Monday, June 6, 2016

The Uncle Mike Complex: Donald Trump's Amerikkka and the New Faces of Racism

"Maybe I should start meditating." 

I lamented to my husband and I collapsed into bed after having a "discussion" with some Donald Trump supporters on a mutual friend's facebook page. I was worked up, outraged, anxious, sad, and frustrated with myself that I let strangers get to me. I was successfully trolled and fell prey to some serious "gaslighting" by someone who said that her nephew thought Muhammad Ali was a terrorist when they heard of his passing and this person followed that up with "LOL". Like this somehow funny?

I was very affected by that comment. Ali was a great American and stood up for his people in a time when that was a difficult to thing to do. He lost out on three years of his career for his public protest of the Vietnam war which he felt was unjust. I made the connection that since there is this insidious new "white power" movement created and perpetuated by Donald Trump's Amerikkka; and it is tragic that a child would think that Muhammad Ali was a terrorist because part of the conservative narrative is painting all Muslims as such. It is gut wrenching to me that a peer of my own children is walking around thinking that Muhammad Ali is just some terrorist that died. I made this point and of course it fell on deaf ears. The backlash when you are a person of color and you question the racism that you see more clearly because you have lived it can be hard to take. I was called a bully, a racist, mean, ignorant, and told that I don't matter. Another person said that Ali was a "fucking coward and good riddance", referring to his not wanting to go to Vietnam and his comments on taking power back from the white American majority that built their privilege on the backs of minorities. To top the whole thing off these people brought up the Washington football team and their racial slur mascot as a slap in my face.

The whole thing left me with an awful taste in my mouth. Lately I have been having a few of these online exchanges a week it seems and instead of draining my energy by responding individually to people who are not listening my husband had the brilliant suggestion that I turned that angst into reflection and action by blogging about it. He's a smart guy.

I am looking for a solution for my fear and depression about the current state of affairs. Race relations right now are at a tension that I have not seen in quite some time. However, it's not being carried out (for the most part anyway) in noisy violent riots or setting cars on fire or any other overt signs of trouble and chaos. This racism is creeping up on us like a plague. It used to be Uncle Mike had too much to drink at Thanksgiving and got on his rants about "niggers", "spics", "redskins", "towel heads" or "chinks" and mostly everyone gets briefly uncomfortable but doesn't take him to task because he's old and set in his ways and isn't really racist just old fashioned. We protect people like Uncle Mike because they have a certain ballsiness about them that we like. They go against the grain. They speak their mind because they are a red blooded American who believes in freedoms that their fore fathers fought for and they know their rights to vent about "lazy niggers", "sand niggers", and "drunk Indians" and their rap music, camels, and casinos. (Uncle Mike probably had a black doctor for his heart surgery and a Muslim anesthesiologist and cheers for the Cleveland Indians.)

Just an old man speaking his mind, right? He can go back to his house and sober up and listen to Howie Carr and feel hatred all by himself until next time, right? Plus he used to be friends with someone who knew a black guy so he can't be racist, right?

But what about the 12 year old Nephew that listens to this and shoots his black classmates 5 years later because they kept taking his girlfriends? What about the 22 year old granddaughter that calls the cops on a family of Muslims buying toilet paper in front of her in the grocery store just because she knows they must be dangerous? What if one of those cops has their own Uncle Mike and he decides to shoot the Muslim wife because taking one out at at time is good for the whole country and he knows he can get away with it? What about Uncle Mike's younger brother who feels the same way he does and suddenly has the courage to fire all of his minority employees because fuck those equal opportunity laws they can't tell him what to do?

I bet Dylann Roof had an Uncle Mike. 

There are literally hundreds of potential situations that ripple from the Uncle Mike problem. Racism has consequences, many of which are terrifying for those of us at the receiving end.

We had reached a time in our country that these Uncle Mikes were scattered about and pretty much silenced on a larger scale by social progression. They could spout off but there was enough reason in the world to temper the ill effects of their racist and hateful agendas and rhetoric. The Uncle Mikes don't do much but they talk a lot and we have been able to move forward as a society to a time that we can make positive changes to the racial injustices and inequalities. We elected a black president, we are mounting a huge fight against racist sports mascots, we are accepting the many cultures that call our country home and make it a landscape full of color and contrast.

Then this election cycle started.

And Uncle Mike is running for President as the nominee of the Republican party.

Donald Trump believes that Mexicans are rapists. That Muslims are terrorists. That Native Americans are drunks and crooks. He wants to build a wall to keep people out (interesting side note, if Native Americans had adopted this immigration reform Donald Trump would not even be American). Not only does he believe these things he preaches them from a pulpit of ignorance and hate. And they reach the hearts and minds of the newest group of American racist:

Uncle Mike's Poor White People.

I don't call them poor in the sense of poverty. I call them poor because they perceive themselves as the victims of class and social warfare based on their race. If you tell them this they call you a racist. However let's go over what racism actually is:

Racism = Prejudice + Power

As a person of color I can have prejudice about anything I want. However based on the history of the country, oppression of minorities through genocidal warfare and public policy, allocation of resources favoring whites,...I cannot have the impact of being racist. White people in America have flourished because they are the conquerors and their immigrant ancestors stole this country. We are not asking for an apology but we all need to exist within our own realities. Acknowledge your place in the system and we can all work on this together. Minorities are not asking for anything special, just equality to get on the same footing finally.

Uncle Mike's Poor White People are threatened by minorities having a voice after being silenced for so long by colonialism and institutionalized oppression that followed. They don't think the Native American holocaust was a big deal. They gloss over the slavery of African Americans. But they can steal Native American cultural symbols for their sports teams and they can shake their asses to a Beyonce song. They hate political correctness and think we are so annoying when we don't want to be called "Redskins" but they think that Disney's Pocahontas is a great educational tool for their kids. They think black people should "get over it" that the police can get away with murdering their teenagers but they love "Dabbing".

Now these sad, troubled, hateful people have an Uncle Mike in their corner. On the news every day. Sarah Palin is screaming incoherently and everyone wants to make Amerikkka "great again".

Swap out "great" for "white" and that is the real message. We can't sugar coat it anymore. These people hate us and want us gone. And it terrifies me.

I don't know what the answer is but I make a plea to you here to not elect this man that will lead us to war around the world and in our own streets. It is already happening. Uncle Mike has nothing to offer anyone, let's not make him the leader of the free world.