I have always thought that maybe the racism of my grandfather was going to die out by the time I passed on. His hate was irrational and idiotic in my mind, and did not square with my experiences. From what I had heard from the older generations of black men I worked with growing up, things were generally getting better, but there was still a lot of progress to be made.
The last two years seem to have thrown my idealism or optimism about a world with less hate in the dust of a desert road. For a time, all we would hear on the news would be reports of the police killing unarmed black men for selling cigarettes or running away from a cop. Certainly not reasons that should have cost them their lives. It magnified for us who are not people of color the vast difference police experiences could be for them. When stories like Kalief Browder’s broke about how long he spent in prison for no reason, it just made it worse.
Then along comes the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, who has thrived on racism, sexism, and bigotry. None of this is really new to this country. We have had previous racists run for President. George Wallace and Strom Thurmond come readily to mind. However, it has been quite awhile since we have had one so openly exhort his followers to the measures he has without it taking him out of contention. His words, as extreme as they are, have only strengthened him.
On Wednesday, one of the white members of a Trump rally in North Carolina took a cheap shot at a black protester who was being led out with others. The problem is this isn’t the first time that black people, not even protesting, have been escorted or forced out of his rallies. One man was so enthusiastic and hateful when pushing a woman out of a previous rally in Kentucky that the Marines decided that they didn’t want him anymore.
Why are these people acting this way? Maybe it’s because of some of Trump’s own rhetoric. He has apparently said in his rallies that he yearned for the days when protesters would be carried out on stretchers, or that he wanted the chance to punch a protester in the face. However, the hate speech may not be the problem at all. These people may just feel they can be themselves surrounded by thousands of other like-minded individuals who look just like them. White.
Should Donald Trump be blamed for the actions taking place at his rallies? Sure, he has allowed the space and atmosphere for these hateful acts to take place, but he is not the sole cause of it. Our own cancerous society has let this racist mentality fester unacknowledged for decades, hoping it would go away all on its own. I’m sorry, but that will never happen. In situations like we are having now where so many people feel they are being left out of what is being reported as an economic recovery, that evil hatred bubbles right back to the surface because people need someone to blame for why they are not seeing the recovery themselves.
Then again some people just hate those who don’t look like them. They don’t sound like or have the same interest, so they can’t trust them. As great as the internet is, it has only reinforced this hatred sometimes.
America must be better than this and come together to destroy it. If Trump continues on through the primaries and somehow manages to get the nomination and eventually the Presidency, we will prove to the rest of the world not only our lack of intelligence, but our racial animosity. Even if he doesn’t, we have to work very hard on this issue. American conservatives have been so bold as to claim that racism is dead. If racism were really dead, men like Trump wouldn’t thrive in today’s society.