Anthony Grimes on Black Lives in the Age of Trump

Written by Noelle Edwards

Anthony Grimes spoke this past Wednesday on the topic of “Black Lives in the Age of Trump.” As the presidential election approaches, Grimes posed issues that both the black community and our society as a whole face as we move closer to the election.

Anthony Grimes grew up in the Park Hill neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. Raised in the middle of a gang war, it was where he experienced one of the most influential periods of his life, raised by a black woman. His mother represented what many black mothers across the country are faced with: unjust circumstances and the unfair loss of children. He watched his mother look at her daughter who had passed too soon, and saw her “refuse to hate, refuse to hate white people, refuse to hate society, refuse to collapse and die.” Anthony reflected that these were the formative years in which he developed his value system.

“I watched my mother be one of the original Mamie Tills, Emmett Till’s mother, who watched her daughter be brutalized and terrorized and after viewing the body said not ‘it’s time to go to war’ the values of the age of Trump, not ‘we should retaliate, we should be vengeful, we should kill, we should respond, we should react’ but Emmett Till’s momma said something along the lines of what my momma said. ‘I don’t have a second to hate, I will fight for justice for the rest of my life,’” said Grimes.

Grimes embodied this value system through the various organizations he is affiliated with or has worked with in the past.

These organizations include: The Park Hill Parish, The Denver Freedom Riders, the Interfaith Peace-Builders, and the International Fellowship of Reconciliation. Not only is Grimes a human rights activist, he is also a writer, pastor, theologian and photographer/filmmaker.

Grimes  visited Colorado College at a crucial point in the election process. On the heels of the most recent presidential debate, he acknowledged the event as a “mockery of democracy.” Grimes’ talk, named “Black Lives in the Age of Trump”, focused on the white male patriarchy that suppresses the potential progress of our society and perpetuated the “old way of doing things.” He opened with the statement, “I’m here because I can’t not be here, my conscience leaves me no other choice.”

Grimes discussed the “death of dialogue” and the age of technology we are currently in. As was painstakingly clear in the debate, the patriarchal figure, embodied by Trump, consistently interrupted Hillary Clinton, answering based on emotion and the social group he identifies with rather than fact. Grimes posed the alternative option of respecting the speaker regardless of whether or not one respects the opinion. Our society has strayed from this method in recent years. The patriarchy does not listen to what others have to say. Instead, it ignores and interrupts.

Grimes said, “When you look at the roots of violence in our country you can’t just look at a particular demographic, you’ve got to look at the fact that much of it is rooted in this thing called patriarchy.”

To Grimes, what it means to be black today is to not give up hope, to persevere in being human in a place that constantly tries to destroy our humanity. Grimes said, “the Black Lives Matter movement is about a new value system.” In relation to previous movements for racial justice in the black community, the demographic of the movement is so much younger than it once was. Grimes begs us to consider what we, as students at CC, plan to leave this institution with. Why are we here? What do we hope to bring to the table in the face of a changing society?

Grimes referred to the ideas of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he proposed both the revolution and the counterrevolution. While Trump embodies the counterrevolution, it is the youth of this country that had the opportunity to be the revolution. Grimes stressed that “no matter what the polls say, I’ll cling on to hope.” He reiterated that it is imperative that the black community remain rooted in its traditions, those that extend long before slavery.

Alum Mohammed Mia said, “I wanted to come here to listen and learn more about how the prophetic tradition of truth-telling gages with social activism and the relationships that can arise between the two of them.”

Another important aspect of this talk is the identity of this country. Grimes emphasized the importance of redeeming the soul of America. Furthermore, this is in fact what the Black Lives Matter movement represents, the redemption of the soul of this country. The country must redirect our values to focus on community and dialogue rather than the suppression of the two. “America is a hope, it’s a dream, but it is not yet a reality for black people”, said Grimes.

Sam Fesshaie, said “I can branch out as an individual and as a CC student and try and get more involved in issues outside of the U.S. as well and seeing those parallels between what I face as a black woman here, what black people in general face in the greater context in terms of the U.S. and what oppressed people face outside of the U.S. as well.”

While the name of this talk was called “Black Lives in the Age of Trump”, Grimes stated that it is in fact “the age of black lives” that matters most. Trump will merely be a footnote in history while black lives will continue to matter. He left with the issue that, no matter who wins the election, there is work to do.

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