racism

It’s Black history month, a time of year we hear from Angry White People about the need to have their own month. Aside from the folly of seeing these racial history months as a zero-sum game, this white grievance has reached a fever pitch since the rise of Trump, someone who gave voice to Angry White People who want to make America white, er, ahem great, again.

Now we see the big divide in who really supports White History Month in the U.S. Nearly half of President Trump’s supporters think there should be a White History Month, according to a  survey released this month by Public Policy Polling. The group reports that 46 percent of pro-Trump voters were in favor of such a celebration while 36 percent were opposed.

The PPP survey also showed that Trump supporters – this shouldn’t surprise you, should it? – are a little hazy on Black history, and on U.S. history generally. The poll asked participants about legendary abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Trump seemed to imply Douglass was alive during some recent remarks: “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.” PPP says less than half, 47 percent, of Trump voters knew Douglass died more than 100 years ago, while 78 percent of Clinton supporters did.

Maybe there should be a U.S. history month instead of a white history month.

Here’s another in a series of articles exploring What the Heck Happened on November 8, particularly where it involves that vaunted White Working Class voter. According to The Atlantic article, Clinton didn’t lose their votes because she didn’t deliver an economic message but rather, they didn’t/couldn’t/didn’t want to hear it.

Trump’s white voters do support the mommy state, but only so long as it’s mothering them. Most of them don’t seem eager to change Medicare or Social Security, but they’re fine with repealing Obamacare and its more diverse pool of 20 million insured people. They’re happy for the government to pick winners and losers, so long as beleaguered coal and manufacturing companies are in the winner’s circle. Massive deficit-financed spending on infrastructure? Under Obama, that was dangerous government overreach, but under Trump, it’s a jobs plan by a guy they know won’t let Muslims and Mexicans cut in line to get work renovating highways and airports.

The writer isn’t too explicit about what the apparent cognitive dissonance among White Working Class voters is about, so we’ll make it: They’re afraid that the benefits of a liberal social democracy, benefits they would like for themselves, are going to “Those People,” AKA, immigrants and people of color. So, instead of voting for more for everyone, including themselves, they will vote against Those People having more (and, though the writer doesn’t say this explicitly, possibly screwing over themselves).

 

Elections are about a lot of things, obviously. People vote for a variety of reasons, obviously. But when you have white nationalists (AKA white supremacists) jumping for joy at the election of someone who they think will “bring their world view into being,” you really have to sit up and take notice.

One prominent white nationalist says plainly that the election of Trump was about white identity:

That concept would be that white Americans, as whites, have collective interests that are legitimate — just as blacks and Asians and every other group have collective interests that are legitimate. One obvious legitimate interest of whites is not to be reduced to a minority.

Now, I don’t think Donald Trump really thinks in those terms. But for those of us who have been trying to slow the dispossession of whites, all of his policies — at least, those pertaining to immigration — align very nicely with the sorts of things we’ve been saying for many years.

I think that is almost — well, probably entirely — an accident. He does not arrive at these views because of any kind of sense that white Americans deserve to be a majority in their own country. I don’t think he thinks in those terms.

White nationalists, again AKA, white supremacists, are overjoyed and energized. Their attendance doubled, the Washington Post reports, at their key national conference last week.

In the wake of Trump’s win, attendance more than doubled from last year’s Washington gathering of the group, which the Southern Poverty Law Center places in the vanguard of “academic racism.” The Institute’s core belief, according to the SPLC, “is that ‘white identity’ is under attack by multicultural forces using ‘political correctness’ and ‘social justice’ to undermine white people and ‘their’ civilization.”

Political correctness. You remember that phrase spat out by EVERY Trump supporter interviewed in the mainstream media in the last 18 months. If it wasn’t clear then what they meant, it should be clear now. They – white Americans who espouse these views – want the ability to shout their grievances that they have lost their dominance and they want it back.

We should listen to them, carefully. We should have listened to them. But, then, listening is not the same as condoning. Regarding race, we’re entering a very dark period in the U.S., pun not intended.

Wait. Keep reading. We know that elections have a lot of moving pieces and there are many ways to explain a “loss”: we put that in quotes because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, possibly by more than two million when all from California are counted.

But we’ve commented many times on the “Make America Great Again” slogan. Do its adherents have any idea exactly what date when America was last great? 1956? Before they were born? What has been making America not so great?

There are many answers these voters have been giving. They’ll blame NAFTA, they’ll blame ISIS – which is a minimal threat within America’s borders, but whatever – and they’ll blame the “elites” (gee, who did you think you voted for? Joe the Plumber?)

But what many have said – many white men – have said, explicitly and covertly, is that they’re losing their power. From The Nation magazine:

Indeed, when these voters scream about the economy, when Trump appealed to them, over and over, by claiming that the government was wasting their money, a big part of that was the perception that government money was going to help African Americans, single mothers, and the white people in their neighborhoods they deemed lazy. Trump ally Roger Stone said in September, about his candidate’s appeal to black voters: “When you are trading your vote for a welfare check, yes, that is a form of slavery. Yes.”

