I debated with myself for over a week before writing this column. I am caught between “moving on” after the 2016 presidential election versus coming to terms with some of the toxic fallout that might be in store for many Americans. I will err on the side of posting my concerns in this 3-part column.
Before the election, a handful of Americans said that if Trump were elected that they would leave the country. Closer to home, namely Amarillo, one friend said that if Trump won that she would move to Canada or Australia. She definitely said that she would not live in Amarillo if he won. This past week she packed her U-Haul and move to Colorado. She asked me to ride alone with her because she needed someone to keep her awake pulling a 16 foot U-Haul and her car, plus two cat carriers inside the cab. I needed a short vacation, but also, after the election had started to feel a sense of “unease” in Red State Texas and, even more red, Potter and Randall counties. After the election I also started to feel that I needed to explore moving somewhere away from Amarillo and Texas.
The trip took us straight up 287 North through Dumas, Dalhart, Clayton, New Mexico, over Raton Pass, into Pueblo, through Colorado Springs and into Denver. The above picture was taken after we crossed Raton Pass. The 8-hour trip was the perfect opportunity for me to talk about the recent election with someone who probably had a different perspective—a white female. Our chit chat, and my occasional reminder for her to slow down, turned to serious discussion when we reached Dalhart. It was there that we slowed down to drive through major highway construction where all the workers we saw doing the work were Hispanic. And so I asked her what she thought would happen if Trump began using his “deportation forces” to remove 11 million illegal immigrants? She responded, “Who’s going to pick tomatoes in California and do all the hard labor that white people are not willing to do?”
Just on the other side of Dalhart she noticed cotton fields and commented about all the cotton left behind on the stalks. I then told her my background having spent some years back in the late 1950s and early 60s in Shamrock, Texas pulling cotton. I told her that we picked cotton by hand and would have cleaned those stalks, whereas mechanical cotton pickers can’t reach the stalks planted too close to barbed wire fences. I told her that my grandparents, who helped raise me, were sharecroppers in Navarro County, down hear Corsicana and that they lived their entire lives as “tillers of the soil.” I told her about dirt poor living where my grandparents worked day in and day out, year in and year out, chopping cotton, picking cotton, picking corn, all manner of hard labor, and that they died owning nothing. For a long time she listened as I talked about my own life of growing up poor in Texas, going to poor segregated schools, going to the back door of eating establishments, and watching everyone I knew during my childhood lived hand to mouth, dirt poor, raking and scraping to make a living. I told her that for all the talk about destroying ISIS and ISIL in the Middle East that African Americans have lived under a system of racism and oppression that was not too different from the ideology of ISIS—only in degree. ISIS uses beheadings, we were lynched and burned alive. ISIS has invaded and uprooted citizens because of religious ideology, we were uprooted and chased off because of a racial superiority ideology. Both were hate filled ideologies that led to man’s inhumanity toward innocent citizens.
As we headed to Clayton I told her to look out at the far expanse of land as far as the eye could see. I asked her if she knew that years ago when Texas was practically giving land away to new homesteaders and that “only white men need apply.” I asked her to just imagine all the land wealth that has been created and passed down through the many generations of white families and how this now accounts in part for the huge net worth disparity of $120,000 for white families and $11,000 for black families. I told her that she could take any sector of the American economy and trace it back to the founding of this country and she would find the same type of exclusion from wealth for black Americans. I then said this, if you look at America from the top down– private industry and government, white people own it and run it all. They run the major corporations and they are the governors of every state, the legislators of every state, the mayors of almost city and hamlet, the heads of every state and local agency of every state and every town, even down to the meter readers. White people have the top jobs in private industry and government, national, state, and local, everywhere in America. Then I asked her this, “What do white people now want? “ Before she could respond I followed up with this question, “What do white people want from other racial groups in this country?” And finally I asked, what does the overwhelming white support for Donald Trump mean for America?
Part II follows:
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.