I think one thing we can all agree upon is that it feels like racial tensions are alive and well throughout the United States. While some believed electing a black president would represent closing a painful portion of our county’s past, I think many saw his election as the opportunity to expose how deep and divided we truly are.
To the surprise of many, electing the first black president would not prove we were no longer a racist country. To the contrary, it would act as the catalyst for exposing how insidiously racist we really were. His election would not mean that racial injustice was laid to rest. Rather, it would open an improperly healed wound and the subsequent infection of “micro-aggression” that is still rampant in our society today.
This “subconscious bigotry” extends not just to blacks, but to all minority groups (e.g., Hispanics, Muslims, LQBTQ, women, etc.). How else could one possibly explain the statistical disparity we see in our society? Moreover, the clearest evidence of bigotry perpetuating itself in our society is the election of Donald Trump. When one sees such evil being elevated to the highest positions in our nation, it is the moral obligation of every citizen who desires our country to be free of hate and oppression, to express their opposition by any means possible.
If my writing the above paragraph is a surprise to you, then you do not understand the mindset of the thousands of people who are protesting the presidential election. I want every reader to recognize that the above mindset is just that — a mindset. It defines how many view our country and their understanding of social reality. It is not something you can rationally argue against or refute with statistics.
I find that deep-seated views like these are removed through prayer and revolutionary encounters with those who shatter presuppositions that, at their heart, are truly based on stereotypes. While clearly proclaiming the evil in our society and in others who would disagree with them, they seem blind to the clear hatred that is being harbored in their own hearts.
In contrast, I was encouraged to hear President Obama and Hillary Clinton implore our nation to give President-elect Trump a chance. However, many of their supporters, those with the above mindset, have not heeded their advice. Instead, they protest by the thousands, declaring that they are fearful and angry as to what a Trump administration will bring for our nation. They claim he projects hatred and oppression, and that they fear for the future of our country.
However, Donald Trump has not done anything, as it pertains to policy, to warrant such fears. So where is this widespread fear and panic coming from? Could it be that political pundits who characterized Donald Trump as the next Adolf Hitler (literally) are the ones who instilled and enflamed such beliefs? For, how could someone who has lived much of his life in the heart of Manhattan not understand the rich diversity of our nation?
It is more logical to posit that the extreme rhetoric and euphemisms against Donald Trump and his administration are political projections of politicians and pundits who were trying to demonize the opposition for their side to win. Now that they have lost the election, they return to their comfortable lives, but the societal ramifications of their rhetoric are deleterious.
They leave behind an angry and reactionary public that spout hate against those who they think hate them. They use bullying-tactics in opposition to the one who they claim is a bully. And they project their mindset about this country onto a man, and anyone who supports him, as justification for their actions.
Nevertheless, even as I was encouraged by President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s speeches after the election, I was most encouraged by Donald Trump’s acceptance speech. The President-elect cut through the hype during his speech and he humbly shared that winning an election meant nothing if he wasn’t going to do the hard work of making America great again for all Americans.
To this, I say, “Amen!” As a nation we truly have to get past all the talk and projections of hate and see what the President-elect does and whether or not his actions truly will help our families and our country.
[Bonnie B. Willis is co-founder of The Willis Group, LLC, a Learning, Development, and Life Coaching company here in Fayette County and lives in Fayetteville with her husband and their five children.]