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Vicky Mochama: The voice of Metro News.

'Stay safe, America': A Metro dispatch from deep within inauguration territory

If you can say one thing definitively about President Trump, it's that he sure has united angry white people.

Vicky Mochama, the national columnist for Metro News, behind the lines in Washington D.C.

twitter/ @vmochama

Vicky Mochama, the national columnist for Metro News, behind the lines in Washington D.C.

It seems feeble to try to discern something unitary about the American character. That’s because there’s a whole cast.

For much of the election and from my Canadian distance, there seemed to be two halves of the same whole (right and left, never the twain shall meet). Now, with the inauguration of Donald Trump, I can see that, for millions of voters — those who stayed home, those who voted as protest (hello, Jill Stein), or even those who picked the Donald — there only seemed to be just two Haves digging the same hole.

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Denise likes a Malbec. Barbara recommends the Sauvignon Blanc. They both believe “CNN and the liberal media are paid representatives of the Democratic party.” I prefer a Baco Noir.

In the spirit of not pissing off Americans (my version of an olive branch), I had offered both ladies a seat beside me at the bar while we waited for our tables after the ceremony.

In the meantime, they riffed like a right-wing doubles act. It was like Mary-Kate and Ashley but only if the Olsens believed Barack Obama had lots of secret mistresses and probably didn’t actually go to Ivy League schools.

They were there with their husbands — one couple from Arkansas, the other from Indiana. They had only just met at the inauguration. Trump brought them together.

If one thing can be said of this election and this inauguration, it is that Trump united white people.

The sea of whiteness here has had a discombobulating effect. When I went to Obama’s first inaugural in 2009, the city seemed full. And so full of black people. All over the place, there was swagger and jubilance. It was colourful — the Obama rainbow coalition was out in full force and it was being led by black people.

This year, Washington, D.C., looked familiar and strange at the same time. Everyone was friendly, but in every conversation they asked me if I was safe. When the guy wearing the “Blacks use racial slurs and commit hate crimes too” hoodie tells you to “stay safe,” you begin to worry about exits.

As Donald Trump launched into his inauguration speech, the terror of it seized me. With its gestures at law and order and a strong border, it seemed as if the flame of the Statue of Liberty would be used to burn bridges rather than light they way.

Where would all the people who weren’t on the National Mall go? Where was their exit?

Barbara and Denise were not worried about all that: President Trump is a man of his word, he’s not a politician, and he would never lie.

It seems like everyone has their own story about this American character.

But, as my new friends warned me about Obama’s birth certificate, nothing is what it seems.

Stay safe, America.

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