We, as white people, have been called upon to “get our boy.” Yes, we have been called to firmly and publicly take a vocal stand against the racist vitriol constantly spouted out by Donald J. Trump.
At first, some of us were inclined to laugh off his extremist statements as something out of the ordinary, something so far “out there” that there was no possible way anyone could take seriously such hateful, narcissistic, fear mongering, and divisive lies…until they did. Until his rhetoric began to resonate with mainstream white America, and brought the white nationalist sentiments of many white people in the U.S. out in the open. Such sentiments have been promoted by corporate-owned media; specifically the lies of Fox News and its affiliates, but supposedly liberal NBC also saw fit to invite Trump to host Saturday Night Live even after his racist remarks and tolerance of violence by his followers. Such sentiments are also rooted in an educational system that whitewashes US history and tells lies of omission and commission about Black people, Native Americans, Mexicans, and other people of color.
Trump’s rhetoric clearly speaks to, and claims to speak for, the white supporters who attend his rallies. We witness the violent reaction from his supporters toward protesters, against heroic people of color who put their bodies on the line to publicly denounce Trump in his safe white haven. Other Trump supporters, stoked up by his anti-Mexican, anti-Muslim rhetoric, have attacked people after the rallies. When we see this, we must bear witness to this violent white mob rule. We’ve seen many violent white mobs and the harm they have caused throughout history. We need to stop this legacy of hate and violence, which Trump has encouraged by saying that a man who held up a Black Lives Matter sign perhaps deserved to be treated roughly, or that the anger of supporters who beat up Latinos was “understandable.”
Trump’s Islamophobic remarks are an example of the way that he incites a base who is seeking a scapegoat to blame for society’s ills. He consistently states that we must close down Mosques, ban Muslims from entering the country, create a government registry to track all Muslims, and use a system similar to the Japanese internment camps to handle the “menace” that has been created by Muslims in this country. We are standing up to say that the true menace lies within the hate speech of Mr. Trump. His words create violence, and give permission for scared white people in the US to vandalize mosques, threaten Muslims with violence, bully Muslim children in schools, or even kill Muslims (or those who are perceived to be Muslim).
Trump’s anti-Mexican and anti-immigrant rhetoric generally is equally reprehensible. He has branded all Mexican migrants to this country as thieves and rapists, not human beings who are fleeing from the dire conditions in their country. Remember, many of those conditions were created because of US policies and measures, such as the “War on Drugs” and NAFTA. These devastated local economies, local environments, and ways of life in Mexico, Central America and elsewhere.
Trump has not disavowed the support he has received from open racists and neo-Nazis, like David Duke or Stormfront. He has retweeted remarks by a fascist who created a meme showing Trump, in a Nazi uniform, condemning to a gas chamber Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (who is Jewish). Trump, who led the “birthers” who claimed Barack Obama was not born in the US, has been using the same tactic to question the US citizenship or nationality of his Cuban-descent Republican opponents, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. He has become the predominant voice and face of “white nationalism” in the US. Trump has made vile misogynist statements and mocked a disabled reporter. His alleged “humor” has also been directed against figures in the Republican Party and FOX News, not only against women he identifies as “liberals.”
No matter what side of the aisle one may be on, it is common knowledge that politicians tend to be swayed by money, and become mouthpieces of donors. Trump’s donor base includes groups dedicated to pushing anti-Muslim agendas such as the Sarah Scaife Foundation, Carthage Foundation, and Allegheny Foundation, who have donated a combined $10.5 million to Islamophobic groups from 2001-2012. Furthermore, another Trump donor, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, donated $6.5 million to Islamophobic groups in that same time period. With donors such as these, it is no surprise that Trump amplifies an Islamophobic message, and that the donors’ agenda becomes the Trump agenda. Trump’s Islamophobia appeals to a particular base of a fearful, reactionary white voting bloc, and has served to create an opening to the “mainstream” for racist and far-right elements in this country, and pushes establishment conservative politicians further and further to the right.
