Muncie, Indiana.’ Nobody speaks for the poor ,’ says one resident. Photo: David Levene for the Guardian figcaption > source >
If there’s one thing that 200 years of slavery and 100 years of segregation did for African Americans, it was to temper their investing in the myth that the US is a meritocracy. The notion that if you worked hard and kept your nose clean, you would get on was always stymied by the grim realities of racial roadblocks.” America was never America to me ,” wrote the Harlem renaissance poet Langston Hughes in 1935′ s
Let America Be America Again.” There’s never been equality for me/ Nor freedom in this’ homeland of the free ‘.”
But, for many white Americans, the expectation that each year would be better than the next and each generation healthier and wealthier rendered the core for optimism. However, to those used premises being eroded, the feeling is now more reminiscent of a post-colonial country. People are looking back for a sense of hope. Ask Trump voters when they would like to go back to if they wanted to construct America great again and they will give you a date. Jeff Baxter wants to go back to the incandescence of the 60 s, Ted to the 80 s, others to the 50 s and beyond.
There are, of course, many white Americans looking forward, fighting for their place in a more equal and just, multiracial future. Heather Heyer, a 32 -year-old paralegal, was killed while to protest the neo-Nazi marching in Charlottesville when a car, allegedly driven by a neo-Nazi sympathiser, ploughed into the crowd.” She craved equality ,”
her father, Mark Heyer, said.” And in this issue of the working day of her pas, she wanted to put down dislike .”
Her mother, Susan Bro,
refused to take the president’s condolence bellow.” I’ve heard it said that the murder of two daughters was part of building America great ,” Bro added.” The blood on the streets … is that what constructed America great? Attacking innocent people with a vehicle … is that what made America great ?”
When American Renaissance, a white supremacist group straining to set a veneer of intellectualism and respectability on its bigotry, came to Montgomery Bell state park near Nashville in the summer, they were met by a crowd of mostly white protesters, chanting:” No Klan , no abhor , no racists in our nation .”
One told him that Trump’s election had shaken some white people out of their complacency.” We were asleep at the wheel ,” she said.” We can no longer find comfort in silence. We have to dig up all the fearlessnes “were having”, to take a stand for what’s morally correct .” On the jaunt back to Nashville I stopped at a secondhand shop on the roadside, selling Confederate paraphernalia, owned by Nikki who had a complicated relationship to the stars and bars.” I’m a proud southerner ,” she said.” But you and I both know the[ American] civil war’s basically about bondage ,” she told me.” Thank God we lost, thank God … but it doesn’t mean that we still don’t wanna honour our dead .”
Trump did not create this
anxiety nor this division. References to the civil conflict and the Klan illustrate for just how long white America has been riven by its sense of moral the objectives and substance privilege. What is new is that Trump has emboldened the bigots and channelled their thinking in a manner not seen in modern times. A chairperson who outlines a moral equivalent between neo-Nazis and anti-fascist protesters, who baits black jocks and black journalists, brands Mexicans rapists and Muslims terrorists.
One of those to whom he has given confidence is Richard Spencer, the intellectually unimpressive,
historically illiterate huckster who rallied the extreme right in Charlottesville. Spencer, who wants to create an “ethno-state” for white people, claims to have coined the term “alt-right”- a sanitised word for the far right. In July last year, Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, boasted that his website Breitbart News was a” platform for the alt-right “.
When I encountered Spencer at Montgomery Bell park, he emerged carrying a glass of what reeked like bourbon and an entourage of adoring racists soon surrounded me in the car park. More odious troll than eloquent polemicist, he claimed , among other things, that Africans had benefited from white dominance and that, despite having been prohibited from 26 European countries, Europe would always be more his house than mine.” If Africans had never existed, world history would be almost exactly the same as it is today ,” he claimed.” Because we are the genius that drives it .” Like a vulture preying on the nervousnes, and with few alternatives on offer- as much as people quoth Trump as their own problems, few offered Democrats as the solution- he felt confident.
” People are now aware of the word’ alt-right’ … I don’t think Trump shares the ideal of the ethno-state … But he wouldn’t have operated the campaign that he operated if he didn’t feel some sense of loss, that America has lost something ,” he said.
He felt he was gaining affect. This was one of the few accurate things he actually said. And by far the most chilling.
Angry, White and American is on Channel 4 at 10 pm on Thursday 9 November