Before my friend answered my questions she told me that she grew up in Florida. Her last name was definitely German, but her mother was born and raised in Alabama, her father in Missouri. She attended Florida public schools where she had African American classmates. She said she did not notice overt racially hostile language in her house, although her sister could play with the black neighbor at her house but her mom bowed to neighborhood pressure and did not allow the black child to come to their house and play. On her high school field trip she shared a room with three black girls. After college she went to Jamaica and started to like Reggae music and considered moving there but one uncle reminded her that the people there were dark skinned. She lived and worked in Argentina and also in Germany where there were elements of racism toward dark skinned people. Her American places of employment were mostly white with few black coworkers, but several foreign coworkers. Her political leanings are definitely more liberal than those of her parents. She had no answers for what white people want and so I dug in asking her if white people expected other racial groups to return to some type of deferential subservience as if whites are their new masters? I asked if whites now want a return to the years of Jim Crow America where blacks, Jews, Catholics, Hispanics, women and all other so-called minority groups are second-class citizens? I asked if this is what Trump supporters really want—a “new society” that reflects white notions of white superiority?
As our trip progressed into Pueblo County, Colorado I noticed several Trump/Pence signs alongside the freeway just inside barbed wire fences– just below American flags. She wondered about flag etiquette having it fly day and night in all sorts of weather. It was on private property so who would complain. We passed through Colorado Springs and finally into Denver where she unloaded her U-haul and I made plans to visit friends I had not seen in years. The next day these friends and I met over lunch and naturally the election results came up. My friend’s daughter is the principal of a Denver middle school. She told me that her daughter, a senior at a Denver high school, was recently called the “N” word by group of white boys flying a confederate flag at a gas station. She said that there have been several instances in Denver and other parts of Colorado of Trump inspired bullying and racism in schools. She said that for the first time her 15-year old son is wondering what all this Trump support really means.
While we were having lunch the friends asked about Amarillo where they lived back in the 1960s. I said, about the same except that Amarillo has a black chief of police from Plano and an interim black city manager. She seemed surprised recalling that when they lived here in the 1960s that black men especially could aspire no higher than working for the city sanitation department picking up trash. She then turned to her daughter, the high school principal, and said, “Now do you see why we left Amarillo—we had to make a better future for you.” Their other son graduated from Stanford in computer engineering and now has a franchise of advanced math private schools. The other son followed his passion for creativity having choreographed several Super Bowl half time shows. They became quite wealthy as a direct result of their decision to leave Amarillo to make a better life for themselves and their black children. But what was not said during our conversation was Colorado’s own history as “Ku Klux Klan Country.” Back in 1920s, Colorado promoted itself as “100 percent Americanism,” meaning that it targeted African Americans, Jews, and Roman Catholic immigrants for vile racist attacks. Does this theme sound familiar to the recent election?
The daughter and I sat at the restaurant and discussed what Trump’s win means for African Americans. She wondered if it means that black and brown Americans must now seek protection and safety not only from hostile neighbors but also a hostile government under a Trump administration. I told her that I had a longer view of history than she did and that I believe that Trump harbors deep white supremacy ideologies. I believe that Trump’s appointment of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General and Steven Bannon as “chief strategist” sends a very hard core white nationalist’s message to America about the future of race relations in this country. Steve Bannon is Harvard educated, but his role will be to advise Trump on how to act in ways that are harmful in a benignly neglectful way to certain citizens of this country. I believe that Bannon’s role as a Harvard educated elite will be to develop strategies that will help Trump to hide pernicious evil behind a cloth of obfuscation and deceit. Trump needs such a man to continue to deploy the type of duplicity, fake news tactics that he used to win enough electoral votes to become president elect. I told her that my concerns is that Americans have become so anti-intellectual that they will become zombies to mind control by a demagogue like Trump who knows how to play to the passions of the masses—against their own interest. He used this strategy well throughout his campaign and has no reason to act otherwise than to continue to stay in the campaign stump mode to keep the people enthralled by his rhetoric. I told her that my fear is that Trump, more than any other person, has a special talent to make truth a lie, and a lie the truth and that this is the danger that lies ahead for Americans.
Part III continues
Copyright 2016 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.