The foundation of Trump’s own fortune, inherited from his father Fred Trump, came out of racist real estate holdings that enforced whites-only racial covenants by excluding Black tenants and homebuyers. Many of these practices were not illegal, and had actually been encouraged and subsidized by the Federal Housing Administration, just as federal GI Bill benefits helped finance white flight to suburbs after World War II. Donald Trump himself continued the same practices even in the era of “open housing” legislation that nominally prohibited such housing discrimination.
The consequence of Trump’s hate speech is the carnage and suffering of those he chooses to scapegoat, at the hands of those in power. The US Constitution supposedly guarantees religious freedom, yet we see that this value, like other rights or ideals technically afforded in the Constitution, is only enjoyed by those who fit a specific mold and are considered safe in the minds of the ruling elite in this country. After all, one can look back at US history to see our legacy of scapegoating the “others” who embody characteristics that the ruling class chooses to fear. We use fear to scapegoat "others" in order to justify our continued domination of the economic, cultural, and educational institutions within this country. Historically, and clearly continuing to the present, the rights enumerated in the Constitution do not apply to groups or individuals such as, African slaves, Indigenous people, immigrants (including our European ancestors at one point), women, Japanese people including Japanese-Americans born in the US, LGBT people, communists, union members, Black liberation advocates...and the list continues. Today, we are living in a new version of McCarthyism, served to us by Mr. Donald J. Trump. Now it’s not about fearing communists, although the “C” word and red-baiting are still being used by the right and by pro-corporate elements in both major parties. Today it is targeting Muslims, Mexican immigrants, and Black militants. We’re not sure who will be next on the list of scapegoats, but it could be anybody at any time, especially if you choose to challenge the power elite.
We see you and hear you for what you are, Trump, and we are standing up against your racism. Your hate will fuel us with love to create a more just society. Although the wealthy white elite of this country often pit working class whites against people of color as a technique to maintain white supremacy, our vision for justice is grounded in the knowledge that there is enough for all of us, and we will counter Trump’s narrative with this message until justice prevails.
As white people of conscience, we see this legacy and we refuse to buy into the fear, hate, and scapegoating tactics of fascists. As history has shown us, Trump and Trump’s supporters are on the wrong side. However, words are not enough. We must use our actions to make sure Trump and his supporters do not represent all of us, and that his presidential campaign is ended. We must boldly speak against racism even when we feel uncomfortable, challenge ourselves to fight our own racist beliefs and actions, and put strategic pressure on our institutions to be more just. Our legacy as white people also includes those who choose to say “not in our name,” those who chose to defect from white supremacists, who have been “traitors” to white supremacy in the name of justice. We say to Mr. Trump, we will not allow you to continue pushing your divisive, fear-mongering, and hate-filled agenda that propagates the toxic beliefs of white supremacy. We denounce your calls to register all Muslims, ban all Syrian refugees, and carry out mass deportations of all people without documents.
We are taking responsibility for you, Donald Trump, as a product of, and a corrupt and oppressive force within, the white nationalism that has predominated in this country’s development. We want to act--in solidarity and alliance with Black people and others committed to freedom, dignity, equality and justice for all--to create an opposing pole of attraction, a countervailing force against your scapegoating and your justifications for racist repression and violence. We know that you have no real answers for poor and working class white men and women whose life expectancies and job prospects have dropped precipitously since Wall Street crashed the economy, or who have been incarcerated as a by-product of the racist “War on Drugs.” Only solidarity with the struggles for human rights and freedom waged by Black people, by migrants and Muslims -- by all those Trump targets -- can secure a better future for us all.
Let us be reminded that we are rooted in our abolitionist past, and that we can draw collective strength from the legacy of our ancestors who chose to not align themselves with the lynch mobs. As Anne Braden famously stated, we can choose to be part of the “other America,” the America of the freedom fighters. We -- and other white people -- do have a choice.