The week leading up to Election Day has put on full display the ugly, violent racism that is still very much alive in our country. An 110-year-old Black church in Mississippi was set ablaze, with the message “Vote Trump” spray-painted across its walls. Former KKK leader David Duke participated in a debate for the Louisiana Senate race as Black students were pepper-sprayed outside. A Fox host questioned Clinton’s decision to campaign with Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, who he claimed “can barely speak English.” A Trump supporter chanted “Jew-S-A!” at one of the GOP candidate’s rallies. White nationalist groups shared plans to intimidate Black voters. A KKK newspaper endorsed Donald Trump.
And these are only a selection of examples from the past week alone. Are we really in the year 2016?
While Trump has condemned some of these incidents, it’s not enough for him to denounce a church arson and then turn around and pretend that his campaign has nothing to do with the resurgence of this open, vitriolic racism. Trump, and the Republican party, need to stop pandering to racism entirely.
It is undeniable that Trump’s campaign has energized and mobilized white supremacists from the outset. His broad-brush caricatures of entire ethnic groups, his proposals to shut down Muslim immigration and “build a wall” along the Southern border, his phony statistics smearing African Americans as violent criminals, his retweets of white supremacists, his claim that immigrants are rapists and criminals — Trump’s campaign has consistently sounded a dog-whistle for some of the most extreme voices in our country. The fact that people whose beliefs were once on the farthest fringes of our society have been emboldened to come forward and shout out their hatred is a direct consequence of the 2016 election, and Trump and his Republican supporters cannot wash their hands of this disturbing trend.
Rather than just trying to publicly distance himself from the most extreme racist figures, perhaps Trump should be asking himself why the KKK and other racist extremists are so excited about his candidacy in the first place.
No matter what happens on November 8, this resurfacing of extreme racism— ugliness that causes real harm and real fear in many people’s lives — won’t disappear after Election Day. The events of this week evoke times in our history where intimidating Black Americans who tried to vote was routine, where attacking Black churches — like the 1963 bombing in Birmingham that killed four little girls — was a repeated act of white supremacist hatred meant to target the heart of the Black communities.
All people of conscience have to come together to unequivocally denounce this hate. We have to not only commit to voting against the candidate who has inspired white supremacists nationwide, but to confronting the dangerous racism that has been brought to the surface as a result of his campaign.