What’s Behind Door #3: White Supremacy

Charles Blow in his Ope-Ed piece got it right: ” The lowest white man must be exalted above those who are black.”  http://nyti.ms/2DhfjzZ If you didn’t or don’t believe this just look at Barack Obama’s eight years in the Oval office. The assault on him, his legitimacy, was not waged on the basis that he did not receive the majority of the popular vote and  the Electoral College, but on the legitimacy of his right to occupy that office because he was a fake American. Donald Trump, with the assistance of the GOP’s Tea Party wing   and silent complicity of most Republicans, used this canard to dislodge our ethical and brilliant president. Their ability to engage so many in this farce was rooted in that ever present American virus: white supremacy.

White supremacy is America’s original sin. Its origins go back to Virginia’s Bacon’s Rebellion (1676) when white indentured servants along with black indentured servants, black slaves and poor free whites, led by the privileged Nathaniel Bacon, burnt Jamestown to the ground. At the heart of this uprising was the lack of opportunity for whites not already established. The rebellion ultimately failed, but in its aftermath Virginia plantation owners turned away from using  white indentured servants for their labor in favor of black enslaved labor. The result was that by the early 18th century Virginia’s black population which, for most of the 17th century was under 10%, had risen to 40% and was now 99% enslaved. Ironically, most of the colony’s white population continued to be poor but the fatal result of  the failed Bacon’s Rebellion was an unspoken “deal” white plantation owners offered poor whites: “the lowest white man will be exalted over every black person.”

After the Civil War that “bargain” continued anchored by Jim Crow and later the subtler dog whistles and practices of the post- Civil Rights Act era. Now the GOP and their chosen leader, Donald J. Trump have boldly come out from behind their curtains to “Make America White Again.” And “whiteness,” as those individual Jews, Muslims, Latinos,  LBGT etc. backers of Trump and his GOP will ultimately discover is, and will be, defined ever more narrowly in Trumpland. Buyers of this ideology  beware.

On this MLK Day, where the nation stands on a precipice, we need to acknowledge that the ideology of white supremacy, to our lasting national shame, is deeply rooted in America’s very structure and has been from our inception. Digging it out is a daily struggle, but if we don’t dig deep the lasting and tragic consequences are today on our doorstep just waiting for that door to be fully opened.



America: A Nation of Immigrants from “Shithole” Countries

Donald Trump, in is own very inimical way, paved the way for a long over-due conversation about how so many of us got to be American. Almost all of us, regardless of when our ancestors came or from where, are descendants of a “shithole” country. Why? Because with few exceptions, the well to do, the comfortable, the secure, do not leave family, friends, language and their known world behind to immigrate.

Immigration is not an easy undertaking. It is scary. It is difficult. More often than not, the immigrating generation works their fingers to the bone in dirty, backbreaking and ill-remunerated work. Ask Donald Trump’s mother, Mary Dunham, the daughter of a fisherman who grew up in a large, struggling family in the “shithole” village of Tong, Scotland. Like millions of immigrants she was the product of chain migration linked to the United States by a sister already resident in New York. Mary was also unskilled and made her way in her adopted country as a domestic servant. In other words, Trump would not exist but for an unskilled, impoverished parent who came to this country through chain migration because the conditions in her “shithole” country motivated her to leave. Dunham, except for her whiteness, epitomized everything Trump despises in so many of  today’s immigrants.

Most Americans, except for Native Americans, are not too far removed from some version of  Trump’s mother’s experience. It would behoove this president, and all of us, to remember this before we close our doors to the process that has served us so well for hundreds of years and without which America would never have prospered or (until the ascension of Trump) been the envy of the world. I say etch in your mind, heart and soul the words engraved on Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Emma Lazarus




and with it the spirit, values and access to the human capitol that have made America great.