I owe you an apology, dear readers. I’ve left you hanging since January. Maybe you think the Trump high jinks left me wordless. I can’t say they haven’t had an impact, but rendering me wordless was not the result. Rather, I’ve been writing and writing, and I am nearly done. I will publish a book soon, and I hope you will read it, not just to humor me, but because it is a small contribution to the conversation about race in America and is in honor of and dedicated to the women who have lost sons and daughters at the hands of biased police, vigilantes and white supremacist terrorists.
Now a little bit about these last seven months:
There has hardly been a day when I haven’t had the news on for most of it. That isn’t the healthiest response to all that is going on, but, at the same time, there is so much going on. The difference in headlines in as little as an hour can be mind warping and tough to keep up with. Trump voters got what they wished for when they kept searching for ways to delegitimize former President Obama and candidate for president Hillary Clinton – lots of scandal and incompetence and chaos and election interference and maybe, no, probably, collusion and criminal activity. It’s like watching a really bad reality TV show. I’m expecting fisticuffs in the daily White House briefing any day now.
Trump supporters also wished for isolationism, and Trump has diminished our world presence and his status as the leader of the free world one stupid misstep, bullying word, and ignorant comment at a time. Trump had one success, the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch can barely hide his extreme right agenda.
Trump supporters denied climate change, and Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accord. Trump supporters were afraid of immigrants and wished to turn America white again, and AG Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, even beleaguered, in Trump’s opinion, showed his support of a bill presented by Senator Tom Cotton under the guise of immigration reform that, if passed, will assure America remains a white, (fundamental) Christian, and English speaking only majority. The beleaguered AG also penalized sanctuary cities, put a halt to consent decrees negotiated and agreed upon by cities and police departments to hold the police accountable in use of profiling and excessive force, and announced a crackdown on journalists and their sources in the federal government who leak information. Finally, and one wonders how someone so beleaguered can accomplish so much of his white nationalist agenda, the AG announced a call for attorneys to assist in an investigation and possible charges against universities who use affirmative action plans in their admissions processes.
Watch what you wish for, Trump supporters. Fields of vegetables and orchards of fruit are going unpicked and are rotting due to a shortage of workers, while Trump successfully brought into the country 15,000 immigrants for his low-paying seasonal hospitality jobs. Obamacare hasn’t been repealed or replaced, and some of you are secretly relieved. The wall wasn’t built. The swamp wasn’t drained, rather, it is spilling over. Taxes for the wealthy weren’t cut – how was that going to help you again? The Legislative branch of government is even more dysfunctional and paralyzed than ever. And your lives haven’t changed one iota except that the air you breathe and the water you drink, cook with, and bathe in is about to get dirtier.
Affirmative Action, which has been around since the 1940s, has gone before the Supreme Court many times in the past forty years. Each time, it is ruled legal. Perhaps Trump believes the Supreme Court now has the votes to shoot it down. Or maybe this is an exercise in appeasing the Trump supporters who continue to show up at rallies to boost his ego.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Office of the General Counsel, defined affirmative action this way: Any measure, beyond simple termination of a discriminatory practice, that permits the consideration of race, national origin, sex, or disability, along with other criteria, and which is adopted to provide opportunities to a class of qualified individuals who have either historically or actually been denied those opportunities and/or to prevent the recurrence of discrimination in the future.
There are a couple of important things to remember: 1) there is no quota system, which many detractors claim is the reason the laws are unjust, and it specifically states “qualified individuals, ” which detractors seldom mention because it goes against their narrative of unfairness; 2) these laws protect these classes of individuals from future discrimination. Companies, municipalities, and universities create affirmative action plans based on criteria such as demographics, historical patterns and practices of recruitment, hiring, admissions, and retention, and current information about applicants. These plans are in place to level the playing field, and until the playing field is completely level and there is no threat of regression, they will continue to exist.
The concept of reverse discrimination is a tell on white privilege. It proves that if you are white, your expectations are shaped by that fact. You expect to be hired, accepted into college, approved for a mortgage, approved for a lease, to live where you want, to be hired in the field you are interested in pursuing, to have the best schools, to go wherever your heart desires, and to seldom hear the word “no.”
It also proves something else, and that is if you believe there is reverse discrimination, you know that discrimination exists and you approve of it. You know not everyone can hope for the things you take for granted, and you don’t care as long as you get yours even at the expense of others. People with this mindset accept privilege and worry that equality will diminish their status rather than lift the status of others to equal status.
The Declaration of Independence opens with this: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
The use of “men” does not exclude women and gender non-conforming individuals, nor does it only refer to white Christians. Man, or mankind, is inclusive, not exclusive.
The preamble of the Constitution states: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The Trump administration is erasing the best hopes and ideals of this country and is flouting its founding principles.
The response is to resist, persist, contribute to the national conversation on defining who we are as a country, be an active civic and critically thinking citizen, disavow discrimination of any kind, let Trump supporters know our vision of America is inclusive and we welcome them to the conversation, support the individuals who are willing to run for elected office and who are willing to go to the mat to fight for our best selves and ideals for America, stop in-fighting about who is and isn’t progressive enough, remember your own privilege and check it, and vote in every single election. We got this.