Last night, Donald Trump won a political primary. He didn’t win a primary in the south or the heartland either. Donald Trump won a political primary in New Hampshire – just a stone’s throw from where America’s revolutionary roots can be traced. In a state whose credo is “Live Free or Die”, a brash, unapologetic bigot, who will attack and oppress anyone who is weaker than him, was chosen as the best candidate to represent the Republican Party. For weeks the political pundits have claimed that Trump has “no chance in a general election,” I refuse to dismiss him that easily anymore. Why? Because his brand of bigoted venom and political “honesty” has stirred an inner aggressiveness inside of so many Americans (almost all white), that I simply didn’t know existed at these levels. I had no idea that sooo many Americans hold this much bigotry and hatred inside of them.
A couple weeks back, while preparing for the Super Bowl, Cam Newton expressed his rationale for why the media and so many others, hated his demonstrative personality. He implied that many people simply didn’t like seeing a big, African-American man doing the things he was doing. Not only was he winning, not only was he dancing and showboating, but he was doing it in a way that many felt showed his “blackness”. And, while, the majority of people on social media lashed back at Cam, claiming he unfairly played the “race card,” I can tell you that I don’t think he was wrong.
Much of White America simply does not like seeing such an overt celebration of success by a black man. They may consciously or sub-consciously shroud their comments with the “I just don’t like show-boating” defense, but that’s not entirely the truth and they know it. Donald Trump is the ultimate political showboat, and not in a fun way, yet he is the leading republican candidate by a large margin (at the moment at least). Hmmm.
Some people will also claim Cam’s inability to properly handle his post-game presser as proof that it’s not about race, it’s about his immaturity. While that may also be true (in my opinion he absolutely needs to grow up), that doesn’t discount that many people simply reacted very differently to him, from the beginning, than they have to other demonstrative white QBs like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. The fact is, a good portion of White America are just scared by a young, outspoken person of color. To further this point, let’s take quick note of the #boycottbeyonce that begin trending on twitter over the weekend.
On Sunday, Beyoncé released her new “politically charged” song/video “Formation” and then, dressed in “Black Panther”-ish costumers, performed it at half time of Super Bowl 50. In the minutes, hours and days since, people have taken to social media to proclaim Queen B as a racist, and to shun the NFL for allowing such an anti-police message to be “spewed” during the half-time performance.
Let’s be clear about something, just like #blacklivesmatter is not an anti-police movement, “Formation” is not an anti-police or anti-white song/video – it’s a pro black song/video. There’s a difference. It’s an empowering celebration of being a southern black woman and of being black in general. It’s about being proud of your “afros” and “negro noses”. You know, those things that Black Americans were made to feel ashamed of by white people for years?
I’ll be the first to admit that there is some powerful imagery in her video that draws attention to important social issues like political injustice, and southern black poverty. But, there is no semblance of a call to arms against white people or police. Unfortunately, our country has a tendancy to make the false correlation between being “pro” one thing and being “anti” something else. Being “pro” chocolate ice cream doesn’t mean, I’m “anti” vanilla. Yet, a small faction of White America, insecurely and ignorantly took this pro-black message, as a stance against them. The people pushing #boycottbeyonce didn’t want to hear or see that. They didn’t want Bey to use her platform for social change – they just wanted the pretty black woman to dance for them. Yea I said it.
Listen, I’m by no means saying that all of America is racist. It would be irresponsible of me to imply that. However, their is a growing undercurrent of racism that is coming to the surface in this country that should be of massive concern… to everyone. Unfortunately, most of America prefers to treat social problems with blinders. We don’t like admitting that there is a problem, because we’re afraid that means we might have to admit to being wrong ourselves. It’s too hard, and too personal to admit that we’re wrong. I used to believe that, deep down, most Americans knew our country had social and racial problems (and other issues like gun violence, and financial inequities), but were either too fearful or too motivated by self-interest to admit those things publicly. Maybe I was an optimist, but I truly believed that; only I don’t any more. Which is why the win by Donald Trump last night was so demoralizing.
As a New Yorker, I used to have the admittedly snobbish view that the north east was more educated, more cultured and therefore more tolerant and rational. Not to say that the rest of the country was ignorant, but just that the north east was more progressive. Unfortunately, Trump’s primary win in New Hampshire has made me truly doubt that. If he can win in “progressive north east”, on a platform that seems to consist mainly of arrogance, aggression and bigotry – then he can win almost anywhere. Why? Because it seems that my hopeful view on most of America does not ring true. It means that most of America doesn’t just publicly deny that we have racial and social problems, it means they feel that way privately as well. And if so many people can willingly cast a vote in private for a man like Trump, then it is hard to deny the truth to the racial undertones of the public cries against people like Cam, Beyoncé and others. If Trump’s first primary win is any indicaton of America’s true colors, then we can have little hope for social change in the near future.
ps – if you can’t admit that Nola bounce beat in “Formation” is insane, then you probably hated this post.