Friday, November 11, 2016

Racism, Fears, and our President-Elect

I am going to attempt something, rather nervously. I don't think I am the most qualified but I attended a rather timely performance last week that talked about unity and compassion and stepping into spaces, so I'm going to step in it. Having been mansplained and "educated" over the last two days, I'm also a little worried about how my tone will be taken so please understand that I am "saying" this in a tone that simply hopes to convey information and hopefully provide understanding.
I am seeing a number of "I'm not racist" posts as well as posts that dismiss the fears of POC rather than understanding them on social media. I am hoping I can provide some insight, not from my own experience but from what I've learned from others so that the hurt, anger and fear we are seeing can be addressed. And so we will not only remind people who are scared that God is on the throne but that we stand with them.
1) David Duke called Trump's win "the greatest day of his life" and exalted in the part the KKK had in his election. Perhaps you don't believe Trump is racist (I'll address that in a moment) but you cannot deny that his election has empowered racist groups. And that should concern everyone. Take a look in the news to see stories of men wearing "Put The White Back In The White House" t-shirts intimidating voters at polling places in Florida, racist slurs that have been painted on LGBTQ and Muslim student associations in colleges, Middle Schoolers chanting "Build that wall", hijabs being pulled off on trains and in Wal Mart...the list goes on. We saw a similar effect in Britain after Brexit.

2) When Trump talks of minorities, he always speaks of the lowest common denominator: Mexicans are rapists, Muslims are terrorists and African Americans all live in gang ridden inner city neighborhoods smoking crack and shooting each other. He advocates for "stop and frisk" (which has been found to be unconstitutionally biased) and his language on crime is reminiscent of Nixon's "tough on crime" stance.
Highly recommend this book in learning how politics and policies created division and systemic injustice
3) The slogan "Make America Great Again" is implicitly racist. There is a bias there that most white, heterosexual, Christian Americans don't get. It hearkens back to the times of the 40's and 50's when life seemed simpler and the American Dream more attainable but it leaves out the injustice and horror that POC were living in during that time. We are longing for days linked with Jim Crow laws, lynching, prejudiced housing policies that were to blame for the creation of ghettos. While I understand that isn't what is meant, that's a perception issue and gets into white privilege (which a lot of people don't even want to admit exists). If we were to include all Americans, a better slogan would be "Make America Great".

You can disagree with these things but you are basing your disagreement on your experience while the POC are basing it on theirs. Telling them their perceptions are wrong dismissed their feelings and the reality of the history of this country. This is not the media's fault even though they get to share some of them blame, as do both political parties. The truth is, the divide existed before, the election just pointed it out. Instead of dismissing it, understand and empathize. Try to bridge the divide. Stop saying things like "people have spoken" because the people spoke, the electoral college won. And that is fine. It is our system. But both the 2000 election and the 2016 election seem to prove that the electoral college favors Republicans which has a number of people frustrated as well.
Having been in a space of learning about systemic injustice and racial reconciliation, I believe the fears of the POC in this country to be well founded (It would take a separate post to discuss the fears of the LGBTQ community but those are real as well). I could talk further about the dismantling of the VRA and the voter suppression that happened in several states, including North Carolina but I don't mean this to be exhaustive rather than the beginnings of an understanding.
Donald Trump is our next president. I look forward to the next four years with trepidation. Our best hope is to reach out to the "others" and try to find some common ground. At the event I attended last week, Propaganda said "We've mistaken power for progress. Power elevates a select few at the expense of others. Compassion lays down power so that everyone can be elevated." It's time for compassion.

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