Presidential 2016

A History That Divides

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Donald Trump’s rallies in St. Louis and Chicago are the manifestation of America’s pastime of “otherizing” folk who are darker than white. While the Republican Presidential candidate’s rhetoric plays a role in the racist behavior of his supporters, this phenomenon is hardly birthed by him. When we as a nation pretend to be astonished by these occurrences, we reveal our lack of historical understanding.

For who among us is not familiar with the first movie ever screened in the White House: The Birth of a Nation. It defined that which would be considered noble as white people controlling nonwhites. Let me say it with cloudless sky clarity, the behaviors exhibited at these rallies should not come as a surprise for they are as American as the Constitution itself.

Consider this: how are their supporters expected to react after a 50-year courtship by politicians who have instituted the Southern Strategy, designed and employed by Republicans to attract conservative, White democrats? They have been trained to believe THEY are the victims of a government looking to redistribute their wealth to violent, lazy, sex-crazed people of color.

“It is of critical import, not only for historical purposes, but for the future of this country’s politic that we are honest with ourselves.”

Their leaders have fed them a steady diet of hate for Americans who disagree with them. As such, they are stuffed with justification and drunk on a cocktail of code words to signal that they, too, hate Blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, and any other “Other.”

Donald Trump’s behavior, as a Presidential candidate, is repulsive. But, it is not unique. It is of critical import, not only for historical purposes, but for the future of this country’s politic that we are honest with ourselves. America’s political system is an institution built for and by racist White men. When the Constitution was drafted, the diversity known as “We, the people” discussed in that document was limited to white men: old white men, young white men, and land owning white men.

You ask how these Trump supporters can behave this way. Well, look at history. Anytime the “we” have tried to expand, white Americans have rioted, lynched, maimed, shot and killed. So, what happened in St. Louis and Chicago seems as American as apple pie.

Mondale Robinson is the Founder of Conyers Institute of Public Policy, a political consulting firm. He is a former Marine with two degrees, and he is currently finishing his law degree and the program at the William Jefferson Clinton School of Public Policy.

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