My plan was to take the month off from this blog. I made the mistake of going to the movies. I chose “THE BLACKkKLANSMAN”. Wrong movie! I should’ve chosen “Jurasic World”. Trying to get out of my head I streamed an episode of “Sharp Objects”, an HBO series I began watching last month. Another mistake! Clearly no time off this month. So, here goes . . .
Left, right, conservative, liberal, white, black . . . that’s the America the world knows. Should it be that black and white (pun clearly intended)? A year after the horrific events in Charlottesville, I’m still amazed at the the level of tolerance for such divisiveness. Actions and language have morphed into something a bit different – from hooded thugs to mainstream politicians and their advisors; from name calling to policy development; from racism to white pride, southern pride and white civil rights; from dog whistle to bullhorn.
When you’ve been the majority for a long time and you’re aware of how you treated those in the minority, you will worry about how you will be treated if the tables are turned.
The one year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA has again amplified the discussion about racism in America. Simply put, it’s time to dispense with the half-baked conversation about “erasing history” that is used as a valid argument by those who support white supremacy. We can talk about images of rebel flags, robes, hoods and protestations of “southern pride” all day long but if we lie to ourselves about what these things mean in the context of American history, we won’t learn anything from those conversations.
That’s what the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville was all about a year ago, wasn’t it? So let’s talk about erasing history as those rally participants would like us to. The history I know says that America was built on the backs of people of color. The history I know says that people of color have been oppressed and abused for centuries in this country because they were outnumbered. The history I know says that people of color have been villanized, beaten, murdered and incarcerated to keep the majority headcount intact. Is that the history we must erase in order to Make America Great Again?
And what’s with the guy in the White House? Senator John McCain, an American hero and consumate statesman loses his battle with brain cancer and, once again, the guy in the White House fails to live up to our expectations. He talks about his love for America and his respect for American servicemen yet disrespects yet another American hero . . . and the American flag is at the center of his arsenal of insults.
It’s been nearly impossible to avoid the barrage of news coverage of the mid-term political rallies across the country. Those that feature the leader of the free world have been examined and critiqued non-stop. Although more polished, to many, these rallies appear to be extensions of what the Charlottesville rally represented last year because of the divisive language that drives them.
The rally in Charlottesville last year and the political rallies across the country this year aren’t about the America of old. They’re about present day fear. Fear of what’s happening every day in this country . . . population growth. Population projections say this is far more than racism. It’s about fear of losing control. That’s the link to the America of old.
A little over a year before the 2016 Presidential election, the United States Census Bureau released a report detailing projections for the U. S. population as far out into the future as the year 2060. In essence, the report projected a majority-minority as early as 2040. People of color, those who would benefit most from this change, are not afraid of the report’s projections. White Americans, the group negatively impacted by these projections, understand the change. They see migration into the country as a driving force impacting that population change. The fear that followed is seen in so many areas of American society.
When you’ve been the majority for a long time and you’re aware of how you treated those in the minority, you will worry about how you will be treated if the tables are turned. And the tables are turning . . . that’s a fact. That’s the fear! Surely we all ask ourselves how we would treat those who have mistreated us. That reality creates the need to create law or policy to slow the pace of these projections.
. . . it’s time to dispense with the half-baked conversation about “erasing history” . . .
This population shift is a large part of the explanation of the rise of overt white supremacist activity in the country. This change is why we see such chaos at the highest levels of American government. Where that leaves us is anyone’s guess. We can speculate about who is racist all we want but those population projections are real. They aren’t changing. What’s changing is how the country is reacting to those projections.
Couple that fear with the number of unemployed, under employed, uneducated or under educated Americans and you will find a group of people who feel left behind by economic and cultural changes. To them, that translates into a belief that discrimination against White Americans is as significant as discrimination against people of color. It’s no surprise that they support efforts to slow or even halt immigration into the country. That fear also helps to explain the actions of many of the administration’s department heads as they return the country to a time gone by.
The division we see and call hate because it is wrapped in divisive images and language simply isn’t viewed as racism to many. It’s fear and the fearful can’t articulate that fear in any other manner.