It is hard to believe that both of these ideas are on my mind at the same time. It is hard to acknowledge, but I had thought that our country and its awareness were much further along regarding racial relations – but clearly it is not. I also have to admit that I was probably able to think this because of my position in this culture as a white male who possesses an undeniable privilege that allows that kind of thinking.
I write to the white folks who voted for Trump or did not vote at all in the presidential election. You have allowed a President elect with white nationalist sympathies to take office through your active vote or your lack of voting. You now own this. Actually, we all own the present situation and now it is time to do something about it. I want to propose a few things that we can all do, but first I want to briefly look at the white nationalism that has been unleashed. Three names come to mind:
– Steve Bannon of Breitbart News. He claims to represent the alt right (let’s do away with that euphuism) – it is really white nationalism. Trump selected him as a White House advisor.
– Jeff Sessions – an Alabama senator selected as Trump’s Attorney General. This is a man whose racial views prevented him from being named a U.S. judge , but now he is ready to serve as A.G. Seriously?
– Richard Spencer – Director of the National Policy Institute which is known for its white nationalist fervor. Spencer has been appearing on lots of news shows lately announcing his love of Donald Trump. Here is what he has to say – “What I want is a safe space for Europeans.” Spencer believes he will easily entice religious conservatives into white nationalism because he states “there’s not a single intelligent person in that entire world.” Lovely person, isn’t he? Some folks have posted some of his vile thoughts on social media. It is time for those folks to either admit to their own white nationalism or rebuke Spencer’s ideas publicly.
It is time to recognize that Trump is morally and ethically bankrupt and that he intends to trample on civil and human rights that were decades in the making.
It is time to take action and here are a few suggestions:
- Support groups such as Southern Poverty Law Center, NAACP, Planned Parenthood, American Friends Service Committee , and the protest at Standing Rock to name just a few with financial and volunteer efforts
- Call/Write Congressmen. Here in Pa. that means Senator Toomey and tell him to take a principled stand on Jeff Sessions nomination. Toomey said that he would represent all of us and now it is time for him to prove it. I don’t have a lot of hope for this since he voted for Trump at 7:45 PM on election eve so that he would not have to answer for his vote. Toomey is not exactly a profile in courage. Watch his votes in the Senate and continue to contact him.
- Educate yourself. Here are three books that you may consider reading – “Walking with the Wind” by John Lewis, “The Alchemy of Race and Rights” by Patricia Williams, and “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander. Read deeply instead of reading the vitriol of Breitbart News or Richard Spencer.
- Take to the streets. Sadly there will be a lot of opportunity to do this. Marches are already being planned here in Philadelphia and possibly Washington D.C. for the day after inauguration day.
- Challenge racism and misogyny as you encounter it in everyday conversation. It may be uncomfortable but it is necessary. Write letters to the editor of your local paper, let coworkers and friends know that it is not acceptable to remain silent in the deluge of racial animus that we are about to encounter.
- Maintain hope. The struggle for civil rights and a fair and equitable society goes on and although it may not happen in my lifetime, I believe it will inevitably happen. Join and become part of that struggle.