On Racism, Rhetoric, and Respect

A couple of weeks ago, as we were coming back onto the grid from a time in the forest, I tapped into the latest news to catch up on the political atmosphere of this bizarre period of American democracy. I entered the woods discontent with the current state of affairs, and found little had changed in the meantime. I thought I would write an essay about my thoughts, and came up with the immediate title. However for the last week or so I have struggled, as having earmarked three ideals, I wasn’t finding inspiration to speak to racism.

I am white, and in the past when writing to this reality in our lives, I have been told that part of my obstacle is that I have not experienced the direct discrimination of people of color in my own life, and of course, that is very true. At the same time, I feel comfortable in my knowledge of knowing it exists having witnessed account after account of friends, colleagues, strangers and certainly students being taught rejection and hate because of the color of their skin.

Over the past year, as I have watched this candidate in my own words raise the dead with a diatribe of racist and hateful remarks, I have been quite appalled by how society seems to buy into his rhetoric. As I have discussed it with my wife, I have been always clear to suggest that only a certain population is responding to the remarks, and not to worry, when the general election occurs, he will be buried by the opposing candidate’s prowess. Today, we all know the risks that exist with either candidate, so although my predictions remain true in my mind, it is increasingly difficult to find anything positive about this year’s election process.

However, on the initial point of racism, in recent days, the GOP candidate has clearly provided much inspiration toward why I am compelled to speak on the issue. Long before this week’s shakeup in the leadership of his campaign management we have endured the commentary, ‘my African-American’,’the Mexican judge’,’the terrorist born in the United States’, the refusal to accept an NAACP invitation to speak, the deceptive nature of speaking before primarily Caucasian audiences on the plight of African-American struggles, notwithstanding the building of a wall, disregard for the Latino community, ugliness shared toward women that fail to meet his standard.

This long list of misconstrued but certainly pointed commentary has been the basis for his ridiculous platform, and along the way, he has woken the dead, his supporters, and his growing base of popularity is chock full of white-supremacy, misogyny, discrimination, through the support of people in power who present a frightening testament of the explosive and hateful nature of a divisive society.

The absurd rhetoric of this campaign is frightening in its nature. I’ve spoken about the comparison to President Nixon’s ‘law and order’ campaign decades ago, and that has been familiar throughout this year’s candidate’s platform; however, there is far greater danger to what is being bandied about today. To suggest to a populace, ‘What the hell have you got to lose’ as reason to garner his vote, along with an incredulous speech that demeans and offends everything the African-American society has fought to represent in today’s modern society is a remarkable travesty. More than ever, today we have all the signs necessary to continue the road toward an open-minded populace rather than allow bigotry to garner a foundation in our nation’s leadership.

This commentary certainly represents no solution, only a desire to raise awareness in this the most destructive campaign season I have ever experienced in my adult life. Inside the oft-handed rhetoric delivered by both candidates, there is a growing sense of loss of integrity, loss of respect toward the human beings in our world that are in such need to be recognized. Just watch any media – clearly this is not that argument – outlet and witness the hostilities that immediately rise in any roundtable discussions of both candidate’s deficiencies.

We as a society need to wake up, and rather than let them guide us backward, continue to raise our own awareness and recognize the immediate danger of self-directed rhetoric that wreaks of hatred and bigotry. We’ve worked too hard to bury the tenets of Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, the list certainly goes on forever. We need to understand that though there are no true party politics happening in this election, we cannot no matter how much we disagree with the other option, allow this man to be elected as our next president.

Please raise your consciousness people, and do the right thing.

 

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