Again, not just loss of white privilege, but white male privilege. The Nation continues:

They were voting against an economy they believed was giving women a step up. In July, David Frum, in The Atlantic, compiled all of the conversations and interviews he’d done with Trump voters into an anti-elite screed written from their perspective. “In our America, the gender gap closed a long time ago—and then went into reverse,” he wrote. “Obama in the Oval Office was humiliating enough. But Hillary will be worse: We’re going to lose any idea at all that leadership is a man’s job.” I looked into this and it isn’t true. Everywhere in the country, women do worse than men in both job-market participation and in salaries. If there’s a tiny pocket of the country where women do better than men, it is not large enough to measure or make even a tiny difference in what we do measure. What is true is that women had been gaining ground. Men in rural communities across the country are unable to perceive that as anything but a loss to their own advantages.

So. Will America be great enough for them after four years of the new administration? We have to doubt that.

Make America great again? Has the candidate with that slogan ever asked what was the last year America was great? We haven’t heard it. But for his supporters, that year might have been the last time they had an unquestioned dominance in the body politic and in culture. Still, we don’t know when that was; it’s been known for a while that the white share of the population is shrinking.

This piece in the Chicago Tribune adds to the analysis of what makes the GOP candidate’s supporters – the white male voters – tick. This passage with a quote from a Texas talk show host frames the narrative:

“I want America to be America,” he says. “I want some semblance of what this country used to be. It’s worth protecting. It’s worth defending. I don’t recognize this country anymore.”

This is a white male voice preaching to a largely white male audience that has expressed many of the same sentiments, in dribs and drabs, in hushed watercooler conversations and boisterous barroom exchanges, around kitchen tables — and most of all, in the course of a presidential campaign in which Trump has become their champion and their hope.

Certainly, not all white males agree. But at this moment in American history, to be white and male means, for many, to question what happened to the opportunities once theirs for the taking, to see others getting ahead and wonder why, to feel centuries of privilege and values slipping away.

“They’re taking everything from us,” says one of the day’s callers, Stephen Sanders. “I don’t want my community changed.”

The callers express resentment of immigrants who came here illegally, suspicion of Muslims, disdain for gays. They rail against a coarsening of culture, while backing a man who brags about making unwanted sexual advances. They voice bitterness toward a society they see as rallying to save an endangered animal or to lobby for the bathroom rights of transgender children, while seeming to ignore their own pain.

Can someone say to them, “Okay, fine, I feel your pain”? And then tell them to knock off the bigotry?

Do read the rest of the piece. There is nothing about slipping economic clout or insecurity about economics. There may be some scapegoating in the “I want my country back” chants. But let’s call it what it is. For the most part this is nothing more than, with apologies to Dylan Thomas, rage, rage against the dying of the White.

From the “what the hell?” files, comes this painful segment from Fox News.

Watters approaches a number of men and women in the street, some of them elderly residents who do not speak English. He then silently mocks them for their inability to answer his questions—many of which wander from the presidential race to lame caricatures of Asians masquerading as humor.

“Is food in China just food?”

“Do you know karate?”

Toward the end of the clip, when O’Reilly said it appeared that most of the people understood the dynamics of the current election, Watters laughed: “You thought people knew what was going on?”

“They’re such a polite people,” he said, invoking yet another stereotype. “They won’t walk away or tell me to get out of here. They just sit there and don’t say nothing!”

Yeah. This is not The Daily Show, which is actually funny and makes sure the audience is in on the joke when one of their comedy reporters acts like a doofus or interviews a doofus. No, this was meant to be serious.

It is important to note that Fox News is conservative-leaning. This won’t help in bringing Asian-Americans, who, we now see, are moving quickly into the Democratic camp and where Democrat Hillary Clinton holds a 41-point lead over Donald Trump.

Maybe conservative Fox News knows that this group is lost and their aim now is to punish and ridicule them?

Fascinating article in Psychology Today that suggests “colorblindness” is really a form of racism.

Many people think colorblind ideology is the same as equality; that is, everyone will be treated the same, and their skin color doesn’t matter (or can’t be seen). The author has a different view on this:

Racism? Strong words, yes, but let’s look the issue straight in its partially unseeing eye. In a colorblind society, White people, who are unlikely to experience disadvantages due to race, can effectively ignore racism in American life, justify the current social order, and feel more comfortable with their relatively privileged standing in society (Fryberg, 2010). Most minorities, however, who regularly encounter difficulties due to race, experience colorblind ideologies quite differently. Colorblindness creates a society that denies their negative racial experiences, rejects their cultural heritage, and invalidates their unique perspectives.

Instead of colorblind ideology, she has a better idea:

The alternative to colorblindness is multiculturalism, an ideology that acknowledges, highlights, and celebrates ethnoracial differences. It recognizes that each tradition has something valuable to offer. It is not afraid to see how others have suffered as a result of racial conflict or differences.

