Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The vote for white privilege

America's election of Donald Trump represents a number of things in my mind..... as I shared with anyone Black, White, Republican, Democrat, Conservative or Liberal who cared to listen today, the results were evidence that Americans hate Black People, Latinos, Gays, Female Leaders far more than they love their country.

I say this unapologetically because they made a decision to take the biggest gamble with someone who has zero experience, has never held an elective office, and who has said and done the most despicable things we have ever witnessed in American politics. This apparently was because they couldn't bring themselves to vote for a woman with decades of experience who not only promised to represent but has a track record of representing the most vulnerable members of the American population which includes the so-called White majority who feel left out and is "hurting".  America rejected the candidate that said there is a place for all of you and embraced the candidate who said there's only room for those who are like me - white male and privileged.  In a nutshell, America chose Hate over common decency, pragmatism, optimism, stability.

I also think that fundamentally the election results are a reflection of the sense of entitlement that White America feels - the rhetoric of "I'm hurting so it must be the fault of the Blacks, the Mexicans, the Muslims, the Syrians, the Gays - they are to blame for my factory closing and a new one not being opened in its place". They are to blame for the death of the manufacturing industry despite clear evidence that this industry is dying all over the world. It is the sense of entitlement that prevents White America from taking a long hard look at itself and asking how can I adapt to fit into the modern, digitized, fast-paced world. And it is white privilege and pandering to it that makes politicians promise to bring back long derelict factories and manufacturing jobs rather than providing clear evidence of worldwide trends and providing alternatives for the so-called left behind masses to adapt to the new world we live in and specifically to globalisation.

Today, I lost it and spoke through tears as a colleague - a White Liberal - tried to explain to me that Hillary could have done more to reach out to those who felt disenfranchised, who felt that the economic growth that Obama has achieved against the odds, has not benefitted them. I lost it because I believe that the only way to appease these people - the Trump voters - would have been to tell them that their grievances, their anger, their hurt was all that mattered. Simply repeating her pledge to fight for all Americans, in particular the poorer ones by making the wealthier pay their fair share, was not a strong enough message. Leaning further left than President Obama, was not enough for the White silent majority because in actual fact their rejection of Hillary Clinton and embrace of Donald Trump was never about jobs, or the economy or a rebellion against the establishment. It was a retaliation against a changing America, against a black President - in the words of political commentator Van Jones, it was their "whitelash".  The mere fact of having a Black President, who is undoubtedly one of the most successful presidents this country has seen, was more than their racist selves could handle.  Their sense of entitlement is so strong that they found a champion in a man who embodies all that is wrong with the world. He made a promise to them and no one else and they fell for it hook line and sinker.

But even we give White America the benefit of the doubt and agree that they have been ignored by the Obama administration - suffering in silence, we would be disingenuous if we don't also address the plight of other groups in society that have a lot to complain and lash out about.

Let's start with Black men for instance who have a one in three chance of ending up in prison. Let's process that for one moment - growing up in America, these are the odds that black boys face - if the statistics don't seem realistic to you, then please take a moment to watch Ava Duvernay's documentary, 13th.

Then there's the average college graduate in America, who have been told all they need to do is to work hard - they've done that, four years of an undergraduate degree, followed by a postgraduate degree, unpaid work experience...because they recognise that the world competitive and they have to do all that it takes to set themselves apart. They'e taken out loans and now they face the reality of a job, any job that simply pays them a living wage - their dreams deferred in favour of stability.  They earn a salary that covers their crippling student loan repayments, with just enough left over to live....not plan for a future....just live, one pay cheque at a time.

Then there's the American Muslim, who subscribes to the American dream with such fervour but has decide whether they are willing to openly display their religious beliefs for fear of exclusion or worse, retaliation. Their reality is one of having to jump through hoops to prove their loyalty to the country of their birth or nationality and the resignation to the fact that they will be racially profiled at the airport, and will be blamed every time someone that claims to share their religion commits an atrocity. They will be judged for not doing enough, they will carry the shame of that person, and be accused of not condemning the actions loudly enough.

Let's talk about the so-called middle class for a moment, a phrase which means very little other than a way politicians seek to appease Americans by suggesting those who belong to this group are an example of some kind of success. The reality though is with less and less job stability and greater income disparity, the middle class is constantly struggling to make ends meet and is more often than not, a pay cheque or two away from homelessness.

Last but by no means least, can we please address the elephant in the room - the Native American - the only group that can legitimately ask for their country back - the level of injustice  they face at every stage of their lives is astounding - 1 in 4 live in poverty, they lack access to healthcare and have a lower life expectancy rate. And yet everyone acts as though they don't exist and each year we celebrate taking their country away from them and retell the lies of American history erasing any agency they had in the future of their country.

So White man or woman who is hurting, please take a number and get in line. Not only is gap between rich and poor growing in America, it is growing all over the world. The difference between the USA and other parts of the developed world is that people in other devloped nations can take comfort in the fact they have access to a decent education and free or affordable healthcare - two areas that President Obama made his focus and that your President Trump will single-handedly destroy.  I'm sorry but I refuse to give you the benefit of the doubt when you claim to be justified in rejecting excellence in favour of insanity because you're are hurting. On the one hand you claim to be anti-big government but yet expect the government to fix your situation? What happened to pulling yourself up by your boot straps? Isn't that the same thing White America has been telling the descendents of those it once enslaved for decades, without even the slightest irony? 

The truth is you voted for Trump because you believe that the government is here to serve you and you alone to the complete exclusion of others!  And that is precisely what Trump sold - it is what he represents to the majority of White America! A leader who will fight for them, place their interests ahead not only ignoring others but to the detriment of others. Isn't the adage, God Bless America....and no one else?.

Your vote wasn't a protest vote against the establishment, it wasn't about electing someone who tells it like it is - it was purely and simply about restoring White America to "its rightful place" - a place that has no room for anyone that looks different or thinks differently.

My only hope is that Trump will show you that, like you, he  is a selfish, shallow racist-misogynist who cares about no one but himself!

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