Trump cannot keep justice down

Story highlights

  • Sally Kohn: Donald Trump has pledged to take away much of what has helped our nation rise
  • As powerful as Donald Trump may think he is, and is about to become, he cannot break justice, she says

Sally Kohn is an activist, columnist and television commentator. Follow her on Twitter: @sallykohn. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

(CNN)For those, like me, feeling absolutely devastated about the election of Donald Trump, it's important to remember that we've been through way worse. Ours is a nation that was literally born of the destruction of native peoples and was built through the brutal oppression of African slaves.

Sally Kohn
We still flounder under the legacy of that hate, and so much more. We see that legacy in the violent crackdowns on Native American protesters protecting their water rights at Standing Rock. We see that legacy in the police brutality and bias against black and brown communities. We see that legacy when our daughters are raped or sexually assaulted or treated as worthless in more quotidian ways.
And still we rise. The words of Maya Angelou give me comfort in this moment:
    You may write me down in history
    With your bitter, twisted lies,
    You may tread me in the very dirt
    But still, like dust, I'll rise.
    We have risen from worse before. Out of the deep and dark legacy of forced bondage and its close cousin of Jim Crow segregation. And with the beautiful uprisings of Black Lives Matter, still we rise. Out of a history that denied voting rights to anyone but white men with property, marching in the streets demanding votes for everyone. Like our foremother suffragettes, still we rise. Out of a culture that killed you if you were different, whether it even had words for the difference. Just like the gay and trans activists at the Stonewall Inn, still we rise.
    You may shoot me with your words,
    You may cut me with your eyes,
    You may kill me with your hatefulness,
    But still, like air, I'll rise.
    Donald Trump has pledged to take away much of what has helped our nation rise. He wants to round up and deport the immigrants who came to America armed only with the same hopes and dreams as my ancestors. He has spoken of punishment for women who have abortions (and, given the leadership of his staunchly anti-choice Vice President-elect Mike Pence, he could get away with it).
    Trump wants to ban Muslims -- a quarter of the world's population -- from studying in our universities, working in our technology companies or investing in new businesses. The home of the brave and the land of the free seems less of both this morning. We are a scared country willing to vote for a man whose promise is to protect us by making us less free. He convinced half the American people that more equality and more opportunity and more justice aren't in fact what makes America great, but are threats. Donald Trump pledged to "make America great again" for some by making it far more awful and unjust for others.
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    And yet as powerful as Donald Trump may think he is, and is about to become, he cannot break justice. He cannot keep justice down. It is a flower, masquerading as a weed. Sometimes meek and wilted, but always growing and always reaching for the sun. Donald Trump is just a giant dark cloud. The sun will always rise. And so will we.
    Out of the huts of history's shame
    I rise
    Up from a past that's rooted in pain
    I rise
    I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
    Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
    Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
    I rise
    Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
    I rise
    Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
    I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
    I rise
    I rise
    I rise.