Readers of my work are aware that for the past two years, I have written regularly for Salon in an unofficial, freelance capacity. I am now a weekend cultural columnist with the publication, where I will contribute essays on the arts, cultural issues, and politics.
In my first essay as weekend columnist, I react to the frightening and demoralizing electoral victory of Donald Trump.
Most national journalists and pundits reside in New York or Washington DC, and therefore, miss the on the ground reality of “soft racism” rampant throughout white America. I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago, and currently live in Northern Indiana. In my region, the powerful presence of racism is unmistakable.
My first weekend column for Salon, “White Flight From Reality,” draws on my own personal experiences and observations – witnessing white flight, constantly overhearing racist remarks, and noticing racial conflict as a consistency – to diagnose much of white America with “soft racism.” Soft racists are not going to burn crosses and tattoo swastikas on their forearms. They will treat their black and Latino coworkers with cordiality. They will wave to the Muslim family in their neighborhood. They will even discipline their children for using racial epithets, but deep down inside, they believe that people of color are inferior, and that the United States of America, by virtue of their whiteness, belongs to them. Often, they will vote accordingly.
By now, I have reviewed the data demonstrating that there was no “white surge” for Donald Trump, who actually received fewer white votes than Mitt Romney. Many clueless and oblivious analysts are using those numbers to argue that racism did not play a critical role in the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. Again, they miss the point. Reality, perhaps, is too painful and ugly for some Americans to acknowledge.
If white America was not full of racism, Donald Trump would have lost in a landslide. A man who called Mexicans “rapists,” advocated for the ban of Muslim immigrants, and amplified every stereotype to diagnose African American life as “hell,” would have had no chance against a brilliant woman who dedicated her life to public service. Just as, if sexism were not viral throughout America, a man who bragged about committing sexual assault could have never challenged the first woman nominee for president.
As I state in the essay, “The best defense available to a Trump voter, among a wide range of pathetic options, is to claim that he or she voted for Trump, despite his disrespect of Hispanics, Muslims, the disabled, African Americans, and women. Tolerance translates to the cold message: ‘Because your suffering and exclusion do not affect me, I’m going to vote for the guy who will cut my taxes, nominate anti-abortion Supreme Court justices, and isn’t a woman who used a private email server.'”