From crowd size to the coronavirus (also known as COVID19), this administration has not told the truth. Some say we are now post- truth . But I cannot get past the truth that there are those who are buying whatever President Trump is selling— no matter the cost. This is what happens when you hire a businessman to do a president’s job.
Still, it is not so simple. In fact, I have been thinking long and hard about the eleven pardons Mr. Trump offered. They were guilty of “white collar crimes.” White. Collar. Crimes. Why are we coloring crime?
Slapping the wrists of some and giving the others time, depending on the level of melanin in their skin is an old American tradition. Ian Haney Lopez writes in White By Law: The Legal of Construction of Race, “Appearances and origins are not White or non- White in any natural or pre-social way. Rather, White is a figure of speech, a social convention read from looks.”
Big Bill Broonzy sang,
“This little song that I’m singin’ about,
People, you all know that it’s true,
If you’re black and gotta work for livin’,
Now, this is what they will say to you,
They says: “If you was white, You’s alright,
If you was brown, Stick around,
But if you’s black, oh, brother,
Get back, get back, get back.”
This tune is in complete harmony with the facts. This is the color of the law in America. But it is more than that and warrants our naming.
When whiteness and socially colored white people are created alongside a system of supposed checks and balances and this identity no longer represents either, then persons in power will destroy the institutions rather than transform themselves.
When whiteness and socially colored white people are created alongside media that harnesses hatreds, exaggerates the appearances and lies about the natural abilities of African and later African American people on screen and in print while lifting up the holy white other as the shining example and beacon, it is no wonder then that President Donald Trump would call media reports “fake news” when he is portrayed negatively and with words stereotypically reserved for African Americans. He cannot be called a liar when whiteness is considered the gospel truth.
No, we have good white people.
They are larger than life and larger than the lives of all other people. They are our tabula rasa. If only we were white, we would have a clean slate, be given a second chance– no matter the charge. They are always bigger than what they have done.
They are never truly all that bad. My African and African American ancestors would say that they know about this other side of whiteness, those who steal people and suggest that it was better than to be left alone and in their home country, that their bodies were better for the colonizer’s business rather than minding their own business, who employed sacred texts to do the devil’s work of oppressing and squeezing every bit of dignity out of a human life, who lie about the meaning of other human beings’ lives in order to make theirs more meaningful, who tell themselves and others that God left them in charge, that they are the chosen ones.
We are witnessing the double consciousness of whiteness in the presidency of Mr. Donald Trump and his supporters in the government and on the ground: oppressor and upstanding citizen, bad person and good Christian, incredible liar and credible witness.
We are watching elected officials do and say anything to protect the image of whiteness. Mr. Trump can never really do anything wrong. They have an excuse for every accusation, an explanation for every egregious display of power and abuse, a dismissal of every persuasive claim, a justification for every absurd decision. Because he can do what the wants. He is the law.
“He is well within his right.” “He didn’t mean it.” “He was only joking.” “But what about what the Democrats did?” They sound like the parents who don’t want to hear anything bad about their child. But we all know our children, what they are capable of and are guilty of doing.
A president of the United States is called “a petulant child.” The association alone is jarring. Both toddler and tyrant, he has shown what he is willing to do if he doesn’t get his way. And they don’t want to upset Donald Trump.
Just give him what he wants. Just nod your head and smile. This is the American government? This is what persons who represent all Americans do on our behalf though certainly not at everyone’s request.
This is not what we expect from any American president– no matter their party and more importantly, this is not what we expect from persons who socially identify as white. This is not what we have come to expect from so- called white people. This is not Dick and Jane. Trump does not represent the persons we see on commercials and cereal boxes with not even a hair out of place.
Whiteness is not what it was made out to be or what has been made up as we all go along. Mythical in proportion, whiteness is more American than apple pie. It is featured in every form of media, represented in every institution, acknowledged and accounted for in every place we would expect it to be. We are never surprised to see it.
White people were here first. White people did it. White people did it first. White people did it all. White people did it best. White people are “smart, important and kind.”
But what do we do when they are not? When this image of whiteness is not maintained? When there is a big stain on the front of the presidency? It is the “highest office in the land”; we cannot help but see it.
Is no one going to point it out or call for change? Whiteness looks a mess. Is no one going to clean this image up? This is what democracy really looks like.
The image of whiteness is typically well- managed but Donald Trump has pulled back the curtain. He comes out half- dressed and wholly uncertain, refuses to stay on script and repeat after the establishment. He has made a mockery of American justice.
But to be fair, America was a lie to begin with.