If there was any doubt that racism is alive and well in the United States, the Trump campaign has removed it. Here is how Egbert Willies describes it in an article for Daily Kos:
Every thinking American knows that Donald Trump has ripped the scab off a very infected wound. We all know that America still suffers from the infection that is racism. But most people figured as long as we didn’t talk about it, we could avoid dealing with it. There were many who remained willfully ignorant.
Then Trump came along, and dissed political correctness. He gave many the freedom to say what they genuinely felt. And guess what shocked the willfully ignorant? The increasingly clear fact that a large percentage of the American population is still racist. . . .
Trump preys on racism born out of fear and socioeconomic displacement. He makes it clear with his inferences that those others (read: minorities) are stealing their birthright. This gets traction because our derelict media fails to articulate the reality: That their plight is borne from the economic policies which are crafted by and benefit a select few—people like Trump himself. At the end of the day, there is little left to extract from the poor. As such, white middle-class America is being welcomed to the reality of the less fortunate others. Fertilizing and nurturing the inner racist in a segment of our society is just a deflection, a survival mechanism for the plutocracy.
But Trump does more than that. He touches a nerve in some who believe America’s “natural pecking order” must be restored. I read between the lines when otherwise intelligent engineers and lawyers tried to explain to me why they are voting for Trump. What they were unable to say spoke much more clearly than their bumbling reasoning.
And then there is an insidious racism—racism effected through invisibility, disregard, and neglect. This type is manifested in dozens of ways, but most aren’t easily pinpointed. It’s apparent in things like potholes that are fixed promptly in predominantly white neighborhoods but rarely in poor, predominantly minority areas. It’s the poor service received by people of color at restaurants and other places of business, the assumptions made about the intelligence of kids and their promotion into higher-level classes. It’s the disregard of input provided at work or at conferences, being offered less than preferable rates on loans, and important medical news reports and research that ignore segments of the population.
Many of these have economic—and life or death—consequences. A few years back there was a meningitis scare in my area. One of the symptoms described had to do with how the skin would change color. That characteristic does not apply to 40 percent of the Houston area, based on citizens' skin color.
Many view the South, or tea party members, or folks supporting Trump and other overtly racist politicians as the problem. That would be much too simplistic. The South is no more racist than the North. While some politicians are happy to blurt out their racist rants, we should fear the ones who actually write policies that are implicitly biased. While Trump voices anti-immigrant rhetoric, many others quietly exploit the immigrant. While Trump denigrates blacks, it is Hollywood and others that stereotype them. While Trump wants a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., many others discriminate against them in a myriad of ways. Trump is just America's exaggerated alter ego.
Racism is an ingrained problem that is taught. From childhood, we are presented with subjective standards of beauty. Those in power make assumptions about crime, intelligence, and worth. Racism is a necessary tool to keep us divided, and most of us don’t realize it’s on autopilot. An unfair, extractive economic system needs racism as a tool in order to deflect the plutocracy's failures.
Trump is upsetting that status quo. He turned off the autopilot and went full-throttle. The question is whether we will have the courage address the problem head on, once and for all. We must not only throttle back: We must eradicate the autopilot once and for all.