Week 12

“Make America Great Again”

The current presidential election coverage in the media has shown a disappointing lack of progress in racism. This is primarily due to the narrative of the presidential campaigns produced by media, specifically Donald Trump, who has had directed many media narratives favoring white supremacy.

The best way to uncover how media narratives cover Trump’s campaign in relation to white privilege and white supremacy is by evaluating Trump’s main slogan, “Make America Great Again.” It is a common campaign slogan used by politicians, such as the 40th white president Ronald Reagan, and most recently, the 2016 presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Who is Trump making the promise to “Make America Great Again” to? This statement implies that America use to be great back in the day, but the truth is the past wasn’t all that great. In comparison to President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, “Change we can believe in,” Obama’s slogan implies that American did need change. So, the first serious African-American presidential candidate America has ever had believed we needed change, and now we have Donald Trump pushing to revert that change and restore America to when it was supposedly great again.

America has barely made any headway in terms of racial progress, past or present. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva in Racism without Racists explains how Americans, Whites in particular, are in denial about the reality of racial issues. He wrote, “Most whites believe that if blacks and other minorities would just stop thinking about the past, work hard, and complain less (particularly about racial discrimination), then Americans of all hues could “all get along” (Silva, 2009, p. 1). If this notion were true, shouldn’t Donald Trump be endorsing an idea of a better future rather than trying to bring back the “old” America?

In a Huffington Post article titled, “Donald Trump: When the Media Flirts With White Supremacy,” it goes into detail about the concept of the term “birther,” and the underlying context that “black Americans were not meant to inherit American citizenship by birth.” This term relates to the huge issue concerning President Obama’s citizenship and in 2011, Trump was asked whether or not he believed the president was born in America, Trump’s answer was that he can’t be sure about Obama’s citizenship, but he can definitely prove he was himself. His answer gives the impression that he’s been in America all his life; he belongs here, but why, because he’s White? This idea of “birthers” is relevant to the belief that white people are not racially seen and named because they are just simply the human race. There has been instances of him asserting superiority over another race when he become a central figure in racial controversy due to comments like, Mexican immigrants are “rapists” and criminals and his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. Trump’s many comments over the past few months suggests that America is not great due to the people of color occupying this country which is why he is trying reinforce the idea of making it great once again by returning the country back to the “humans.” Silva writes, “How is it possible to have this tremendous degree of racial inequality in a country where most whites claim that race is no longer relevant? (Silva, 2009, p. 2),” the answer is – race is relevant, just as white supremacy and white privilege is relevant.

Trump never exactly specifies a moment in history when America was “great,” but I can’t recall a time when this country was “great” place to live as a citizen of color compared to the progress we’ve made now. A passage in The Matter of Whiteness reads, “The media, politics, education are still in the hands of white people, still speak for whites while claiming – and sometimes sincerely aiming – to speak for humanity” (Dyer, pg. 11), the underlying notion is that being white is being human and this secures a position of power. Trump has consistently been pushing for an immigration policy or deportation policy against Latinos, imagine the impact that would have on so many lives and even the economy but Trump’s think this would be a saving grace away. This is coming from a white privileged perspective because his solution to “Make America Great Again” has been nothing but needless proposals to remove every race in America except White people, who are apparently just “humans” (Dyer, pg.11),

Donald Trump’s slogan supports this statement, “…in Western representation whites are overwhelmingly and disproportionately predominant, have the central and elaborated roles, and above all are placed as the norm, the ordinary, the standard (Dyer, pg.11),” and that’s how he wants America to continue. If elected, Trump’s attempt to restore America to its former ways would not be in the favor of people of color but rather the white privileged society, more so than it already is.

