The events of last week were quite shocking to say the least. Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, defeated Democratic nominee, Secretary Hillary Clinton, for the position of the President of the United States. If there is a person alive in the United States who has somehow made it this long without hearing about some of the good and bad factors for both candidates, they surely wouldn’t think much of this election as such a system has been running in America for centuries.
To most of us, however, this election has been especially stressful as the controversies regarding both candidates have seeped into every aspect of daily life. Families have been torn, friendships have dissolved, and even entire communities have become somewhat more separated. Tensions such as these have become easily observable in the days following the election with protests and rallies sparking around the country, causing even more division.
In particular, racial tensions have surfaced and are the underlying root of certain issues over the past year. Especially in the presidential election last week, racism has become an ever-present problem within America as many voters focused on Donald Trump’s history of racist comments, his endorsements from white-supremacy groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, and the ongoing trials for racial discrimination that Trump faces as immediately discrediting him for the role of the president of the United States. Despite these accusations and charges, Donald Trump still won the election.
With these accusations Donald Trump faced while running for President, how did he pull it off? How does the country that has been labeled the “leader of the free world” elect the candidate that shows blatant racism, sexism and xenophobia? Quite simply, it is by two reasons; white supremacy is still an institutionalized factor within the U.S. and whites have so much privilege that they can afford to be ignorant of these monstrosities.
In this context, when I say white supremacy, I don’t mean the idea that whites are innately better than other races, I’m referring to the concept that white privilege is so deeply rooted within society that whites are dominant over other races in various fields. This is very easy to prove by the results of this election; according to CNN, almost 60 percent of whites voted in favor of Donald Trump while hardly even 20 percent of all minorities voted in support of him. This data is particularly problematic as whites make up 70 percent of the entire U.S. population meaning that, merely mathematically, it would be entirely possible for whites to overpower all minorities combined politically. Although we cannot say that all whites voted for Trump or vice versa, the fact that so many minorities were against Donald Trump and his aggressively racist rhetoric and the U.S. still elected him goes to show that popular support from White America is the key to winning an election as well as silencing and muting the vote of minorities.
What should we make of this data? To say that everyone who voted for Donald Trump is a racist, homophobic, sexist is to commit the logical fallacy of composition; just because some members of a group might express certain qualities does not mean that all members of the group are as such. However, there is something to be said about the individuals who would respond as to why they voted for Trump with, “Well yeah, he says some bad things, but he’s a lot more trustworthy than Killary”. The fact that so many individuals as such are willing to simply overlook racism, xenophobia, sexism and homophobia is quite disturbing.
Innately, to be able to look over issues as such means that either you are ignorant of their existence within society or you understand that they do not affect you, so you don’t care. If it is the case that American society truly does not know about the still existent struggle of racial division as well as the embedded disadvantage minorities face in society, then it would seem that we as a country desperately need to make advances in education so that we might be able to approach these issues. On the other hand, I hypothesize that a good bit of people who chose to ignore the issues surrounding Donald Trump did so, possibly subconsciously, as they know that his remarks and potential attitudes will not be oppressive to them. Outside of morality (which I would hope is still existent within society), what reason does a straight person have to care about how a politician feels about the LGBT community?
The horrendous truth which hides within modern America that I have come to realize as I get older is that people like myself (straight, white, males) are at an advantage to those who do not fall into such categorization. As such, what tears at me the most about our new President Elect is not that I fear he will make policy-based strides against me personally, rather, I feel sorrow for all of my friends who do not classify as such; other genders (binary and nonbinary), racial minorities, LGBT, persons of non-Christian faith, and others. The United States has utterly silenced these groups in this election as well as is disregarding all the progress that President Obama has made for them by electing the candidate we have. For this institutionalized oppression, as a straight, white man, I cannot adequately express my sorrow and pain.
– Austin Falin