On the first of the month, Donald Trump held a breakfast and “get-together” to celebrate Black History Month in the White House. The video below is from that meeting. My comments on the video will make the most sense if you watch the video first.
While I recognize that this was just the first day of Black History Month and there is (hopefully) more celebrating and conversations to come, I am saddened with the way that Trump started off. Not only was he reading from a script with the most basic information about Black History, but within the first 60 seconds of the meeting he begins talking about false racist accusations against him and tries to clear his name. It actually happens many times throughout the meeting that the subject is changed to something that has to do with him and while I am not sure of the exact intentions of this meeting, I do not think that we need to be taking that much time to talk about Mr. Trump (or rather him taking that much time to talk about himself). It comes off as if he is doing this all for the press or for his image. It does not feel genuine in my opinion.
Another thing that Trump fails to do in the introduction is say the words “race” or “racism” or “systemic racism” (but I wasn’t expecting that last one), which I feel is extremely problematic as the quote that I have been using from Joe Feagin’s Racist America basically states that, “Structures of domination shape everyday existence, but an insightful understanding of these structures and their recurring contradictions can assist people in forcefully resisting racial oppression.” He instead says that he wants to better schools, create more jobs and better wages, and safer communities. All great things, but why is this problem a problem in the first place? Name the problem, Mr. President!
While Feagin’s remarks and my statement may feel unrelated to Trump’s meeting or Black History Month in general, I firmly believe they are related. If we cannot address or even name the major problems we are having, how can we begin to fix them? While potentially unintentional, it seemed as if he is trying to cover up or talk around the greater issue of systemic racism in our country. We cannot “resist racial oppression” if we cannot name that it is there and as we move on in his presidency, I would like to dig deeper into why he is doing this and where his motivations lie.
Prior to reading Joe Feagin‘s Racist America and enrolling in this course, race for me felt inherently linked with emotion. I knew, from experience, what it felt like to be a Black woman. I knew from my grandparents about my enslaved ancestors. I knew from my parents about how to converse with White people who could not comprehend how their privilege still functioned today. The one thing that had always been difficult for me to weave together was the connection between each of these events. Continue reading
I question what divides truth from belief. In the undertones of both words at least, I find a distinct difference. When one uses a word like truth, the connotation of discussion is understood. It is supposedly based in fact and lived experiences, and therefore it is given integrity and is far less contestable. Belief, on the other hand, does not carry this weight. Less contestable, one is entitled to their belief(s). It seems to me that this is the difference between being white or being a person of color in this country. Whites have the choice to believe or not to believe in racism. If they do believe in it, then they get to decide how far-reaching it is, where it comes into play not only in their own lives, but in the lives of oppressed people of color.
Reading about injustice of any nature will invariably make you mad. It would be fair that this is in some ways the point. Reading Joe Feagan’s Racist America has made me angry. Racism stirs my emotions for sure. I can’t seem to push this anger in any one direction. The omnipresent, ever-changing nature of racism makes it nearly impossible to direct this energy. It’s eternally frustrating. I want to pin racism down and punch it until its head becomes the consistency of pulpy orange juice. Of course, this is impossible. So, who takes the blame? All those who originally manifested racist viewpoints are dead. Not to say that people don’t actively perpetuate these issues today and have for the last four hundred years of history on this continent. Who can I turn towards to throw my rhetoric at and all my will power towards? I think this quest for a physical manifestation from which all racism stems from is precisely what gets in my way. Racism is everywhere winding its way into almost all interactions. So, I suppose the next question is, is racism the root or result of an idea? By “fighting” racism are we simply treating the symptoms and not going after the disease. Is there even one root cause of racism? All these questions persist moving into the second week. I hope to at least bring some answers.
I wrote this as a response to a friend of mine’s post. Since the Inauguration, I’ve been quite unsettled. I used as backing some the material from the readings as well as conversations I’ve had with my mentor, Mauricio. Continue reading