As a group of us discussed presidential politics, a friend visiting from Africa casually said, “Racism has been a part of America from the start, but people were just afraid to speak out because it was politically incorrect. Donald Trump is simply voicing the opinions of the people who have been silent.”
Racism is just one part of a larger group of prejudice, one that includes sexism, classism, homophobia, and virtually anything that marginalizes whomever is seen by some as “the weaker link” of society. Trump has exposed this larger thread which lines American culture.
It’s all out in the open now, isn’t it? The underbelly is exposed, and people are lining up from both political parties to call him out on “ism” issues that will never take him down – that only bolster him among the audience who believes as he does and is ready to vote. The signs are flagrant now, literally, as I saw on the store just down the road from me last night.
“Trump that B*TCH!” said the sign on Lewis Country Store last night. On Sundays, this sign proudly proclaims that they are closed on Sunday, and reminds people to go to church.
With Hillary Clinton now the presumptive nominee, we are sure to see the threads of sexism raised to the surface, where it has been denied almost as vehemently as climate change among some. “Quiet” sexism is very much present in the US, in the home, in the workplace, in the church and civil society. When salary surveys expose this reality, they move faster out of the headlines than one of Trump’s tweets.
So, what can these raised threads do for us? They can be quietly tucked back into the garment of society, or perhaps they can be cut off without unraveling the whole. Who knows? Audre Lorde’s words can guide us:
“For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices.”