When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, many assumed a “post-racial” America was upon us. They were fiercely wrong.
People believed that the nation had somehow reconciled its racism by electing a black man into the White House. As it turned out, one man alone could not undo the countless systemic issues that have plagued a country built on slavery.
During Obama’s last year in office, we saw just how deeply wrong the idea of this “post-racial” era was with the rise of the alt-right movement and the racist attacks that have unfolded as a result of Donald Trump’s run and win for president.
Since the start of his campaign, the Republican presidential nominee has rolled out proposals and delivered speeches that came with incredibly offensive messages about America’s most marginalized groups, including black people. White nationalists heard him loud and clear, and have become energized to rebrand white supremacy as a mainstream idea. Behold, the alt-right movement.
The alt-right movement, as described by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is a group of people who subscribe to a far-right ideology “at the core of which is a belief that ‘white identity’ is under attack through policies prioritizing multiculturalism, political correctness and social justice, and must be preserved, usually through white-identified online communities and physical ethno-states.”
Members praise the presidential candidate for creating a space to allow their hateful views to permeate current political discourse. He has provided white supremacists with a safety net. Just a while back theKKK’s newspaper printed a front-page endorsement of Trump, using his campaign slogan as the headline.
However, the irony here is that Trump is guilty of spreading hateful and racist rhetoric himself. Throughout his campaign, Trump has repeatedly disrespected the black community by dismissing the reality of police brutality, condemning the Black Lives Matter movement and believing all African Americans live in crime-infested inner-cities.
He has called Mexicans rapists, taken a tough stance on immigration and has pledged to ban all Muslims, repeatedly implying that they are all terrorists. His campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” is racist in and of itself, and white supremacists are enthusiastic about it because it signals to them that Trump also yearns for a time when being white meant being in control.
One thing is immediately apparent: America has never functioned as a “post-racial” society, and it damn sure isn’t starting now.