Lamar W. Hankins :
Donald Trump, white resentment, racism,
and a ‘great’ America

More than 40 years of racist actions and comments demonstrate what we normally call racism.

Donald Trump treatment cc

Donald Trump. Creative Commons image.

By Lamar W. Hankins | The Rag Blog | August 6, 2016

I have been aware of white resentment toward blacks since at least 1954, but this presidential election campaign brought back a memory from 1958, when I was in junior high school. I was active then in the Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF). During a discussion group one day, led by an adult youth leader from our church, we talked about race and race relations, though I don’t remember how we got on that topic.

The MYF leader worked at the Gulf Oil refinery in Port Arthur. Neither of the local refineries (the other one was Texaco) hired black employees then. The MYF leader argued against letting blacks work at the refinery because they would compete for his job. He did not want the competition. He had a family to support and would never favor any changes that might threaten his job. Though some of us challenged our leader about his clearly racist views, he saw nothing wrong with denying blacks such opportunities, which were a privilege that white people had, but not blacks.

Writing in The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof recently pointed out that Gallup polling done just five years after my MYF experience revealed that almost half of whites surveyed believed “that blacks had just as good a chance as whites of getting a job,” yet nothing about job opportunities for blacks had changed in those intervening years.

Kristof called this kind of thinking delusional.

A year earlier, polling had revealed that even more whites — 85% — believed that black children had just as good an opportunity “as white kids of getting a good education.” Kristof called this kind of thinking delusional. But worse, it also leads to much white resentment, feelings that Donald Trump has tapped into in his bid for the presidency.

Kristof explained another set of delusions:

Half of white Americans today say that discrimination against whites is as big a problem as discrimination against blacks. Really? That contradicts overwhelming research showing that blacks are more likely to be suspended from preschool, to be prosecuted for drug use, to receive longer sentences, to be discriminated against in housing, to be denied job interviews, to be rejected by doctors’ offices, to suffer bias in almost every measurable sector of daily life.

With so many whites nurturing their resentment of what they see as black intrusions into our society, and maintaining delusions about the difficulties that blacks still have, it is no wonder that Trump is polling well among whites. Trump is expected to get the votes of about 4/5ths of white evangelicals, who made up about 26% of voters in 2012. Among all white voters, Trump is polling around 55%. Whites should constitute about 70% of the 2016 electorate, which should give Trump about 38% of the vote from whites alone.

Much of white resentment and delusion
is caused by fear.

Much of white resentment and delusion is caused by fear — fear of the “other,” fear of the unknown, fear from racial stereotypes, fear from ignorance, fear from learned racism, fear of social group ostracism.

In 1962, I encountered this last source of fear. Our next door neighbor, a white man, had a brilliant mind for games, especially card games, dominoes, and chess. He knew of my interest in learning chess, as well as that of a friend who was black. He offered to teach us both how to play chess in his home. We had several chess lessons over the last six months before I left Port Arthur for college. During those lessons, his wife asked us to their house only at night after it was dark. She was concerned that other neighbors might see a black person entering or leaving their house in what was then a segregated neighborhood. They feared social ostracism, or worse.

Whether their fears were reality-based, we will never know, but to be afraid about associating with a black person had not occurred to me then. After all, we were just playing chess in the supposed “land of the free.” Later, I became aware of such fears and calculated them into my understanding of East Texas. As I became more involved with the civil rights movement after high school, I appreciated better the fear that was first demonstrated to me by my neighbors, who were decent people in every other way, but were products of their time and their environment.

To Trump, this African-American president cannot be legitimate.

Perhaps the same can be said of Trump, though it would be necessary to posit a case of arrested development for him when it comes to blacks. What other explanation than racial bias can explain Trump’s nearly seven-year campaign against Obama’s qualifications as a U.S. citizen, known as “birtherism.” The conspiracy that would have been required among hospital personnel, newspaper editors and publishers, officials with the state of Hawaii, federal officials, and Obama’s mother and maternal grandparents would have paled in comparison to the conspiracy required to fake the moon landing, yet there are some Trump followers who continue to insist Obama was not born in a Honolulu hospital. To Trump, this African-American president cannot be legitimate.

But Trump has a long history of racial bias and animus. In the 1970s, Trump and his father were sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for racial discrimination in housing they owned in New York City. Donald Trump was then president of the family’s real estate firm, which went so far as to code housing applications to show that the applicant was “colored” so that they would know to deny the applicant housing. Three years after the government settled that suit against the Trumps, it sued the Trumps again, for similar racial discrimination violations. Apparently, the Trumps thought that they were entitled to discriminate against blacks.

Trump fanned the flames of racial animus.

In 1989, after the infamous Central Park jogger rape and assault of a white woman, five teenagers — four black and one Hispanic — were charged with the crime. Trump fanned the flames of racial animus by taking out full page advertisements calling for the five to be put to death for their crimes, though they had not been convicted. Ultimately, they were all exonerated when a serial rapist whose DNA matched the evidence confessed, but not before the five spent between six and 13 years in prison.

