The United States is Racist... Even Without Trump

This year, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many other victims of police brutality sparked long overdue conversations about racism in America for many white people. Many of us began to shift the way that we use social media to better utilize our platforms to advocate for social justice. Social media is messy, and social media activism has proven to be no exception. A lot of well-intentioned young people, like myself, are trying to find and use their voice in the political process. In addition to the informative, insightful content that I scroll through every day, I also see a lot of well-intentioned users sharing posts that are less helpful and at times, superficial. Both types of content frequently revolve around Donald Trump. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it illuminates an issue that extends far beyond social media.

Many of us white, “woke” liberals have the privilege to learn about racism vicariously, rather than being forced to live it. As a result, many of us are relatively new to anti-racist work and are not used to having open dialogues about race. Donald Trump consistently engages in egregious, divisive dog whistling; he unapologetically empowers and emboldens bigotry and hatred. His rhetoric makes it easy to put Trump at the core of many racism discussions. As prevalent as this trend is on my Instagram feed, it is unique to neither young people nor social media - I see it everywhere. Although it can be simpler to talk about racism in the context of Trump, we cannot conflate racism with Donald Trump. Our country was racist before Trump, and it will be racist after Trump. When systemic problems like racism are primarily discussed in the context of Trump, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.

This election provided an important glimpse of reality: Donald Trump is not a fluke. Trump is a reflection of our country, not the other way around. Because after four years of overt bigotry, racism, misogyny, homophobia, dishonesty, and corruption, over 71 million Americans wanted four more years. Not only do these Americans tolerate Donald Trump, they actually prefer him. This is a heavy, emotionally draining truth. But removing Trump from office will not rid our country of everything that he represents. Advocacy does not start or end with a presidential vote - the energy that so many put into hating Donald Trump cannot be limited to just Donald Trump. We must continue the urgent, necessary effort to create a more just America that comes closer to providing liberty and justice for all. We must continue to put in the work.