How was a young black woman attacked at a Donald Trump rally in 2016?
When Shaun King of New York Daily News posted a news clip of a young black woman being gleefully attacked by a mob at the Donald Trump rally in Louisville, Kentucky this morning, Facebook lost its collective shit. Police did not intervene, nor did a single person in the crowd of Trump supporters. While one old man pushes her through the crowd, others scream at her, shove at her, batter her body as she proudly smiles and tries to appear unfazed by this act of racist violence. No, this cannot be happening, we all seemed to think, not in 2016. But of course it’s happening in 2016; white supremacy never stopped.
Growing up in the United States, tales of white supremacy are told a certain way in public social studies classes. Nazis were beaten by The United States, and the word “Nazi” was never uttered again after the crumble of Hitler’s regime. The KKK was a hate group that existed a long time ago, and did a lot of things that were very, very scary. At some point, they ceased to exist. They stop being mentioned in the curriculum somewhere around the 1960’s, when “racism ended,” and that’s that. They are written into the past, and are nothing to worry about anymore. If you are a student in the United States and you pay enough attention, you’ll eventually realize that supremacist groups much like the KKK and Neo-Nazis are alive and well, sometimes operating under different names, and up until a few months ago, you believed them to be hidden in the deepest recesses of forgotten parts of the country. They existed quietly and hid their identities because being a KKK member at this point in our country’s development went against the level of racism that was deemed “socially acceptable.”
It’s not that white supremacy has grown, it’s been here all along. The only difference now is they’ve been given a mouthpiece, they’ve been giving protection, and they’ve been given encouragement from Donald Trump’s campaign to come out of hiding. Trump’s near sweep during yesterday’s Super Tuesday primaries shows us that supremacist extremism is as healthy as ever. The Republican Party has been accidentally building this monster for years now, especially after Barack Obama took office with their failure to control the Tea Party and racist anti-Obama sentiment. Trump is just the natural next step to the last eight years for the far right. The video of the young woman being attacked and pushed around by a shameless white mob is the physical manifestation of what has been carried out in the form of systematic racism for years.
I pose this question to white Americans, and hold myself accountable as well: Why does it take a video of explicit violence shown to us before we listen to what black Americans have to say? Why are they not given our full support and attention the first time, the first ten times, the first hundreds of times that a grave injustice happens away from a news camera?
It is being asked today, “how do we stop this?” As uncomfortable as it may be for white people, it’s time for us to face racists head on, and confront our own internal racism. It isn’t enough anymore to be pleasant and silent during public protests against white supremacist culture- it’s an ethical must that we voice support, and we voice it loudly. This does not come in the form of talking over black civil rights leaders, but by magnifying their voices. It’s social media, it’s an uncomfortable conversation with a coworker, it’s going to the polls and not just being proud of who you are voting for, but denouncing the bigotry you are voting against. It’s not something we can check off a list and be done with it, as unlearning racism and learning how to be a good ally is ongoing.
Trump is the creation of white complacency to white supremacy. He may not win the general election, but the damage, I’m afraid, has already reached a terrifying level, so come this November when he is defeated by the Democratic candidate, let us not grow comfortable once again.