Unmasking the Ugly Truth: Why Donald Trump is Good for America

By Andrea Colombel on September 14, 2017

Election Night 2016 was surely something to watch. I, like millions of other Americans, was up into the late hours of the night, nervously hoping that Hillary Clinton would win the swing states.

But as the night wore on, Donald Trump’s name kept appearing on the television screen as “projected winner.” I rationalized to myself that there was no way that he could win. He was too controversial, too reckless. People would surely come to their senses and vote for Hillary. Alas, I was wrong, as were the news organizations that predicted his supposedly inevitable loss.

Since his inauguration in January, Donald Trump has been a train wreck. He is the exact opposite of Barack Obama’s deliberate and eloquent demeanor. But despite Trump’s failings, his presidency has brought out elements of our country that we had not paid attention to before. The election of Donald Trump has revealed the racist underbelly that permeates the American electoral process and has demonstrated the power of white privilege. It has exposed the vile ways and mindset of white supremacists to the point that the media is finally referring to them as terrorists. As arduous as these circumstances are, they are necessary for progress.

Sins of the Fathers

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

This gothic, almost foreboding quote did not come from a cynical philosopher with an inherent contempt for Western society, but from our very own 16th president Abraham Lincoln. At the time that Lincoln made this sobering statement, America was at war with itself over a schism about basic human rights. After 246 years of its existence as an economic way of life, slavery had finally ended in 1865. But the path to its abolition is one that is paved in blood. To this day, the Civil War cost more American lives than any other war in U.S. history.

Fast forward to the present: despite having previously elected the first black president for two terms, we have elected an outspoken white supremacist as his successor. Donald Trump is a candidate that got farther politically than the infamous George Wallace ever could (“segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”).

You might be thinking, “how is this possible?” We’ve gone from viewing ourselves as post-racial, to having white nationalists proudly chanting hateful epithets and giving Nazi salutes on a college campus. The explanation of this paradoxical phenomenon lies in the nation’s roots.

The United States of America has one of the most convoluted origin stories in the modern Western world. It is a nation that is full of contradictions. While we ideally were founded on the principles of freedom and equality, in reality, we only value freedom for S.W.A.S.P.s (Straight White Anglo-Saxon Protestants), and equality doesn’t really exist as the U.S. has high levels of social stratification that date back to the 1600s. The Revolutionary War exemplifies this: patriots fighting for freedom while owning slaves. In sociology, this is referred to as ideal culture vs. real culture.

The unacknowledged discrepancies between our ideal and real cultural values are also why we overlook our extensive history of genocide and ethnic cleansing. We love to point to the Germans and speak of their horrible treatment of the Jews.

But the United Nations defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, as such:

“Killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

Both the Atlantic Slave Trade and the Indigenous Holocaust fit into this definition. Both of these atrocities made it possible for Europeans to colonize and build the United States into the great nation it is today. When European explorers arrived in the New World, they realized that in order to achieve their “manifest destiny” they had to wipe out the Native tribes that already occupied the landscape. They used various methods including biochemical warfare in the form of smallpox-laced blankets. After killing off the Red Man, they psychologically destroyed the Black Man using Willie Lynch’s slave manual and then forced him to work on the stolen land.

The horrors of these centuries-long tragedies are the reason that in the 21st century we as a nation are still dealing with the evils of racism. In our Faustian deal that we made to attain power, we have lost our soul. 

Little Man & Boss Baby

In the African American community, we sometimes use the term “little man” to refer to our sons. This is done in response to the white majority calling black men boys and disrespecting their manhood. We use this term also because we know how hard it is going to be for our sons once they grow up. That they will have to live in a world that is determined to jail, oppress, and kill them.

On the other hand, white men don’t have to face this grim reality. The world is their oyster: they see themselves in every corner of society, whether it’s law enforcement, politics, or business. They don’t have to worry about the police pulling them over and then somehow “accidentally” killing them. Every history book is written by them for them. Even God is portrayed as a white man in paintings and cinema. But because of this fantastical universe they live in, there are many of them who underneath it all are hypersensitive to the truth.

