During the election we heard a lot about white rage. The media tried to play it out that non-college educated white people were very angry at the “system”. They said that non-college educated white people were angry that the factories have shut down. They said that non-college educated white people were backing Trump because they believe that he will bring jobs back.
The media was wrong. There is something called white rage. However, don’t kid yourselves, that white rage is more over the diversification of our country’s population than anything else. These people see this diversification as a threat to the country their parents grew up in.
I grew up on the south side of Chicago in a small neighborhood called the East Side. It was a small mill area of the city between the Calumet River, Lake Michigan, and the Indiana State line. It was all white. The neighborhood was made up of people who worked in the steel mills and places like Pittsburg Paint and Inland Coke. They were blue-collar workers who mostly fought in World War II. They were mostly union employees and enjoyed a middle-class life.
However, they were also racists. I often joke with my wife that as I was growing up, the men would return home from the mill. They would have dinner and then take their cooler filled with beer to the front porch and drink most of the night away. When they wanted to talk to a neighbor, they would just shout down the street.
This “talking” was laced with racial slurs. The neighborhood just north of us was already experiencing “white flight” because a few black families moved in. That was something our neighborhood was willing to do anything to stop.
You never saw a “for rent” sign in front of the small apartment buildings. You only got a flat to rent if you knew someone who know someone who had a vacancy. That was the only way you could get to rent a place. That ensured that no “outsiders” meaning blacks could rent an apartment in the neighborhood.
Then in the 1960s, the war against unions began. Steal mills started cutting shifts. They went from 3 shifts to 2 and then to 1. Some started closing down altogether. Instead of modernizing the old mills around the neighborhood, the steel companies just closed down and moved out of town.
The irony was that the neighborhood began to blame the blacks for moving up from Mississippi to take their jobs and not the companies who were just simply closing down. In the 70s the neighborhood began to change. The “old families” some of them in the neighborhood for generations began moving out.
People believe that today, white people have dropped their race rage. They are wrong. I am not talking about the open white supremacists either. I am talking about the average white person all across the nation.
When they correct their children for using offensive racial language, they are really putting on a façade. The racial bias and hatred is still bubbling under the surface. The rage of families leaving their neighborhood because of those “blacks” moving in is still real.
That is what Donald Trump tapped into. It is that rage and the “blame game” that Trump used to his advantage to win the election. It has nothing to do with white rage against the system.
When Barak Obama was elected President in 2008 many people believed we were turning a corner. He took office under the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. After eight years of his administration, we recovered from that collapse and people’s lives began to get better.
Many of the people who supported Trump actually benefitted from the Affordable Car Act by getting insurance they never had. They were better off than they were eight years before.
However, we must also remember that after that election gun purchases went through the roof. It wasn’t white supremacists that spiked the gun purchases, it was common white people from all areas of the country.
One could actually say that when that black family moved into the White House, white flight took place again. Only this time it was from realty. The unabashed racism raised its ugly head again.
For years we have heard the dog whistles from the Republican Party. They have run their campaigns on blaming those “others” for all of the woes of white people in this country. When you hear the slogan “take our country back” what you are hearing is “take our country back from those others”.
I would like to believe that in 2016, we were beyond the old racism of the past. Unfortunately, we are not. We are stuck in that sad race game where someone else is to blame for all of our woes. That is the white rage that Donald Trump tapped into.
And don’t think it is just non-college educated white people with these feelings. I know a lot of college educated white people with the same racism bubbling under the surface.
There are two questions that need to be answered during a Trump Presidency. The first is just how bad will things get under him. The second is what will his supporters do when he doesn’t deliver on all of his promises?
We have to face reality. We are still a nation divided by race. We are still a nation that believes that only white people had a hand in “founding” our country. We are still a nation that believes our problems are caused by those “others” and we have to do something about them.
Until we mature enough to understand that these feelings are very real and begin serious discussion about them, we will continue to be a divided nation. As I have written before we all suffer from prejudice. We all suffer from bigotry. It is our understanding that and working to not let it affect our lives and decisions that help us over come them.
If you really want to understand how Donald Trump actually won the election, simply look inside. You will find your answer. We all bear the blame for this election. We failed to understand the real white rage that led Trump to the White House.
We have lived in a country where one political party wants us to listen to our demons. A party that says they have all the answers and we just need to listen to them and follow them blindly. They will get rid of those “others” and make our lives better. The real unfortunate part of our political situation is that the conservative movement was hijacked by those following our demons.
The fact is that in 2016 we faced two choices. We were either going to continue progressing as a nation or we were going backwards. Unfortunately, 59 million people voted to take us backwards. Now we must find a way to blunt that movement and look forward to 2018.
We will remain a divided country until we recognize our demons and cast them out. We can only hope that this election will wake us up to that fact. Otherwise, we will continue moving backwards and have will continue to grow unchecked.