People of color know about the ever-present danger of pending violence
“The growth of these movements is more or less a direct result of the election of Barack Obama and what it represents. And what it represents is the coming disappearance of a white majority in the United States. We are living through a serious backlash, and people will die as a result.” – Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Law enforcement authorities in the U.S. have publicly admitted for the first time that they have long overlooked the rise of far-right extremism for decades and now they don’t know how to stop it, a report from MSNBC said. In the meantime, President Donald Trump has given military troops orders to shoot to kill innocent migrants at the southern border, mostly mothers with children.
Further, CNN reports that investigators have found there is a credible link between South Africa’s far-right white supremacist organization and Americans.
People of color have always known the ever-present danger of pending violence because we’re the ones who see it, feel it and experience it. White people of America can’t relate because they have no clue what it feels like to be the brunt of prejudice and bigotry. Now real hatred comes explicitly from the mind and lips of America’s leader. Donald Trump has no clue.
Racism didn’t just start somewhere recently. It is the institutionalized hallmark of America’s founding fathers who themselves were slave owners and had visions of settling the American west but the Native Americans were in the way. And along came people like General George Armstrong Custer who volunteered to rid the land of these original people by killing them off.
It has always been my contention that racism and bigotry is a mental illness that should be listed in the bible of mental health experts – DSM IV – the codes of classification found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision, also known as DSM-IV-TR, a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association that includes all currently recognized mental health disorders. As such, I also contend that it is treatable.
White supremacists wrap themselves in the American flag and readily claim they are being “patriotic” and love their country. Making America great again, like Trump crudely preaches every chance he gets, is the brass ring all of his followers reach for in this day and age. Even middle of the road whites often have little choice but to join the march toward an all-white America. Of course, that’s a dream that will never happen. Yet some of the dreamers have gone to extreme lengths to make it happen – on the political side we have come to know it as voter suppression. And Trump has tried to ban people of color from becoming a part of the American scene.
Some white nationalists have already killed people of color with guns within the past several years. Our law enforcement agencies are scratching their heads over it, all the while seeking to diminish the stench of violence by refusing to call these killers terrorists. Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white supremacist said after he shot and killed 9 African Americans at a Charleston church in South Carolina... “I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed."
Hate crime laws in the United States are state and federal laws intended to protect against hate crimes motivated by anger against a protected class of persons. Although state laws vary, current statutes permit federal prosecution of hate crimes committed on the basis of a person's [race](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(classification_of_human_beings%29), religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. The U.S. Department of Justice as well as campus security authorities are required to collect and publish hate crime statistics. Yet we often see public servants dragging their feet, ignoring signs of pending doom, not only for minority groups, but for all Americans as well.
What’s happening in America won’t impact just brown and black people, but everyone else as well. Racial violence will affect all of us.
I have always believed that people of color should not be expected to stand against racism and bigotry by themselves. We are simply not politically strong enough and we have always been outnumbered and out voted. Not only are we fighting against white supremacists, we are in close combat with our own political enemies – mainly some leaders and members of the Republican party and their followers who readily identify with extremists.
Just as there will never be an all-white America, people of color will always be here. That cannot be stopped, no matter how many bullets are fired.
John Tetpon, Inupiaq, is a longtime Alaska journalist, musician and artist. His email: firstname.lastname@example.org