’s Block Hit Me

Yeah, that’s right. I got hit. Bad

Never have I ever had so many ideas and yet so little inspiration to write.

Writing has always come so easily to me. When I was in middle school and high school, I could spit out poems and short stories like it was nothing. But the past few months, I haven’t even been able to write a simple paragraph! I’ve only heard the term ”writer’s block” but I’ve never experienced it. If it came at a time when I didn’t have as many projects, it wouldn’t be a problem. But then it wouldn’t be as much fun, would it?

So, you are probably wondering, what did I learn from it? Right? I mean, I can’t just come on hear and tell you that I had writer’s block and then log off? What kind of blogger would I be?

I am a somewhat normal human being and sometimes, we need a break. I always say, if you don’t take a break, life will take a break for you. This doesn’t mean that you should stop chasing after you dreams or stop working hard. Absolutely not. This means that we are only humans. We are programmed to stop every once in a while and breathe. When I look back a couple of months, I see that I tried to cram too much into too little time. Something that I do often but usually manage to pull through. This time, however, there was a fault in the system. And you know what? That is OK. If everything worked all the time, there would be no need for updates and nothing would ever improve. However, nothing get’s fixed by simply laying around. You may find yourself in a situation that you haven’t planned on and that has completely taken you by surprise. But just TRY. The quicker you decide to try to change that situation, the quicker you will find the solution. I wish answers could fall out of the sky but, since life is no fairytale Disney movie, that’s most likely not going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the power of prayer just as much as the next person. However, God gave us free will for a reason.

Things happen, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take an active roll to try to change it. So at 22:11 (10:11 PM) on the 05th of December 2015, I, Afrominded, sat on my computer at work, opened a blank Word document, and broke my writer’s block.

Stay tunes for the result!