The Diversity of Fear

I spent the first 20 years of my life in the company of people of various ethnicities and differing nationalities. One would think that if I found myself today, alone in a room full of people of color, I’d be comfortable. I wouldn’t! Yet, there’s a contradiction, when I was 19, I found myself in a small Liberian jail cell, chicken wire walls and a five gallon bucket to piss in, with about twenty other Liberians, and it didn’t bother me in the least. In fact, I struck up a conversation with a one eyed thief sprawled next to me. The contradiction is familiarity. I had spent most of my youth in Liberia, most of my friends were Liberians. I recently attended a birthday party for a Liberian friends daughter, and I found myself comfortable in a room full of Liberians. If I were to find myself this afternoon in a room full of American blacks who were strangers, I’d feel out of place, and very uncomfortable in a way that would be different then if I found myself in a room full of white Americans. I’d like to attribute the difference to shared experiences, but I don’t have a lot of shared experiences with white people either. The explanation might be as simple as being most comfortable with people who look, and act as I do, shared life experience be damned. Regardless of who I find myself in a room with, I realize my discomfort. It’s not the fault of the people in the room, it’s who I am, for whatever reason. I own it, I don’t like it, but I accept it and I move on, refusing to let my awkwardness ruin my experience.

And that’s the thing about racism, it’s multi layered. I don’t consider myself racist, but why would I be uncomfortable in a room full of people of color?

I believe we’re all racist at some level, based upon fear of the unknown, the unexpected, or some perceived threat. It seems it’s easier to project those fears onto somebody that’s different then what you look like, onto somebody you think you don’t havemuch in common with. In fact, humans have a history, across many cultures, of utilizing that fear, of blaming others for their misfortune, or justifying their behavior. It seems to be rather easy for someone to step up to a podium and inflame a crowd of people.

Logically, I understand racism. Emotionally, not so much. Do we lack the introspection to dive, and it’s a shallow dive, to question our own discomfort, our unease, or our outright hate of a person who is different? I understand the fear of change, of the unknown, of what is different then the norm, but for the life of me, I cannot understand letting that fear dictate who I am as a human being, to the point where I would dehumanize another person, much less an entire race or culture.

Trump, Racist?

Adolph Hitler believed in the Master Race, a belief founded in Joseph Arthur De Gobineau’s philosophy that distinct races who mixed, degenerated their cultures. Like Hitler, Donald Trump believes in the superiority of his genes. If environment plays any part in one’s belief, look no further than Donald Trump’s father. While there’s no valid evidence that Fred Trump was an active, and participating member of the Klu Klux Klan, he was arrested during a KKK rally, and Woody Guthrie was specific in his lyrics about old man Trump and his racial prejudice.

If a man’s actions are different than his words, the default is always to look to his actions to define ones’ character. In 1989, when 5 Black and Latino kids were charged with the brutal rape of a white woman, Donald Trump took out full page advertisements in leading New York papers, calling for their execution. Those five young adults were later to be found innocent, and to this day, Trump defends his actions, without apology.

Jumping to the recent past, in June of 2016, Trump claimed Mexico was sending us their ‘rapists’.

At face value, two incidents separated by twenty some years don’t make a person an outright racist. I’ve said, and done stupid things over the course of my lifetime to understand that. I have however, walked stupid actions back, and apologized as needed. I’ve tried to correct my wrongful assumptions.

Adding fuel to Racism charges is the fact that both he and his father were accused of racial discrimination as early as 1973, resulting in a settlement without admission of guilt. To continually make racial statements without apology, such as “they don’t look like Indians to me”, implying an American judge is biased due to his Mexican Heritage, along with attacking a gold star family, is fodder for defining the man’s character.

Trumps character is one based in abuse, of humiliation, divisiveness, and revenge and I can’t help but believe he takes great pride and pleasure in his character. Whether he is humiliating a disabled reporter, abusing a woman for her looks, implying he has the right to grope women, or simply seeking revenge toward one who disagrees with his own thoughts, nothing in his core character is unifying.

Indeed, in the last 24 hours, Trump has attacked the NFL, criticizing its owners for not disciplining their black players who kneel instead of stand during our anthem. It’s his personal opinion, but added to the thread of his character, I’m getting the drift.

Trump came full circle travelling from his Charlottesville comments to his NFL comments, in that his Charlottesville comments essentially claiming some white nationalists were good people and today, calling black NFL protestors sons of bitches.

All of this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Consider when Trump complemented those who assaulted a black protester during a campaign rally in Alabama. Perhaps we should let sink in, Trumps off the cuff remark that ‘Laziness is a trait of black people’, or his failure to outright condemn the white nationalists’ movement.

I watched the movie ‘Mother’ last night, an allegorical script about a mans need for adoration, and Trump came to mind. He’ll burn the world down around him to get that adoration from the few supporters he has left, that’s Trump. Fostering division to the delight of his base, encouraging hate to the gleeful screams of his fans, that’s Trump.

Finally, let’s not forget who Trump surrounded himself with in the early days of his administration. Bannon, Miller, Gorka, white nationalists! You are who you associate with. You are who your behavior dictates. Trump, Racist!