Donald Trump is a racist. Not a surprise, not news (fake or otherwise) this is a fact. He is also not the first racist to occupy the Oval Office. The troublesome part is that there are so many people with a variety of kinds of power who are willing to just give him a pass on his racism and his fanning the racial flames, because they’ve “got more important things on their mind” or so said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex) recently. But isn’t that how racism has always worked? From compromises in the US Constitution to the tacit acceptance of “separate but equal” by the abolitionist North, or Congress’ inability to pass anti-lynching legislation, to the more recent removal of voting rights protections, the separation of migrant families, the restriction of Muslims and the expulsion of legal immigrants…racialized white culture in the United States has always had “something more important” on its mind than brown folks. And it is clear that that “something more important” is intimately connected with maintaining Laura Ingraham’s “America that we know and love”.
Racism is America’s greatest problem but it is also its foundational premise. Because of this, racism is a problem for those of us who are targets while it is the most powerful tool in the box for those who have power…regardless of racial or ethnic identity. The targets of racism are those of us who refuse to adopt whiteness as the framework our lives. If, however, one is willing to buy into the racist ethic that is built on assumptions of whiteness and privileging proximities to whiteness (through behavior, values, language, etc.), you can succeed wildly.
Racism is not Donald Trump using the word nigger on tape. Racism is not white supremacists marching in the streets. Racism is not the attempt by the Republican party to erase the legacy of the United State’s first black identified President. Racism is not putting brown children in cages separated from their parents in a foreign country. Racism isn’t even referring to other human beings as “vermin”. Racism is looking at all of this, these vile and inhuman actions and words and crimes against humanity and saying you have more important things to worry about.