ESPN’s veteran sportswriter and co-host of Sportscenter with Michael and Jemele – Jemele Hill –
found herself in the middle of a firestorm this past week after she sent out a tweet in which she wrote: Donald Trump is a white supremacist. This was in response to individuals who had tweeted @ her about any number of race or political related topics. Immediately the righteous indignation began. You know like: “How dare she call him a racist”?! “She should be fired”! “If a white person said something about a black person, they’d be gone”! “ESPN is a liberal organization and that’s why they are supporting her”. Etc. Etc. Etc.
To begin with I am not quite sure what Donald Trump is if NOT a white supremacist? This is a man who along with his father (his father once attended a Klan rally by the way) would not lease apartments to black people. This is a man who essentially castigated and persecuted five black and latino teenage boys (who were clearly suspects simply because of the color of their skin) for a rape of a white woman that took place in Central Park (they were dubbed the Central Park Five). Donald Trump spent EIGHTY FIVE THOUSAND dollars in full page ads in the newspaper calling for their death. It was ultimately found – fourteen years AFTER their conviction – that they 100% did NOT commit the crime based on DNA and a confession by the actual perpetrator. And did Trump ever apologize or admit any wrong doing? Of course not. In fact upon being confronted with the indisputable evidence he inexplicably doubled down – saying he STILL thought they were guilty!
It was Donald Trump who spearheaded a “birther movement” that claimed former President Barack Obama, who of course was the nation’s first black President, was not born in the United States but rather Kenya. And when Obama eventually produced his LONG FORM birth certificate (more indisputable evidence) just to shut everyone up (especially him) and move on – did Donald Trump apologize or has he admitted any wrong doing to this very day? Once again – of course not!
Fast forward to Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency during which he spewed racially charged rhetoric each and every step of the way – culminating with his arm having to almost be twisted off in order to disavow an official endorsement by the KKK. And when he won based largely upon that xenophobic platform he then stepped up onto said platform and hired the likes of now fired Steve Bannon who is clearly a far right-wing fanatic (among other dubious characters in his employ) to help shape his public policy and political ideology. And unfortunately I am not done yet because believe it or not he followed ALL of that up with his recent detached response to the infamous neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville – an event that included a vicious attack on DeAndre Harris and the loss of Heather Heyer who was MURDERED after a white supremacist RAN OVER her with his car – and yet our President could not originally bring himself to unequivocally condemn white supremacy. And after having been pressured into eventually doing so he then subsequently back-tracked to his original stance.
So let’s get something straight. If we lived in a society that did NOT in large part adhere to or accept the tenants of white supremacy (even if many don’t realize they are) – a “Donald Trump” could NEVER (“ever ever ever” as Smokey from Friday would say) have been elected as President of the United States. I know for some this is a tough reality to accept. And the reason it is hard for some to accept is because our culture – our traditions – our intrinsic American DNA has been completely immersed within the deep and turbulent waters of White Supremacy from 1492 up until this very moment. However, for Black Americans (generally speaking): this truth is as clear as broad daylight because we have borne witness to and been the victims of the derivatives of white supremacy in all of its horrible forms for centuries by now. And it is kind of hard to have delusions of grandeur about liberty and equality when you live in a society that would elect someone to the highest office in our land in 2017 despite the dubious resume spelled out above that covers the entire span of their adult life.
Jemele did not say anything that was controversial or foreign to Black America or other people of color. We knew what Trump was from Jump Street because we have seen individuals with his mindset dating back to ante-bellum. The ONLY difference between now and then is that we can speak the truth without fear of hanging from a tree off the side of some dirt road. That is all that Jemele Hill did…she spoke truth to power. And she did so because she – like many of us – is not only frustrated by an electorate that put someone in place who is so utterly lacking @ all the requisite capacities needed to perform the duties of the office he has assumed – but also due to the fact that he disparaged just about every race other than White America in the process. A fact which is only more disappointing than it is infuriating.
What is particularly sad about all of this is directly connected to what I have been preaching time and time again on this blog. And that is the fact that America does not want to have this discussion and so it simply doesn’t and never has in any substantive form. And this is a prime example of how within the context of a white supremacist culture a TV network must be careful not to alienate their viewers (many of whom who are white males in this instance incidentally) with an in-depth discussion about race. So some executive at ESPN who probably knows Jemele is dead right about Donald Trump – most likely sat her down and said: “We need you to extend an apology and let the public know in no uncertain terms that ESPN has no part of what you said, etc”. Instead of being allowed to defend her position, Jemele was no doubt forced to lie a few days ago and pretend she is sorry for telling the truth. America will therefore now be able to do what it ALWAYS does which is to deny and avoid the truth about racism in this country.
Until we can have these discussions under the revealing light of voices like Jemele’s which are silenced by white supremacy – we will not make any real progress. And that is precisely why we have a racial divide in this country. Despite popular opinion the divide among us is not due to differing perceptions about issues of race – it is due to a dominant perception about issues of race. A dominant perception that has roamed the social terrain of our nation unchecked from day one – ruthlessly savaging its prey along the way.
How much longer can America avoid talking about the enormous elephant of white supremacy which is standing right there in the middle of the room? I am thoroughly convinced that that is the single most important question of our time. You know it is quite possible that Donald Trump truly believes that he is not a white supremacist. That’s what white supremacy does after all – it’s why it is dangerous on so many levels – especially after having been left unbridled for centuries: It has normalized to much of White America behavior that is completely unacceptable. And that is the reality that not only Jemele but all of Black America is up against every day in this nation. A nation that though you would not know it in many respects – is not just home to White America – but home to Black America and a beautiful cacophony of many other races as well.
Oreos to go: Had the victim of the rape in Central Park been a black woman do you think Donald Trump would have taken such a vested interest in that case?
More than a blog. It’s a movement.
Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.
And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos.