Sunday, March 6, 2016

Donald Trump and "Whiteness"

I have not been at a Donald Trump Rally, but from what I have been able to observe from photos and video cllps posted by both supporters and opponents, attendance at them has been overwhelmingly white. In a society which is increasingly multiracial, that cries out for explanation.Is that accidental, or does it reflect some underlying divisions in the society or the segregated nature of our social networks?
Please understand that this comment is not intended to demonize supporters of Donald Trump. I made the same comments about education activist events I have attended, ranging from the first big Save our Schools March, to the founding conference of the Network for Public Education, and have applied a similar critique to recruitment and admissions policies of my own university.
The big issue here is not the raw facts of this observation. but how Trump supporters deal with the "Whiteness" of their movement. Is this something they see as problematic, and want to change, or is it something that they draw strength from and is essential to the movement's appeal?
If Trump's support is driven by an affirmation of Whiteness,and an implicit if not explicit connection between Whiteness and Americanness, it is only a matter of time before the movement comes to grief. You cannot in this society, given its demographic composition, base a political movement on the solidarity, defiance and rage of a single racial group without increasing division and inciting people to violence.
White Trump supporters may in fact be more diverse than I am suggesting. I certainly hope so. But if they aren't. we are in for a very rough ride, and not only during this election cycle. We don't need another George Wallace unleashing the demons of White Racial Angst. We need leaders who understand the danger that path entails, even while they make sharp criticisms of how the country has been run.