White supremacy is complex. It is not as simple as saying that there are bigots in the U.S. and that these are the people that put Trump into power (although they did help). White supremacy is complex because you don’t have to be white or a bigot to support it.
Internalized racism is when a person of color internalizes the racial stereotypes they experience in society and replicate them (fit the stereotype given by society) (Jones, 2000). Psychologists refer to this as a self-fulfilling prophecy (Willard, & Madon, 2016). Once a person of color has taken in the dominant narrative that they are violent or lazy they may choose to refuse this. However, this narrative may affect them to feel hopeless in their efforts. This is what leads some of them to adhere to the stereotypes they are presented with.
A good example of this was when Trump said that Mexico was sending there worse to the U.S. He then went on to call Mexican Immigrants rapists and drug runners. As offensive as this may sound some Mexican Americans voted for him. Although in general Trump had the lowest amount of minority votes in 40 years, it still means that some minorities internalized the racism he portrayed and helped perpetuate it.
Now I don’t want to give Trump that much credit. Racism was living strong, way before he ran for office. But his racist comments threw fuel on the racial fire if you will. While visiting California from Japan, I had a few people (mostly white folk) tell me that:
“Since minorities voted for Trump it must mean that this election wasn’t about race”
The concept of internalized racism explains this phenomenon. Also in social science statistics, we don’t draw conclusions from anything less then 60%, otherwise this is not statistically significant (Falk, 1986). You can imagine my frustration explaining this to people that have never studied statistics (especially those that looked at a few websites and said they did research before the election).
How is the racial climate in California?
Well from my perspective things could have been worse. But this didn’t mean that they were all that great. I heard many narratives that verified my concerns about racial tensions. One of my friends (Black Male) related to me that since Trump was elected he has been called the N word a handful of times in the past two weeks. I also heard stories of fistfights breaking out between Trump Supporters and people of color over racial slurs. There was also an increase in hate crimes that were committed in San Diego after the election. So even though San Diego takes pride in being progressive, things were still a bit tense to say the least. I can only imagine how things are going in the red states down the middle.
Before I came out to California I posted on Facebook that I didn’t want to talk about politics to anyone (especially if they voted for Trump). I did pretty good and walked away whenever white folks start ranting and raving that America wanted change. I didn’t engage. I listened and remembered, which is why I wrote this article.
The reason I didn’t engage is because it would take hours to explain how race played a large role in this election. I find it interesting that I had no problem talking to Bernie supporters (I voted third party but that didn’t seem to bother them). But the few people that are in my circle that supported the outcome were too angry to reason with. It’s funny that they were angry even after their candidate won.
After some further questions I discovered that most of them didn't even vote. They were just voicing their opinions about a process they didn't take part in. However, this is not surprising considering the fact that 57% of eligible voters did not participate in this election.
Previous Studies and Relative Topics
Another observation I made was how most people of color in my circle stopped talking about politics around Trump Voters (which I will coin as people who voted for Trump and unconsciously supported white supremacy). I have yet to meet “out of the closet” Trump Supporters (which I will coin as the racists that wear the hats and are spewing racial slurs about president Obama). But it was interesting that the friends I have, that voted for Trump, wanted me to make this distinction, they would tell me:
“ I’m not a Trump supporter but ……(insert slightly racist comment here)”
I find this interesting because it reminded me of the comments that were made in a racial relations study in 2006 (Bonilla-Silva, 2006). Only exception was that the participants in that study said racist instead of Trump supporters.
At the end of the day my friends and I would wait for the Trump Voters to leave the room, then, when we felt safe, started talking about our fears of a Trump presidency. As one Tweet I read put it:
“I understand that not all of the people that voted for Trump are racist. But you did decide that racist statements are not a deal breaker for you.”
Under these circumstances I have chosen to keep a watchful eye over this administration. It is still too early to tell (but the writing on the wall is definitely there). As I have been posting lately:
“I’m hoping for the best and preparing for the worse”
For all my friends that are directly affected by this election I stand in solidarity with you. Brace yourselves because winter is coming.
Social Gelo with Angelo
Angelo Ferrer (M.S. Psychology)
Bonilla-Silva, E. (2006). Racism without racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Falk, R. (1986). Misconceptions of statistical significance. Journal of structural learning.
Jones, C. P. (2000). Levels of racism: a theoretic framework and a gardener's tale. American journal of public health, 90(8), 1212.
Willard, J., & Madon, S. (2016). UNDERSTANDING THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECIES AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS. Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Expectancies, 117.