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Monolithic Anything

 

During Week 6: Native American Representations, I talked about how popular literature at the time used the notion of the “monolithic Indian” to throw Native Americans of all different tribes into an abstract and generalized bunch. This strategy was effective in robbing all Native Americans of their true identities, culture, and autonomy. This dangerous idea basically made North America easy prey for white Manifest Destiny. This cultural genocide was validated by the fact that popular literature painted the Native Americans as treacherous, blood thirsty, savage, sub-human, and since “all Indians are the same,” then by logical extension, they must all be a threat too. This stereotypical “Indianness” was used to systematically silence an entire population, who at the time, were the majority on this continent, so it’s no surprise that White America is mortified by the notion of “whiteness,” the current social movement to define whiteness, and the challenging of white privilege from all fronts.

In Dyer’s “The Matter of Whiteness,” he informs us that, “This assumption that white people are just people, which is not far from saying that whites are people whereas other colors are something else, is endemic to white culture. Some of the sharpest criticism of it has been aimed at those who would think themselves the least racist or white supremacist. Bell Hooks, for instance, has noticed how amazed and angry white liberals become when attention is drawn to their whiteness, when they are seen by non-white people as white. Whites are everywhere in representation. Yet precisely because of this and their placing as norm they seem not to be represented to themselves as white but as people who are variously gendered, classed, sexualized, and abled. While speaking of racial representation, in other words, whites are not of a certain race, they’re just the human race” (Dyer, 10). This logic is the exact same thought process that was robbed from the Native Americans, African Americans, and any other mistreated minority throughout our country’s history. The first step to making an ethnicity disappear (or to take away its power) is to strip its cultural identity. Racial categorization, just like that which was used against groups like the Native Americans and African Americans, serves to place race first, and human status second. That’s why White America is so scared of the idea of whiteness to gain traction. For such a generalization to take root would threaten the white supremacy in the very fabric of our country and bring about the end to white privilege.

To represent all cultures as “just human” first, and as a race group second is an entitlement that all cultural identities should have been afforded from the very beginning of our nation’s birth, but they weren’t. In order to correct this, white supremacy must be challenged, questioned, and destabilized. Whiteness, as surprising as it may be, does not monopolize being human, but it will continue to attempt to. It will continue to death roll in rebellion for White America knows that to be the minority (or perceived minority) in America is quite possibly the most disadvantageous and life threatening social position to find yourself  and your ethnic group in. America does not need a cultural genocide or white purge, but what America does need to do is to see all ethnic groups, no matter how different, as equally human first, and as ethnic groups second. This is a white luxury that has been monopolized for far too long and should instead be a human privilege.

-Edgar Nava

White Privilege and Donald Trump’s Campaign

Donald Trump
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally, Tuesday, June 16, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

With one of the most ferocious presidential races happening right before our eyes, Donald Trump’s campaign stops nothing short of extraordinary. With his flagrant personality and unfiltered mouth, Trump’s campaign is teeming with white privilege. The platform on which Trump’s campaign relies heavily upon is that of his anti-immigration policies against Mexicans and Muslims. The beginning of Trumps campaign started with his unrestrained views on Mexican immigration and his plan to build “a wall.” Threatening deportation of millions of immigrants, Trumps campaign excludes any person of color, in an almost white supremacist type of way.

Trump’s policy on Mexican and Latin American immigration shows major undertones of his racist ways. Labeling all Mexicans as criminals and rapists, Trump lumps a whole culture and race together in an extremely negative and derogatory stereotype. He associates one type of people with crime and drugs, all based upon stereotypes often portrayed in the media. When Trump says these disparaging things he is further engraining these types of ideas into peoples minds. He is strengthening ideas that people of color are connoted with crime and drugs. Thus saying, that ultimately, White people are a more supreme race because they are not associated with these types of negative imagery.

