Saturday, October 1, 2016

Is It a Race to the Whitehouse or Just Racism?

One fall day when my husband and I were dating - we (well I) decided it would be a fun idea to explore Purgatory Chasm with him.  I had been few times with my roommate and didn't think twice about a map or directions - I had never had a problem getting in or out of this park before.  However, I have an AWFUL sense of direction and apparently was doing a lot more following than I thought on my first few visits with my roommate because Michael and I got VERY lost in the woods.  When I say lost, I mean, we did not make it out of the woods until after 9pm.  (Before heading into the woods, I noticed his cell phone clipped to his hip to I left mine in the car since I didn't have pockets.  Lo and behold - his battery was dead.) In order to get out we eventually walked through someones back yard (despite the no trespassing signs) and eventually found our way to a road  -- a very dark road.  We walked the street for a little while and we eventually decided the only way we were ever going to make it back to our car was to knock on someones door and ask to use their phone and call someone to help us - at that point we didn't know who...the police? a taxi?  Back then my husband's accent was pretty thick so when we approached the house to knock on the door to ask for help - at the last minute he stepped back and said to me, "just you go.  I have a thick accent.  These people are much more likely to trust you than me!"  At the time I really didn't think much of it - but over the years this has always stuck with me.  Sadly, he was (and still is) right.  The woman who answered the door not only offered me her phone to use - but ultimately ended up giving us a ride back to our car (which was a good 2 miles away).  I can't help but wonder if/how things would have gone differently, if instead of a 5 foot 3 white girl knocking on the door to ask for help, a nearly 6 foot latino man, with a thick accent was asking!

If you were to look at our Presidential candidates on paper and not know anything about them, you might get the impression that there is no "ism" racism, no sexism, no prejudices.  After all, we currently have a black President and there is a woman in the running for our next President.    However, a closer look, tells us a different story.

On January 20, 2013, USA today released an article by Susan Page that talks about the Obama effect. Obama's election to Presidency was inspirational for so many people because his win seemed to prove a breakthrough in racism, however, what it really may have proved was just that more African Americans exercised their right to vote when they could identify better with a candidate.  When the article was written in 2013, the number of black candidates had increased, but the number of "black officials in top elective offices" had not changed.  "'We are kidding ourselves to think we've gotten over race,' [Taylor] Branch says. It is still a "fraught" subject he says most Americans prefer to avoid."

Johnson would definitely agree with this statement.  Johnson begins his text by telling us that the first thing we need to do in order to push past racism (and other "isms") we need to stop avoiding the topic; it needs to be addressed head on. Johnson also tells us that people within the culture of power may look to put a positive spin on the "isms" that may be brought up in conversation because that's easier than taking on the difficulties head on. (11, 12)  This was exactly the case when Obama was first elected president.  Many people focused on the great jump that was made that a black man was elected President for the first time - that masked (for a while) all the changes that still needed to be made.

Let's get SCWAAMPy for a minute in regards to this election...

The mere fact that Donald Trump is a candidate for this election speaks directly to Leslie Grimmer's SCAAMP theory, specifically the property ownership. Trump has no previous experience in neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives - he's simply a white male who owns a lot of property and therefore has a lot of money - How does that make someone capable of running this country?!

This interview that aired on ABC is a bit long but if you skip ahead to around 14:30, I want to call to your attention Trump's comments about Khizr Khan.  He suggests that Khan's wife did not speak because "maybe she was not allowed to have anything to say."  This comment is just mind blowing to me.  He does not know anything about Khan's family but yet, is so bold enough to make such a racist comment on national television.  The craziest part for me is that he does not appear to even realize how absurd his assumption about them is.  When Lisa Delpit discusses her theories on the Culture of Power, she says that those with the power are typically least aware of the power they hold, or are at least unwilling to acknowledge it. Trump's commentary seems to express the ignorance that Delpit talks about.

I also feel this statement strongly relates to Armstrong's & Wildman's arguments on color blindness and color insight.  "Whites often do not think of race and racial justice, except when they notice people of color are present," (68).  I can't help but wonder if Trump would make the same casual assumption if he were talking directly to Khan or to a Muslim interviewer.  Armstrong & Wildman also suggest that one of the ways to develop Color Insight is to resist stereotypes and try to see the individuality of everyone rather than group races together. Trump's statement is nothing but color blind.

Lastly, I feel as though I could not finish this post without touching upon Trump's stance on immigration.  Trump has flat out accused illegal immigrants, specifically Mexicans, of being drug dealers and rapists.  However, the American Immigration Council reports show a very different perspective.  According to this report from July 2015, "immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime."

The way Donald Trump speaks about people who are different from him, people who are not part of SCWAAMP, is a prime example of how far we have to go as a society before prejudice and racism (and all other "isms") have truly disappeared.  It would say one thing about our society if he announced his desire to run for presidency, and the public rolled their eyes and dismissed him.  The most eye opening aspect of his candidacy is that even if he does not win - he has a very significant number of supporters which means there are still many people who have the same thoughts/beliefs and stereotypes in their heads.


  1. I absolutely love the meme you added at the end of this blog. It finds a way to call out Donald Trump supporters by using a hysterical, but extremely direct, approach. The way you concluded your blog was an excellent way to acknowledge that there is still a problem in our country, regardless as to whether or not Trump wins. Now the power is in our hands - what can we do to fix it?

  2. "Let's get SCWAAMPy!" I love it!

    Your personal story allowed us to see a perspective of the unprivileged, the un-SCWAAMPy. The amount of benefits and things we take for granted when privileged is mind-baffling! I'm thankful your story didn't take a turn like the movie "127 Hours." I think a lot of people do, in fact, forget that the overwhelming majority of us are here because our ancestors were immigrants. I'm only a second/third generation Portuguese American. Both my Grandfathers were born in Portugal.

    Thank you for pointing out the ignorance that one of our candidates has, and connecting it to his SCWAAMPy traits.