By Dr. Karsonya Wise Whitehead
When I was younger, my Nana used to say that there were some things in life that were undeniably true: The earth was going to spin. Nothing was certain, but death and taxes. It was hard to be a black woman in the South. She would shake her head and tell me that when things were undeniably true, the facts were so overwhelming that any attempt to argue against it would prove both futile and useless. I have kept her list and have added to it over the years: Voting is a civic duty. Black lives do matter. White supremacy is a clear and present danger. And, most recently, Donald Trump is a racist, bigoted xenophobe. I have never been surer of this than I am at this moment. He has actively and consistently used his platform to promote messages of racial division, intolerance, and hatred. He is both a powerful man and a dangerous one and has never attempted to hide it. His racism is not new. His xenophobia and bigotry are not new. His hatred for black and brown people and his blatant disregard for women is not new. According to a recent article in The Atlantic (“An Oral History of Trump’s Bigotry”), Trump has been actively promoting a racist and separatist agenda since 1973, when the Justice Department filed charges against him for alleged acts of racial bias at his family’s real-estate company. Over the years, as his platform has gotten larger—from real estate to television to the Oval Office—he has become more steadfast in his resolve to discredit, endanger, offend, and eliminate people of color, people with disabilities, and children.
This past weekend was another textbook example of what power looks like in the hands of a racist megalomaniac. On Sunday morning, as thousands of people braced themselves for the planned Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, Trump chose to focus his attention on the ongoing spat between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar (“The Squad,” as they have come to be known). He took to Twitter and shared his racist, bigoted, xenophobic ramblings with the world. He stated that all of the Representatives came from “countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe” and that they should, “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places.” What was most disturbing about his asinine assertion is that three of them were born in America, and the other, like his mother, is a naturalized citizen. Even though they are as American as he is because they are women of color, in his eyes, they are not.
His statements though dangerous and divisive were not surprising. As expected, the reaction was swift as everyone on the left, from politicians to entertainers to faith leaders, condemned his comments. When confronted (and possibly because the Republican base had been so silent), Trump simply doubled down and held firm. His words were a hollow reminder that in the perfect American narrative, access to the table, and claims to this nation, still only belong to white men. It is a classic argument as old as slavery and as dangerous as white supremacy. It is the reason why white men first put on hoods as a way to terrorize black people and why they proceeded to lynch over 4,000 of them between 1877 and 1950. It is the thread that was used to hold Jim Crow together and the grout that was laid to help build and expand the New Jim Crow. It is what led white men to burn down both the Rosewood community and Black Wall Street and why it took so long to force this country to integrate. Trump knows that ever since the election of Barack Obama and the browning of America, there is a growing number of angry, disgruntled white people who believe that they are both losing this country and losing their place in the world.
I believe that we have reached a racial tipping point where people are going to have to choose which side they are going to support. If they decide to stand with Trump, then they are taking a stand against freedom, against justice, against diversity, and against everything that we stand for and believe in as a nation. There is no middle ground. What is undeniably true is that our president is a racist, bigoted xenophobe, and anyone who supports him, is probably one, as well.
Karsonya Wise Whitehead is the #blackmommyactivist and an associate professor of communication and African and African American studies at Loyola University Maryland. She is the host of “Today With Dr. Kaye” on WEAA 88.9 FM and the author of the forthcoming “Dispatches from Baltimore: The Birth of the Black Mommy Activist.” She lives in Baltimore City with her husband and their two sons.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Afro-American Newspapers.