Conversations For Change: A Response to Karl

Conversations For Change: A Response to Karl

Editor’s note [1]

This comment is a response to Karl Branting’s recent post, “Conversations for Change: A Reflection:”

I feel that Mr. Bouie did indeed give us his journalistic expertise. After speaking with lots of people, he was sharing what he observed. More white people (who previously had not voted) did so, and they went overwhelmingly for Trump. Since many White people openly admitted to the Racial Animus motivating them, I think his observations are accurate. I also hear a lot of discomfort and fear about​ facing the pervasive nature of this Animus in the Karl’s response.

How are we to make progress when so-called “progressive” whites are quick to say: “Voters in these counties may be racist, but that can’t explain their voting behavior.”

I have a question, Karl: Why can it not explain their voting behavior?

You say that: “many Trump voters apparently believed that they were voting to have factories reopened and the ACA replaced with something better.” But they were willing to overlook (or possibly endorse) his overtly racist statements. This ability to disregard racist statements, presumably because they don’t apply to you, IS the subtle racism that must be confronted to create change.

Another question I have is this: Why must we come up with a different approach? Why does Mr. Branting think we must come up with something “more persuasive”? I see no evidence that White supremacy, privilege, and racial Animus has been adequately addressed. It seems like White​ people are tired of hearing about race and they’re ready to move on. Well – no. We cannot move on when somehow, your concerns about jobs clearly don’t include people of color, and you are willing to overlook statements and policies that harm my safety, the safety of others, and threatens my right to participate in the Civic process by voting.

Additionally, Mr. Bouie merely​ states from a Black perspective, what Richard Spencer and David Duke (well-known white supremacists) have also said: Trump reflects a return to official White, Male, hetero-normative privilege. David Duke endorsed Trump, because he heard a kindred spirit in his nastiness. Richard Spencer feels Trump represents him. In an interview with Trump supporters heard on NPR, no one mentioned jobs, or coal coming back; and one person specifically railed against the “progressive agenda of diversity” that​ was present in both Republican and Democratic administrations. So, clearly, plenty of white people agree, or are willing to be honest, about their own Racial Animus (to use Mr. Bouie’s phrase).

The First Family joined Civil Rights activist Amelia Boynton Robinson and others in beginning the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday. March 7, 2015, official White House photo by Lawrence Jackson, Wikipedia.

So the remaining question is: Why do you want to take the focus off of race? Clearly it is not resolved – so what is it? Is it because you are offended? Are you unwilling to examine your own Racial privilege?

Perhaps you are afraid of offending other whites by confronting them with the racial implications of their choices because it is a very uncomfortable and possibly disheartening conversation. However, I concur with Mr. Bouie. If you are not able to discuss how the white people who voted for Trump used their privilege by ignoring his racist, Islamophobic remarks; their ability to disregard the implications of having a White supremacist as his chief advisor, then we are nowhere. As a Black woman, I cannot fix or even fully address the issue of White Supremacy, White privilege, and White Racial Animus that is present, but not acknowledged. This job really falls to other White people.

We often bemoan not being a more diverse congregation. If we are not willing to confront both subtle and overt racism, and notice when it is activated, then nothing can change.

Conversations for change series:

A Reflection (Karl Branting)
A Response to Karl (Carla Gates)
A Response to Karl and Carla (Laurie Coltri)


[1] Editor’s Note: On Thursday, March 2, 2017, UUCC hosted the first of its “Conversations For Change” speaker’s series.  The featured speaker was Jamelle Bouie, chief political correspondent for Slate Magazine.  Bouie’s website notes that he is also a political analyst for CBS News. He says “I cover campaigns, elections, and national affairs. My work has appeared either online or in print at the New Yorker, the Washington Post, The Nation, and other publications.”

These comments by UUCC member Carla Gates first appeared as a comment to Karl Branting’s post, Conversations for Change: A Reflection.  Karl had argued that racism, alone, cannot explain the election of Donald Trump as US President in 2016.  This, another comment, and Karl’s original post are being republished simultaneously.  UUCC values its diverse views and we wish to re-present these reactions to the important topic of racial justice as a tryptych.

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