It’s been a pretty bad week. Events seem to be taking the darkest of turns…
I wrote yesterday that You Need an Escape Plan if You’re Not White in America. Just over the course of the day, I became even more convinced. It was chilling seeing that press conference of Trump calling for the collective punishment of immigrants for the violent crimes of a few — what Paul Krugman called the new “blood libel.” My trepidation went to a new level when I realized Trump had autographed the huge photos of dead children he was using as props. It made me realize: we’re really heading there. He really is a historical supervillain.
Sherry Kappel responded with frustration:
I hate this so much. I hate everything that is happening, I hate that I spent years fretting the move to the right without still realizing the end game, I hate that I bought into that whole “melting pot” disguise, I hate that you’re right about every bit of it. Every single caring white person like me who foolishly believed that “humans are essentially good” needs to move past their doubts, their shock, and their paralytic horror and get to work — while there is still something to work for. Thank you for the list that is a great starting point.
I think this is the toughest part for most people to get past: trying to figure out why it took so long to see this coming. The “humans are essentially good” line of thought helps society to function — living together requires trust. Nevertheless, I think events have shown us that we have to go deeper. We have to assess people’s character more critically. People’s words forecast their actions.
They really are as wicked as they keep telling us they are…
Earlier in the week, I’d posted The Failure of American Journalism is Dooming the Nation, and it addressed the major reason people didn’t see that things weren’t getting this bad: they weren’t told. The voices of the people who knew best weren’t amplified.
Marley K. addressed this with her comment:
Funny how no one believed some of “We the people” who knew what the “base talk” really meant. Oh he couldn’t possibly be saying what you think he’s saying. I just couldn’t understand how White America and the media was so complicit about disseminating the code that so many people of color have known and dealt with for generations. Thanks to the media, the help make it mainstream to millions here in the U.S and around the globe. The “code” is code no more. This IS America. It always was. The media is as complicit as our all over the politicians are.
Laura Godden Nielsen agreed with Marley K.
I agree with Marley K. and see this as another example of white people failing as allies. Instead of fully trusting and listening to the experienced expertise and analysis of those with less racial privilege (“Oh, you’re saying we are in danger and need to do something? Ok, what can I do to help?”), we (myself included, I also failed as a white person) thought there was no way he could ever get this far or do this much damage (“There’s no way there are other white people out there that think he’s a credible option. It will all turn out fine.”) It is akin to being in the path of a hurricane and ignoring the one person who’s been through it when they give you safety advice.
For all this to be turned around, for the damage to be mitigated, these kinds of conversations need to be happening all over the United States. There needs to be an acknowledgment that things have gone dreadfully wrong, and the people who have been on the forefront of these issues — the people who have lived through the hurricanes — need to be given the microphones. They have to be allowed to lead. Talking over them constantly is part of what got us here.
There were two comments that bookended the problem and solution.
James Jordan wrote:
The media is there to make money, period. There is no concern about “news’ only about what will make money. I was 30 years in the business. I have seen it happen. Gone are the days when any media would take a moral stand about anything.
So now we have kids in camps .. how long until they are concentration camps, and how long until we have gas chambers.
There was a time in this nation where networks would brag about how much money they lost on their news programs. It was part of keeping your FCC license to fund journalism. We have seen the FCC be a tool for industry consolidation for some time now. Perhaps we need to hold those FCC licenses hostage to the public good once again.
Getting back to notion of journalism as a public good and not a profit center is part of clawing out of this mess. Journalists on TV don’t remember how to tell the truth, because they’ve been paid incredibly well not to for so long.
The more I write about what’s happening, the more I realize that if certain structural problems had been addressed, we wouldn’t be facing this down. The people who try to discuss these systemic issues aren’t treated particularly kindly. All this got me thinking about Colin Kaepernick and what he’s been put through for protesting police being allowed to kill unarmed people of color without consequences. I’ll be writing more about him in the coming weeks.
This piece I wrote a while ago explains some of why I’m so invested in his situation.
Thanks to everyone who signed up for my newsletter! It’s where I discuss what I’m mulling over and hope to write about down the line. It’s also where I’ll announce any news and upcoming projects first. If you’d like to, you can subscribe below!
Medium treats each comment as a separate story, which gets added to a writer’s list of articles. Comments also get queued up as a “Next story” and in other recommendations. This suppresses discoverability of the stories I spend time researching and thinking about. As a result, I made the decision that I wouldn’t respond directly to comments going forward. But I do want to engage with my readers and build a community. As a result, I created this weekly feature, where I respond to some of the comments I’ve received.