It is the word that the so-called president of the United States used to describe the city of Baltimore while attacking Congressman Elijah Cummings. Trump wrote on his official Twitter account: “Cummings’ district is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous and filthy place. No human being would want to live there.”
Victor Blackwell, a CNN journalist, later recounted the disturbing pattern of the use of the word when Trump is talking of persons not socially colored white. Blackwell is in tears at the end. Baltimore is his hometown. There are human being there that he knows and loves.
Infestation. Such an interesting choice of words. Of all the words at Trump’s disposal, he chooses this one again and again. It harkens back to Nazi Germany and its use of propaganda to re-create the Jewish people as the enemy. Its leaders chose this word too. This word is on the side of extermination.
We would do well to stamp out its use.
Persons who would employ the term or speak indifferently about its use are not students of history and have not considered the danger of having a full circle moment. Author and activist, James Baldwin wrote in an essay titled “On Being White… And Other Lies,” “… America has paid the highest and most extraordinary price for becoming white.” Who one has to reject and how often the distance between us and them must be created in order to be accepted into this exclusive community is incalculable. But, also, how far removed one is from their true self.
White is a lie. There is no being in it and no belonging for any culture of the world. Baldwin says, “America became white– the people who, as they claim, ‘settled’ the country became white– because of the necessity of denying the black presence, and justifying black subjugation. No community can be based on such a principle– or, in other words, no community can be established on so genocidal a lie.” No human beings can live here.
Infestation. It’s more than a word. It is the subtle suggestion of an act so egregious but necessary for the protection of the lie of whiteness. And it is no little white lie for millions of lives are a stake.