According to the man who ran the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, Trump harbored some of the most vile racist attitudes toward blacks. Later, in an interview in Playboy magazine, Trump confirmed that he did harbor such views. Even today, he retweets racist comments by members of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, while denying that he is aware of prominent white supremacists such as David Duke (now a Republican candidate for the senate from Louisiana), and claiming that he is not the least bit racist.

More than 40 years of a record of racist actions and comments, many of which have been documented by Nicholas Kristof, demonstrate what we normally call racism.

I wonder if this is the time that Trump
wants to take us back to.

So, whenever I hear or see Trump’s slogan — “Make America Great Again” — I can’t help thinking back to those “great” days of the 1950s and early 1960s before we had the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act and the War on Poverty (poverty being a condition that affected more whites than blacks, however), and I wonder if this is the time that Trump wants to take us back to. Does he want to take us back to a time when fear, resentment, and delusional thinking defined the relationships between the races even more than it does now? Will that make us great again?

Judging from some of the statements he makes, it would not be unfair to conclude that the “Great” America of that time is the one he longs for. It was a time when racial slurs could be heard daily among whites, when blacks were denied access to motels and hotels, when amusement parks were for whites only, when public swimming pools did not admit blacks, when restaurants would not serve blacks except in the back of the kitchen, when most schools were still segregated based on the color of students’ skin, when blacks could not live in most neighborhoods, when blacks and whites could not marry one another.

People who identify with these groups are
firmly in Trump’s corner.

Trump’s rhetoric is driven in part by attitudes of white racial and cultural superiority that have led to the creation of the modern Ku Klux Klan, white nationalist groups, white supremacists, organizations that focus on what they call “race realism,” neo-nazis, white militias, and others focused on racist ideology. People who identify with these groups are firmly in Trump’s corner in the presidential race.

The ignorance of such people and their groups astounds me. Recently, I received from National Geographic’s Genographic Project an analysis of my DNA. My ancestry is much like that of most whites whose recent ancestors are from Europe. One of my grandfathers from nine generations ago came to North America around 1670 from England. My oldest ancestor, and the ancestor of us all, lived in Africa 180,000 years ago. About 67,000 years ago, one of my ancestors lived in East Africa.

In slightly more recent times, another ancestor (around 60,000 years ago) traveled north out of Africa across the Sinai Peninsula. Some of that person’s descendants lived in the Eastern Mediterranean region and Western Asia where they met up with Neanderthals, giving me, along with most people, a small amount of Neanderthal markers in my DNA. Others of my ancestors migrated into what is now Europe, including Scandinavia.

Genotyping is more complex than I have described. But the real significance of it is where it all began. All human beings descended from that woman living in what is now Africa some 180,000 years ago. All of this nonsense about race purity and superiority fails to mean anything when one considers that every person who has ever lived descended from an ancestor who lived originally in Africa. We are all Africans no matter what our modern-day prejudices may be or what we look like, which leads us back to Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again.”

Trump has never identified when America was “great” or greater than it now is. That is a question that should be put to him: What period of America’s greatness do you aspire to recreate, Mr. Trump? My fear is that the America of my youth is the one that Trump and many of his supporters long for. And that thought is even scarier than Donald Trump as president.


Read more articles by Lamar W. Hankins on The Rag Blog.

[Rag Blog columnist Lamar W. Hankins, a former San Marcos, Texas, City Attorney, also blogs at Texas Freethought Journal. This article © Texas Freethought Journal, Lamar W. Hankins.]

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7 Responses to Lamar W. Hankins :
Donald Trump, white resentment, racism,
and a ‘great’ America

  1. I keep thinking the 1840s. Not exact, of course. But I heard as late as 1985 from people in Cleburne, which is pronounced “wrong turn”. (: that quote ” these mixicans tell you they’re Injuns, but really what happened was they come up nawth here and stole our nigras and took them down and mixed with them and that’s why they’re called mixicans”. /quote.

    I like ascribing such to the poverty, black white and other in the region, long days cultivating crops or handling cattle. That they had little resources for education. Maybe it is. But it doesn’t excuse or really explain the prevalence of that story and many others. I would say that it’s better but it isn’t.

    We had a textbook in the 70s, still have it I suppose, “the Story of Texas” which was required history in 7th grade. For those who haven’t had the Texas experience, the Governor has the power to decide the public (and now private) education School Curriculum. So this must have been state wide. The usual southern cast on the history of the civil war, the causes thereof, (of course not slavery in any way) and that slavery was beneficial to the slaves. Yeah. 1973.

    I went to Ft Worth for a brief time two years ago. Had some court issues to take care of. Some acquaintances and some relatives referred to Obama as a nigger. While and at the same time that his race was not a factor in their hating him.

    But “muslim” is actually thought of as a respectable replacement for the n word. People talk even up here in Colorado about Muslim as a synonym for that and many other heinous acts of daring to not assimilate and just be white.

    It’s not just a Texas or Southern thing. We have neighbors (all of us) who are afraid of the almost smallest religious group in America.

    Mr Trump takes full advantage of it. And if he renounced racism today, there are plenty of his disciples who will pick up the banner. Already have.

