The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reports that involvement with extremist groups is at an all-time high – with white nationalist organizations experiencing the most dramatic growth. Certainly, the El Paso massacre, Charlottesville, and several other white supremacist hate-inspired atrocities have dominated the news since #45 took office. Most on the left would agree that the president’s racist rhetoric is partly responsible for unleashing the ugly underbelly of this nation – but there isn’t agreement on the left about what to do about it or whether to take any action at all.
While extremist attacks may be on the rise, there is a general sense in black and brown communities that anti-black/anti-brown sentiment hasn’t changed much since #45 became president. When asked about this, Princeton University Professor Eddie Glaude recently said,
America is not unique in its evils – where we may be unique is in our refusal to acknowledge them. The legends and myths we tell about our inherent goodness help us to maintain a kind of willful ignorance that makes it easy to deny that racism continues to be a major American problem.
Glaude maintains that, on some level, Trump is nothing more than a physical manifestation of what this country is about. Glaude believes, as do I, that we are being presented with an opportunity to take a good, hard look at the shadow side of this country and make material changes, that would help to address a centuries-old problem.
Liberals on the other side of this issue take the position that all would be okay if the GOP was eradicated from American life. Many want to believe that racism is a problem that is limited to the domain of extreme right-wing ideologues that wouldn’t exist if the extreme right-wing didn’t exist. Some want to simplify the whole discussion by boiling it down to Republicans/bad – Democrats/good. I couldn’t disagree more–in fact, it is this kind of thinking that is most dangerous.
White supremacy isn’t just a right-wing belief–no, it is mainstream and has been since the birth of the nation (no pun intended). It is this belief system that has ordered the racial hierarchy in the United States–a hierarchy that remains intact today across every industry, in every region of this country. Our racially ordered society is so pervasive, so normalized, that it no longer requires laws to maintain it. It persists without the state mandating it.
The remedy for racism is anti-racism. This includes at least a cursory foray into critical race theory and critical whiteness studies. Avoiding much-needed discussions on race is generally what we do in this country–particularly when we are in racially mixed environments. Now, more than ever, we have to stop avoiding the unavoidable.
Here is a link to an excellent resource to help begin the conversation. Racial Equity Tools
Publisher, LA Progressive