As I watched the media rightfully call out Donald Trump for the press conference supposedly about infrastructure spending, that instead, he used to defend white nationalists, I could not help but get a pit in my stomach. Why; because one part of his message partially resonated with the "carnal-uneducated-portion" of my being as a black man.
It is essential that Americans understand that Trump weaving an intricate path that combines truth, lies, distortions, and economic realities could work.
There are some who believe that Trump is the result of the economic angst of the white working class. Others believe that he just allows those with strong racist inclinations to come out of the light. Others believe it was a f$ck-you to the entire political establishment. That debate, however, should be over. Why, because you are all right. It is all of the above.
The problem is that while at this point the sum of all those still does not make up the majority of the country, it likely still makes up an electoral majority. My contrarian thinking tells me that we are at a tipping point. And Trump said something in his press conference that while those educated in history can discount; it is not so for the vast majority of Americans. I think the following statement he made is deeper than many are willing to accept.
"George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner?" Trump said. "Will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson. What do you think about Thomas Jefferson? Do you like him? Are we going to take down the statue? Because he was a major slave owner. So you know what? It's fine. You are changing history. You are changing culture."
The message was not said solely for white nationalists or white supremacists to hear. It was meant to plant a seed in white people overall. He is telling them that they are coming for the Confederate heroes now and that the founders of our nation who had severe immoral flaws as well would be next. He wants to hit the core of what many believe is the essence of being a white American.
But Trump's intent was also to plant a seed in the psyche of those oppressed by the founders and subsequent leaders of the country, blacks, Native Americans, Chinese, etc. He is inciting the belief in the recesses of the minds of these groups to equate these Confederate traitors with the founders. After all, while they condemned the Confederates, were the Union, not just a less vile reflection? His hope is that these groups would progressively get more aggressive in destroying symbols of Americana and thus incite a reaction from white America as they are made to have a whiff of historical discomfort.
Sadly, race, a social construct with no biological, existential, or intellectual significance continues to be used to create disruptions to consolidate power by a minority. Unfortunately, in the process, it is re-injuring an unclosed wound.
For those in the know, for those who voted for Trump for other-than-racist reasons, it is time for you to speak up. It is time for you to address your brethren before we fall off the cliff. Remind folks that while we cannot do anything about the past, we are the ones in control of the future. Explain that animating ethnic angst is a power play. Most importantly, remember that social, criminal, economic, and racial justice is good not just for the oppressed but us all.
A message to our Trump voting friends
Also published on Medium.