We who are appalled and terrified by the election of Trump have our various preferences for helping to explain the catastrophe–and explaining is about all most of us believe we can do about the situation. In our more pessimistic moods, we wonder whether Mueller’s investigation or “the resistance” will have any effect, and whether the necessary effect–removal from office–will occur in time. With the tacit approval of Congress, the U.S. has delivered the executive branch to insane, White Supremacist authoritarianism.
The locus I isolate to explain Trump’s ghastly rise is White Supremacy. I don’t prefer it to the exclusion of other explanations, but I do think that, without the continuing, intractable presence of White Supremacy in the U.S., there would be no Trump. It is the link between the different classes and genders of white Americans who voted for Trump, it is the cornerstone of the Republicans’ base, and it is something Democrats address ineffectually, at best. And in spite of the rationalizations about the white working class, (for example), some data suggest that racism far outweighed class and economic considerations with regard to the way the vote went. A recent piece in the Nation referenced this data:
As we wait to see what further hell Trump, Bolton, and the Republicans will inflict, we might try further to understand, if not disable or eradicate, White Supremacy–that homicidal, suicidal force that’s been a part of the American colonies and the United States from the get-go. Some titles, then:
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, by Reni Edo-Lodge, Bloomsbury Books. I’m a White man who teaches African American Studies, and I can relate in the sense that there seems little point in trying to educate white Americans who don’t already “get it” about White Supremacy. Too many of them root their identity in it, I often think (and this includes many academics), to make attempts at persuasion anything but a waste of time.
Stamped from the Beginning: the Definitive History of Racist Ideas, by Ibram X. Kendi. Nation Books. A good companion to The History of White People, by Nell Irvin Painter, which with superb scholarship tells the tale of the invention of Whiteness and White Supremacy during, ironically, the Enlightenment, and of how White Supremacy has been perpetuated mercilessly.
White Rage: the Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, by Carol Anderson. Bloomsbury Books USA. If we removed rage and a White Supremacist’s view of the world from Trump’s personality, what would remain?
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, by Richard Rothstein. Liveright.
The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class, by David R. Roediger. Verso.
Good White People:The Problem With Middle-Class White Anti-Racism, by Shannon Sullivan. SUNY Press.