Whitelash-Not Exactly-Maybe Not Even Really


Editor: Vladimir Bajic | Tactical Investor


The debate over whether racism made Donald Trump president is forcing educated America to grapple with something we are taught is inapplicable when it comes to racism: degree. Typically, the closest we come to acknowledge that racism is not a starkly binary matter is to say that racism “plays a part” in, for example, how whites view Barack Obama — but only meaning “the main part,” and the only one worthy of extended discussion.

But that kind of thinking doesn’t work this time, and a failure to acknowledge it will “play a part” in making catastrophes like this election keep happening. Make no mistake; it was a catastrophe indeed. Donald Trump is an incurious, ignorant, mean-spirited, impulsive person, whose blithe, ugly embrace of sexist and racist rhetoric has established a new, adventurous attitude among those who share his troglodytic views on human groups. I share the feeling of many that his election just couldn’t have been quite real, that just possibly, and hopefully, we fell into some kind of realm behind the looking glass or are having a bad dream. I remain numb.

And yet — yes, and yet — it won’t do to allow a mental shorthand that the people who voted for this man are a bunch of racists, à la pieces like this one, titled “Farewell, America,” by the writer Neal Gabler. “Who knew,” Gabler writes breathlessly, “that so many tens of millions of white Americans were thinking unconscionable things about their fellow Americans?” Full Story


Whitelash or Hogwash

In 1976, I took about 30 white working guys who’d never been to college to hear James Baldwin speak at Harvard. The experience launched me on an odyssey whose many twists and turns have given me a few insights into how racism has and hasn’t figured in such men’s support for Trump 40 years later.

It all began when, as a Harvard graduate student, I read aloud the following passage from Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time to the young and middle-aged white working men who were taking my sociology class at the Veterans’ Division of Newbury Junior College:

One watched the lives [white people] led and the excuses they gave themselves, and if a white man was really in trouble, it was to the Negro’s door that he came…The Negro came to the white man for five dollars or a letter to the judge; the white man came to the Negro for love. But he was not often able to give what he came seeking; he had too much to lose. And the Negro knew this. When one knows this about a man, it is impossible for one to hate him, but unless he becomes a man—becomes equal—it is also impossible to love him. Ultimately, one tends to avoid him… Full Story

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