White men’s privilege shields them from the harsh world that exists for everyone else. In this way, they are like what I call “boss babies;” akin to the animated children’s movie The Boss Baby. They have all the world’s power, yet when faced with the truth, they project their hypersensitivity onto others in the form of irrational accusations. They claim that women and minorities are the overly sensitive ones and that there’s too much “political correctness,” a term that is used for the purpose of deflection. This combination of total power with hypersensitivity creates the boss baby complex.

Barack Obama and Donald Trump exemplify these phenomena. Obama, though 15 years younger, is more mature than Donald Trump and thinks before speaking. He has had to be more mature to deal with both the responsibilities of being president and the blatant racism that has followed him and his family. Even in his youth before he got into politics, he had to cope with growing up in a world that just recently saw the end of Jim Crow.

Trump, on the other hand, has grown up with all the possible privileges: he is straight, white, male, and wealthy. He has never truly struggled nor has peoples’ judgment of him kept him from success. In an already narcissistic individual, this further played into his sense of entitlement. This lifestyle combined with his personality prevented him from growing up. It is why during the Republican primaries he would call his opponents names like a schoolyard bully. It is why he is the Boss Baby and Barack Obama is Little Man.

The Future of Race Relations

I believe that America can change and that the sins of the Founding Fathers don’t have to define us. But we must make a conscious effort to make that change. It took us 246 years to realize that slavery is wrong. How long is it going to take us to realize that slavery’s ghost is still haunting us? That it is the reason that people hold onto the lie that black people are somehow inferior despite lack of scientific evidence.

One way to change this negative trajectory is to adjust the way we educate our children. In the K-12 system, English and history classes are supposed to coincide in their curriculum to give students a broader perspective. But in eighth grade, while I was learning about the Civil War in history class, I was reading Elie Wiesel’s Night, a Holocaust memoir in my other class. The curriculum didn’t match because I wouldn’t learn about World War II until I was in tenth grade. So, I had no context for the Holocaust because I knew nothing about World War II. Instead, I should have been reading a slave narrative like Solomon Northup’s 12 Years a Slave.

One reason why people have an empathy and understanding of the Holocaust is because we learn about it at an impressionable age. This is not to say that anti-Semitism doesn’t exist anymore. But it’s true that Holocaust education has developed a certain level of remorse amongst society. In Europe where it occurred, education has brought about positive change. The United States can do this, but we first have to be honest with ourselves.

We have to admit to ourselves that we are founded on racism and that it has defined us as a country. We have to stop telling ourselves that events such as the one that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia are against our values, when in fact they are exactly what we value. Coming to terms with these truths doesn’t mean that they will continue to define us in the future. We can make the decision to end that today. As a millennial, I ask all millennials reading this to be the generation that not only elects the first black president, but also the generation that begins America’s overdue healing process. As the saying goes, “Those who do not learn their history are doomed to repeat it.”

pexels.com

Sources:

http://www.history.com/news/10-surprising-civil-war-facts

http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/pdf/osapg_analysis_framework.pdf

http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/slavery

http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1163&context=gsp

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/manifest%20destiny

http://www.history.org/foundation/journal/spring04/warfare.cfm

http://sociologydictionary.org/ideal-culture/

http://sociologydictionary.org/real-culture/

Hi, my name is Andrea Colombel but I go by my nickname Andie. I was born in Los Angeles but grew up in Redlands, CA. I graduated from Redlands East Valley High School in 2013 and started attending Crafton Hills College and San Bernardino Valley College the following school year. This year I was accepted into Cal State San Bernardino's criminal justice program and I will be attending in the fall. My goal is to receive my Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School and my dream is to be a criminal prosecutor in a metropolitan area like New York City or Washington D.C.

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