Why Donald Trump isn't the problem
Views 54 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 10 - 4 - 2017 | By: Vanessa Acain
Ever since Donald Trump took office, the nation has been in an uproar. With today marking his 240th day in office, Trump’s approval rate has decreased to just 38.8 percent, says FiveThirtyEight.com. For months on end, Trump’s name has been the headline of articles highlighting racism and discrimination. For this reason, many have named him as the embodiment of America’s racism. The Ku Klux Klan has officially endorsed Trump’s presidency. We all remember the numerous examples of offensive rhetoric during his campaign. There’s also the more recent tragedy in Charlottesville, where a day marked by one of the largest white supremacist demonstrations in decades ended in an act that has been described as one of domestic terrorism, resulting in 19 injuries and the death of Heather Heyer. It’s hardly surprising that Trump is framed as the poster child for racism in America. But is he really the reason for the racist outbreaks in the nation? I believe he is simply a scapegoat for America’s long history of systematized racism.
Understandably, this is a provocative claim, but racism is a deep-seated problem that has gone far too long without being addressed. As psychologist Beverly Tanner Tatum wrote in her book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, racism is still a substantial issue in our nation. According to Tatum, an individual is either passively or actively participating in institutionalized racism if that individual is not actively working against it. For example, in the context of Charlottesville, the white supremacists actively participated while the protesters fought against it. On the other hand, passive racism occurs when an individual, knowingly or not, ignores the racism ingrained in the structure of society. Being unaware is not an excuse. News stories cover hundreds of incidents and issues regarding race everywhere. Passive racism is viewed as acceptable simply because it is not overtly racist. It is precisely this reasoning that perpetuates systemic racism in various forms such as microaggressions (the reinforcement of racial stereotypes in comments and jokes), Eurocentric education, the war on drugs, cultural appropriation, and the denial of white privilege. Ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away.
The fact of the matter is, Trump did not make America racist. “Trump’s America” was every other president’s America. Trump is just one of the many morally reprehensible individuals who actively speak ignorant, hurtful, and discriminatory speech. The only difference is that he got a platform and an audience. The fact that he was elected reveals a problem with the system that decided that Trump was more worthy of being president than other candidates who didn’t come close to repeating such abhorrent rhetoric. We need to stop targeting the individual and start focusing on the underlying problem at hand. America’s history is brimming with a tragic history of discrimination, segregation, and racism. Systematized racism is just as loud as active racism if you stop looking away and start paying attention. Unless America wakes up, it will continue to passively work in favor of an oppressive system.