When speaking about President Obama, the nation’s first African American president, Trump labels him as not one of us. But  Trumps meaning of “us” is white America, not the diverse nation as a whole. Trump then calls out Obama’s legitimacy as an American by questioning his birthplace and therefore questioning his rightful merit of the presidency. Trump would have never questioned another mans legitimacy as president had that person person been white. While technically, almost all Americans are immigrants in this country, except for Native Americans, who happen to also be people of color, not white. “When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is” (McIntosh, Pg.2). Much of America’s history has been dominated by the white scope. The accomplishments made have all been accredited to those of mostly European decent. While immigration of the founding fathers may have been before the immigration of certain groups that have a darker complexion, those of European decent, including Trump and his ancestors, are all immigrants no matter what history books might have to say about it. Much of history is painted in the white view on accounts of white accomplishments, leaving others to look as if they have done nothing in the making of this country. Having the privilege of white skin allows Trump to disregard the fact that we are all immigrants into this country, while only labeling those who may look different as outsiders.

Trumps anti-Muslim campaign is also very controversial due to his stance on immigration. Planning to ban all Muslim’s coming into the United States, Trump also is an advocate for surveillance of Muslims already in the country. Both of these things, if taken into effect, are extremely unconstitutional and go against all that America was built upon; the idea of the American Dream and freedom. Yet under Trumps ideals, these things can only be accessed to those who are not people of color, they have to be handed on a silver platter. How much of Trumps life was spent, with white privilege. “But since the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Arabs and Muslims, two groups virtually unknown to most Americans prior to 2001, now hold the dubious distinction of being the first new communities of suspicion after the hard-won victories of the civil rights era.” (Bayoumi, pg. 3) Since 9/11, Muslims have been seen as the enemy and Trump’s campaign does not stop short in instilling those ideas among the American people. He often denounces them even as human beings, in a way that almost resembles Hitler’s anti-Jewish policies. In doing so, Trump promotes the idea that Whites are better, and could never commit such a heinous act as Muslim terrorists do. But Trump does not understand that they cannot be confined to one stereotype of an extremist group, as Christians are not confined to all the ideas of the KKK, a notoriously Christian group.


Works Cited

Moustafa Bayoumi, “Preface,” in How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America. Penguin, 2009.

McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”

 

Week 12: The Meaning of Whiteness

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“The silences and denials surrounding privilege are the key political tool here. They keep the thinking about equality or equity incomplete, protecting unearned advantage and conferred dominance by making these taboo subjects. Most talk by whites about equal opportunity seems to me now to be about equal opportunity to try to get into a position of dominance while denying that systems of dominance exist.” (McIntosh, Peggy. 1989. Pg. 5)


I chose this picture because it shows the true colors of white privilege. Hamilton, the musical, had an open casting call for women aged 20’s and 30’s and non white. Some deemed this to be racist. While many people of color are left out everyday during casting calls all around, the minute a white person is left out they feel that it is not right and that everyone should be equal. Often denying white privilege even exists, this just shows how much it actually does. Feeling threatened by the loss of one musical, white people feel that their dominance in the acting world may just be slipping away with this one loss of a call. While they often call for equal opportunity among all races, the minute a white person is left out it is racist, while things like this happen to people of color all the time!

How Dare You?

“This assumption that white people are just people, which is not far from saying that whites are people whereas other co lours are something else, is endemic to white culture. Some of the sharpest criticism of it has been aimed at those who would think themselves the least racist or white supremacist. Bell Hooks, for instance, has noticed how amazed and angry white liberals become when attention is drawn to their whiteness, when they are seen by non-white people as white. Often their rage erupts because they believe that all the ways of looking that highlight difference subvert the liberal belief in a universal subjectivity (where are all just people) that they think will make racism disappear. They  have a deep emotional investment in the myth of ‘sameness’, even as their actions reflect the primacy of whiteness as a sign of informing who they are and how they think. (Hooks 1992; 167)” – Chapter 1, “The Matter of Whiteness” By Richard Dyer

The very fundamental belief that we’re all the same, are afforded the same opportunities, and are judged exclusively by our moral character in this “post racial America” is quickly destroyed by the fact that white privilege and the subconscious and conscious societal preference for “whiteness” is a real issue plaguing our society. To deny the existence of “whiteness” and white privilege is the mental equivalent of  shoving your head into the sand like an ostrich. To deny the existence of a problem in delusion isn’t the same as not having a problem to begin with.

-Edgar Nava