Midterms: A Brief Thought From A Recovering Evangelical POC

One of the more bizarre moments of my life came after I’d graduated college, entered the workforce with friends from school and realized that I was the token black friend in all of my white friends narrative. I relayed this to them and we laughed about it because we were the generation that grew up with the Wayans Bros. “Scary Movie” style spoofs. They often poked fun at the Hollywood tropes that popped up, so pointing out the fact that I was living out my tokenization in real life caused a breaking-of-the fourth-wall moment for us all. A life-imitates-art kind of moment.

Another wall it broke for me was the illusion that, underneath it all, my white friends were experiencing life essentially analogous to myself. Sure, here and there there were things that made life different for me, but only insomuch that they were only slightly more difficult.

But as harmless as that moment was, it had begun to peel back a sinking feeling I’d been having for years, one visually portrayed by Jordan Peele’s sunken place in “Get Out”. My right frontal cortex did, in idle moments, what it does best: piece things together. I later realized why things like colonialist evangelical christianity, male supremacy, economics, and ideas of attractiveness (to mention only a few) bothered me so and I was compelled to stay on the outside of them: they are all predicated on a scale and a system where they value some people’s lives more than others.

The election of Barack Hussein Obama to the office of President of the United States of America has proven that moment for us as Americans. His was the pickaxe that struck the cornerstone of our institutions so perfectly that they exposed the underpinnings of the foundations we built our country upon. The plaster facade fell away and we’ve discovered the bodies we’ve hidden in the wall. The institution of slavery, the genocide of manifest destiny, the treatment of women, in fact, I’m already bored of listing them, our rap sheet is so long.

His election so perfectly dredged up our violent wrongs as a country. I don’t regret it for one moment. The psychological wound of slavery and genocide may never be able to be healed. But I do believe in grappling with these ideas as a country and as a culture, if there is a path to healing, it lies there.

I don’t, for one moment, think anything positive will come out of midterms or any one election of any one representative. The thing that has been true before now is still true: people and laws are only granted the power we, the governed, give them. As a person of color, I hope that my voice will be listened to. As someone that believes in our ability to change, I know I will not stop telling my story. I will not stop fighting for people that have been marginalized, and will continue to be a safe place for those that have been disenfranchised and told that their life is forfeit.

For now, though: I honor this system of governance in all it’s flaws, and cast my vote as completely as I can for whatever will more closely unite us as people. I love America. I won’t stop loving it just because it doesn’t love me.

Derrick Keith Rollins Jr