By now everyone has heard about Hillary Clinton’s comment about half of her opponent’s supporters falling into a “basket of deplorables” – sexist and racist mostly.

The pushback from her opponent and his surrogates has been hard and unrelenting. But unless we’ve missed it, none of these surrogates or Trump himself have refuted the claim. None of them have said, “no, most of my supporters are not racist at all.”

Because it wouldn’t be true.

Of course it’s political season, and lies are flying fast and furious. But the framing of the counter-attack on Clinton is telling. Trump has been courting racists and alt-right white nationalists since the beginning.

Dana Milbank in the Washington Post says what everyone in the U.S. should already know; that a good percentage – okay, we can quibble about the exact percentage - are bigoted or racist:

In June, the Pew Research Center found that 79 percent of Clinton voters believe the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities is an important issue, while only 42 percent of Trump supporters feel that way. As I wrote previously, earlier Pew research found that Trump supporters were significantly less likely than other Americans (and supporters of other Republican presidential candidates) to think that racial and ethnic diversity improves the United States.

Research by Washington Post pollsters and by University of California at Irvine political scientist Michael Tesler, among others, have found that Trump does best among Americans who express racial animus. Evidence indicates fear that white people are losing ground was the single greatest predictor of support for Trump — more, even, than economic anxiety.

So, okay, maybe deplorable is an loaded term. It might be more accurate to say, “Trump does best among Americans who express racial animus and white people who fear they are losing economic ground, therefore they blame people of color.” It’s a little wordy, though, right?

What we can say for sure is, it’s going to be a very long 53 days until this election is over.

Over ten years ago University of Utah researcher William A. Smith coined the term “racial battle fatigue” while studying how racial “microagressions” marginalized black students at predominately white colleges and universities. Racial Battle Fatigue, he wrote, meant African descent constantly worry, have trouble concentrating, become fatigued, and develop headaches when navigating personal and professional spaces that have historically favored white people.

More recently a series of studies have built on Smith’s findings, with researchers coming to similar conclusions about what has been described as the pitfalls of living while black. ThinkProgress details one of the latest academic works, featured in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, focused on generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) — defined as more than six months of severe worrying and tension.

Researchers examined data from the National Survey of American Life, a study of more than 5,800 American adults -– 60 percent of whom were African American, nearly 25 percent were Afro-Caribbean, and 15 percent were non-Hispanic whites. More than 40 percent of the African Americans surveyed recounted receiving some form of racial discrimination, and nearly 5 percent suffered from GAD. Meanwhile, nearly 39 percent of Afro-Caribbean respondents said they received discrimination, and less than three percent developed GAD.
Whites who suffered from GAD in the study did so because of other forms of discrimination, head researcher Jose Soto, Ph.D. told PscyhCentral.com. For all races, non-racial discrimination counted as a source of GAD. Soto acknowledged that Afro-Caribbean respondents had less of a sensitivity to racial discrimination — perhaps a result of their different history. Even so, Soto said that people of the black diaspora entering unwelcoming environments endure stress that can become mental illness, similar to what soldiers face on the field.
“The results of our study suggest that the notion of racial battle fatigue could be a very real phenomenon that might explain how individuals can go from the experience of racism to the experience of a serious mental health disorder,” said Soto, head investigator at Pennsylvania State University. “While the term is certainly not trying to say that the conditions are exactly what soldiers face on a battlefield, it borrows from the idea that stress is created in chronically unsafe or hostile environments.”

Black people aren’t making it up. And given events like the most recent shooting of a black man, execution-style, by cops, it doesn’t look like this fatigue is likely to let up.

Well, he didn’t say this in so many words, but if you look at his history of comments on the matter, that’s the narrative.

The latest is Trump bashing Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge presiding over two class-action suits against Trump University.

From the Wall Street Journal yesterday:
Mr. Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the litigation given that he was “of Mexican heritage” and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association. Mr. Trump said the background of the judge, who was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants, was relevant because of his campaign stance against illegal immigration and his pledge to seal the southern U.S. border. “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said.

Get that? Curiel is hostile toward Trump because he’s Hispanic and proud of it.

Let’s not overlook the unprecedented event of presidential nominee of a major political party to be attacking a member of the federal judiciary. That’s horrible even without the racial angle.

Now Trump claims Judge Curiel cannot carry out his duties as judge because his parents were born in Mexico. Let’s also consider this irony: Judge Curiel’s father arrived in the United States before Trump’s mother. This claim suggests that Mexican-Americans have inherently divided loyalties and that it is obvious on its face that any Hispanic in the United States would be hostile to Donald Trump. And, by extension, to all white people. That’s the implication isn’t it?

Trump’s campaign has been driven by building white backlash resentment against non-whites – mainly Hispanics and principally Mexican immigrants. It looks like he’s not going to scale back these attacks but instead double down on them: Those people are not us, they’re dangerous, they’re taking our stuff and pulling us down.

It’s going to be an ugly 5 months.