    I sometimes long for a different time. Like maybe 40 years from now when people have put all this crap aside. I believe it’s a reachable goal. Please God don’t take us back to the past 40 years. Or further.

  2. Extremist2TheDHS says:

    Most on the right, long ago stopped giving a f#$@k about whatever labels are applied by the elitist, emasculated, boot-licking left and their sycophants in the media.

  3. Extremist2TheDHS says:

    However, it is the case that many on the right are racist without even realizing it. I had occasion to witness this first hand. There is a yard sign movement called “Blessed are the Peacemakers” with law enforcement playing the starring role of peacemakers. I entered into a facebook discussion about it where I objected to the signs hidden implication .. i..e if law enforcement are peacemakers, then groups like Black Lives Matters would be the “trouble makers”. I suggested it was great to show support for LEOs and condemn those who were out to kill officers for revenge. But felt the sign was sending a not too subtle message about justice activists and the BLM. I kept the discussion low key, non hostile, and conversational. Or at least I tried. It wasnt long before the racists came out of the woodwork to put their racist tendencies on full display. Honestly I was surprised. I love discussion and debate and intellectual disagreement. But they were having none of that. It was just full on “We love the cops and hate the blacks”. It was a sobering moment for me. I didnt really expect that from a group of middle class, educated, people. Maybe I am naive.

    • OMG, a light is beginning to dawn — yes, friend, you may be naïve. This is a big part of the disagreements that you and I and other Rag Bloggers have had, imho. You keep thinking the American Dream is alive and well…

      • Extremist2TheDHS says:

        I feel like i just woke up from taking the red pill.

        I guess a lot of people in my situation go along to get along.

        Most of my friends dont share my viewpoint and some are outright hostile that I would even make he points I’m making. I didnt defend the BLM behavior, but I said I understood the anger that that has grown generation after generation in poor urban communities from unfair and abusive policing practices.

        I suppose If one is not confident in his/her ideas and can’t express themselves well, its very likely most of my circle of friends just keep their mouth shut to stay out of the line of fire.

      • Extremist2TheDHS says:

        Mariann,
        I do think some of the Rag Bloggers also need a red pill (or two). While most of the progressive crowd bemoans the 1% and wealth inequality, they at the same time promote unrestrained migration. Illegal Immigrants, who are mostly low skilled workers, compete with and drive down the wages of American low skilled workers, exacerbating the inequality. The suggestion that I hear from Rag Bloggers to fix this obvious illogical stance, involves … replacing capitalism. Creating a workers paradise .. sort of like we see in Venezuela today.

        I note that many of those who contribute articles here are lawyers, , doctors, educators, judges, and other professionals. I suspect that Rag Bloggers might sing a different tune on illegal immigration if the immigrants were lawyers, , doctors, educators, and judges … and the wages these authors drew from their work went down by 75%. They might find it less “wonderful” if they had to live wtih the consequences of their policy positions.

        That is common complaint I have with the left and Rag Bloggers in particular. They seem to know whats best for everyone else, as long as they get special treatment and are exempt from the changes the seek to make for everyone else.

  4. We had a protest of the Blue Lives Matter which is an answer to BLM. Denver cops who have blown away just as many Blacks as Dallas cops have in the past decade. Just a year beyond that decade, 2005, cops in Aurora went on a raid looking for a probation violator. Who wasn’t home.

    They shot his uncle instead, and charged the nephew because somehow his not being at home caused to shoot his paraplegic uncle. Who died.

    In Dallas I notice the Morning News wrote an editorial about a slaying in 1985. Etta Collins. The cops, whose Blue Lives Matter More (they should be more obvious of their bias) who had xray vision and somehow saw a gun through a wood door, got away with it. I remembered it since it happened. I was in El Paso at the time but most of my family were in Arlington and Euless.

    I consider it a mark of progress that the Dallas Media would cover something like that to begin with and that happened so long ago, in response to BLM protest. Sometimes they surprise me and I start thinking there is hope.

    Maybe I’m naive. I know I’m autistic and it colors my perceptions. But I practically survive on not much more than serendipity. It’s eerie if I think about it. Letting go and allowing the universe to run its course takes the eerie away and leaves the ?coincidence, who knows? but the right things happening at the right time with no advance planning.

    Sometimes the ignorance that makes up hate is ignorance of the true laws of nature. Underfunded schools do make up a lot of it, though. And a culture which derides education as being somehow weakness. And an MBA isn’t a guarantee the person holding it has learned a damn thing about other people.

    There was a suggestion from ’81 when I worked a bit for ACORN in Ft Worth, that if only teachers got paid as much as star athletes. But as my Dad always said, if a frog had wings he wouldn’t bump his rump at every jump.

    Guess we’ll make it, or not, without any ideal conditions. And it probably won’t make much sense to wait for those conditions before starting the chore of teaching love.

    The banners and placards aren’t the full measure of protest or rebuilding either way. If you managed to speak to the offenders softly or at least without haranguing them, you got my usual response beat all hollow. It’s a seed that grows and sprouts up in unlikely places.

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