In just one day since the presidential election, Trump supporters have become emboldened. Hate crimes in the name of Trump are now being reported. Swastikas spray painted on buildings, people of color being assaulted, hate speech, etc are happening now. And of course it is because the racists of this country have now been vindicated. They now have a presidential voice with the support of both houses of Congress. They feel untouchable, and in some areas of the United State, they just might be.
But how the hell did this happen? I’m not going to offer any deep political analysis of the election, but instead focus on why it is that so much hate, racism, bigotry, and sexism still exists in this country. After the Civil Rights Movement and many of the laws put in place to protect human rights, why is this happening now? My answer is that laws don’t change the minds of people. Laws don’t fix deep rooted social problems; they control deep rooted social problems. That’s a huge difference!
And just like with any social problem, it’s complex. White racists feel like they do because: They’re poor and have been poor for generations. They were raised that way. They don’t seek and are never taught to value a dissenting opinion. They can validate their beliefs via their friends, family, and religion. They don’t understand why some laws were put in place in the first place (like affirmative action). They see anything other than white pride as a threat. The list goes on. But I do place some of the blame for this persistent racism on non-racist whites, including myself.
After this dismal election I’ve learned that all that I’ve done in the name of equality and equity wasn’t enough, not even close! And when I start to analyze what it is I’ve done, I realize that I’ve been meek. And I think my meekness and approach to changing the minds of racists is very common among non-racist whites. What do non-racists whites do when they hear a racist joke at the dinner table? Not laugh. Maybe say in a quiet voice that we don’t approve. And we do this because we don’t want to be the ones to cause a scene, to create the rift. What about when a black friend complains about the racism they face, what do we do? Mostly nothing, but some make it worse by trying to reason away another white person’s behavior. We tell our black or Hispanic friends that they misinterpreted the situation. We’re not supportive. We have been poor allies.
Our meekness in confronting racism has changed nothing. Generations of racists, bigots, and misogynists have continued to flourish in the United States because we didn’t want to fight with dad or because we couldn’t take the time to look at the situation through the lens of a minority. And now racists have won back the country and our government.
What I have learned is that we cannot be meek anymore. We cannot let a racist family member or friend tell me that we’re the ones creating a rift when we call them out on their hatred. They are the ones creating a rift. And when I think about calling people out for their hate, I even think the “hey man don’t do that” approach is all wrong. We have to be just as loud and proud as racists are. We have to put ourselves out there, take risks.
If you feel like you can’t do this alone and need support, then I urge you to join a group. A social justice group that focuses on the rights of minorities, including women and those who are LGBTQ. They will give you strength and support. For me, I think it’s time I joined the Socialist Party USA. I’ve been supporting them on the sidelines for years, not wanting to join because I didn’t want to officially belong to any political organization. But this group fights for many of things I believe to be extremely important. We all need to find a group that makes us feel strong as we start to struggle again for equality and human rights.
Non-racist whites, you have failed. It’s time to step it up.