Let Donald Trump’s Popularity Remind You That "Post-Racial" America Does Not Exist

By Anna Gibson

I remember Hurricane Katrina. Much like everyone else, in 2005 I watched as Black and brown people from some of the most impoverished sections of New Orleans were stranded. Everyone was left in a state of disgust and wonder as FEMA dragged their feet. Black people were on roofs and crammed into stadiums. At the height of all this, Kanye West did a segment during a Hurricane Katrina Red Cross relief concert where he uttered the famous words: “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.”

This may be true of both Bush and other candidates over the years. However, in such a ‘politically correct’ climate, we rarely come across a candidate that’s both brazenly racist and asinine in their approach to politics: that is at least until Donald Trump began his run for president. At first, the news that Trump was running for president elicited a smirk and a chuckle at best from many. At the beginning of his campaign in July, 65 percent of Republicans held an unfavorable view of Trump’s candidacy.

Despite all this, according to CNN, after the GOP debate, Trump is currently leading by an astonishing 24 percent margin, jumping well ahead of all the other Republican candidates. His campaign has been a whirlwind of ignorance from his statements about Mexicans being "rapists" to his derogatory comments about women.

The fact that Trump actually has a shot at being president says a lot about a society that claims to be "post-racial."  Of course, as many black people in America understand, the opposite is actually true. The assertion that America is a "post-racial" society thinly veils the realities of gentrification, white-flight, and the preschool to prison pipeline. We’re forced to struggle against all of these inequalities every day while white supremacy quietly seethes beneath the surface of a "post-racial" mask. Trump’s run for President and the mass support he’s getting from the Republican Party is simply ripping this mask off the face of American society and exposing white supremacy for what it truly is. As Trump has said many times in his run for president, he’s tired of the ‘political correctness’ that’s become a part of our country. He says, “This country is so politically correct. They don’t want to take a stance on anything.”

Recently, a news story broke of two men beating a homeless Latino man nearly to death. They were cited as saying, “Donald Trump was right, [sic] these illegals need to be deported!” While this may seem like a single tragic incident involving a few "lone wolves" (white apologists seem to love using that word), it can’t be denied that it didn’t occur in a vacuum. Brutality against minorities has occurred since time immemorial from when pilgrims gave Native Americans small pox in blankets to the recent Charleston shooting.

CNN further sheds light on Trump’s response upon hearing about the incident. When asked about what happened, Trump is cited as saying, “I will say that the people who are following me are very passionate…they love this country, and want this country to be great again.”

In saying this, Trump was essentially condoning violence against a group of people who have been historically alienated by American society. Even more disturbing is the large number of other Republican politicians and influential people coming out of the woodwork that seem to be pressured into agreeing with his comments. Many Southern white supremacist groups are also proud supporters of Trump, even going as far as attending a rally of his and yelling, “White power!”

Historically, this alienation of brown people hasn’t been an isolated occurrence. Black people have been ‘othered’ for over a century through many racist policies—many of which still exist. There have long been calls for black people to go back "to where they came from." Native Americans have been victims of genocide, their lands stripped from them only to be ‘given back’ in rapidly shrinking reservations with very few resources. With all of these factors making a negative impact on race relations in our society, we can only expect it to become worse if Trump becomes president. With politicians already ‘following the leader’ of the GOP candidacy, they’re perfectly illustrating how people have been itching to embrace the systemic white supremacist foundation this country was built upon.

Rolling Stone recently wrote a phenomenal piece on the harmful effects of Trump’s racist rhetoric, stating: “Trump is probably too dumb to realize it but, he can do plenty of damage just by encouraging people to be as uninhibited in their stupidity as he is…Trump is striking a chord with people who are feeling the squeeze in a less secure world and want to blame someone—the government, immigrants, political correctness, "incompetents," "dummies," Megyn Kelly, whoever—for their problems.”

In short, while Trump’s candidacy is a disaster, it also serves a purpose that he may not even be aware of: exposing the legacy of white supremacy in our country. It also shows the necessity of Black, brown, and white people to confront this system before it’s too late. White supremacy exists. Oppression against minorities exists and on some level Trump is right: we can no longer hide behind the veneer of ‘political correctness’ to make ourselves feel better about the country we live in.

Photo: Richard Drew

Anna Gibson is a student at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, who hopes to create a safe space for the marginalized to tell their stories. You can get in touch with her on Twitter @TheRealSankofa or on Facebook under the name Anna Gibson.

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