If you've been around here for a while, you already know most of this (after all, I did a whole series on racism last year before I knew what kind of issue it was going to be in the Presidential election), but let me just reiterate:
- I grew up in the South. I grew up amongst "good, hard working folk," almost all of whom voted for Trump.
- I grew up in the Church. And not one of those liberal Methodist-type churches (they dance!), either. I grew up in a good ole Bible thumpin' evangelical Southern Baptists church. I even spent years working in the Church.
- I grew up surrounded by and immersed in racism. (I fought against it in my church.)
- I have been told, "That's just your education talking," which, honestly, as a teenager, I didn't understand. Of course, it was my education talking, at least in that I was getting educated so that I would be... well, educated!
- I have been told in all sincerity that higher education is a waste of time because you don't need to know anything that's not in the Bible. All you need to do is read the Good Book.
So, see, it's not that I don't understand you; it's that I do understand you, and I understand you all too well.
So you don't like being called a racist despite the fact that when you voted for Trump you were joining Team Racism. Fine...
So you don't like being called sexist despite the fact that when you voted for Trump you cast a vote for misogyny, both personal and institutionalized. Fine...
Let's just settle on "asshole," then. What? You don't like that, either? Let me call your attention back to a book I reviewed last year: Assholes. Specifically, let's look at the definition Aaron James provides us for what an asshole is. At the time I wrote the review, no one protested the provided definition:
- The asshole allows himself to enjoy special advantages and does so systematically.
- The asshole does this out of an entrenched sense of entitlement.
- The asshole is immunized by his sense of entitlement against the complaints of other people.
And I'm going to add a fourth:
- The asshole complains if anyone tries to take the special advantages away. A frequent refrain is, "That's not fair!" Perhaps, the asshole even tries to forcibly regain the special advantages, not seeing (or caring), because of his entitlement, that those advantages come at the expense of other people. [Most frequently in this country, those advantages come at the expense of women, but we can't get to the point of adequately dealing with rampant sexism because we can't get to it through all of the racism.]
I think these points pretty thoroughly describe Trump voters, virtually all of whom were white and/or male. [Yes, a large percentage of white women voted for Trump because they align with "white" rather than "women." Almost no women of color (any color (other than white)) voted for Trump.]
I'm not going to try to walk you all through it (you know what you did), but I will nutshell it for you:
When you're candidate says, "I will give you these things you want, but I am also going to do bad things to these other people," and you vote for him because you want the things even at the expense of the other people (Mexicans, Muslims, African Americans, women, people of sexual orientation you don't agree with or understand), that puts you right in the ASSHOLE definition (see point 3 (which marches back up to 2 and, then, 1)). And all of that came about because you spent so much time whining about how you were losing your "special place" at the front of the line.
Let me put it another way:
When you believe that you, white person, deserve special treatment at the expense of non-white people and/or non-traditionally white people, it does, indeed, make you racist. It is the definition of racism. And I grew up with you; I know how all of this works; I know the tricks you play on yourself so that you can tell yourself that you're not one of the racist ones and that you are a good person, the primary one being, "I have black friends! I can't be racist!" Racism isn't about how you treat people you know; it's about how you treat people you don't know and how you think about those same people.
All of that to say this:
Quit asking us to "understand you." We do understand you. All of us. We know what you voted for and why. Sure, you may not have been voting against those other people, but you were voting for yourselves. And you were voting for yourselves at the expense of others, and you were fully aware of that at the time. That you are willing to sacrifice the very safety of others just so you can feel special again is, actually, racism. You need to come to grips with that and either embrace it or reject it. You can't play both sides.
The problem here is not that we don't understand you. The problem is that you refuse to look at yourselves and understand that your actions don't fit your words. And, sorry (not sorry), actions still do speak louder.