Racist violence is as American as apple pie.
Remember that Donald Trump froze funds that were supposed to go to groups fighting neo-Nazi violence. Remember that the Department of Justice recently announced that its civil rights division will be focusing its energies not on the precipitous rise in anti-black and anti-Muslim hate crimes that followed Trump’s election, but on “affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants.” Remember that the man who heads the Department of Justice was denied a federal judgeship 30 years ago for being too racist and once told a black lawyer he was totally cool with the Ku Klux Klan “until [he] found out they smoked pot.” Remember that David Duke, a former Imperial Wizard of the Klan who in 1990 won enough votes to become a Louisiana state representative, said “we voted for Donald Trump because he said he’s going to take our country back.” Remember that what happened in Charlottesville was not the unforeseen fallout from the 2016 presidential election, but exactly what Trump promised and what 63 million people voted for.
Remember that 53 percent of white women helped elect Trump because they saw the loss of white supremacy as more of an affront than the prospect of their daughters being grabbed by the pussy. Remember that some of the polo-shirted and khaki-pantsed young neo-Nazis in Charlottesville will go on to become judges and police officers and college deans and CEOs and gatekeepers of all kinds. Remember that many of those same dudes have girlfriends and wives and sisters and aunts and mothers — some of them were there, too — who support and agree with them. Remember that white women have helped uphold white power since this country’s founding, which is why black and Latinx women had to invent their own feminisms.
Remember that in 1955, Emmett Till was beaten to death, his eyes gouged out, a bullet lodged in his brain because he whistled at a white woman, except it turns out even that was a lie. Remember that 60 years later, right before he murdered nine black folks who had welcomed him into their church, Dylann Roof said, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” Remember that after Roof hunted down those black lives in the only safe space black people have ever had in this country, the police bought him a meal from Burger King. Remember that Eric Garner, Akai Gurley and Walter Scott’s lives were so devalued that as they lay dying, police didn’t even bother to perform CPR. Remember that a jury voted to give the family of a dog shot by cops $1.26 million, about the same amount as the settlement given to the family of Michael Brown.
Remember that within hours of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to strike down key parts of the Voting Rights Act, Texas, South Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi and Alabama moved forward with voter ID laws that specifically disenfranchise black and brown folks. Remember that the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965, which means black people have only legally been able vote in every part of this country for a sliver of the time we’ve been Americans. Remember that people were murdered for trying to vote, sometimes by lynching, events which were celebrated and memorialized in picture postcards. Remember that through voter suppression tactics, millions of black people are still denied voting rights, and remember who benefits from that.
Remember that the showrunners behind “Game of Thrones” are so lacking in imagination that they are making a television series about what America would look like if the South had won the Civil War, as if racism disappeared in 1865, instead of continuing to grow and thrive, and as if we cannot just look at this country in real time and script that show ourselves. Remember America was founded on Native American genocide and black chattel slavery and that Richard Spencer is still growing rich off cotton farms and black labor. Remember that those white guys in Charlottesville who complain they are sick of hearing about slavery were there to protest the removal of a confederate statue, which is kind of funny when you think about the irony of it, though not ha ha.
Remember all this when you hear someone respond to Charlottesville by saying racist violence is “un-American” or that it’s “not who we are,” because that is a bald-faced lie. In fact, it’s what this country has been about since day one; this is the U.S.A. at its most transparent. And nobody gets to pretend to be shocked anymore.
Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.
This originally appeared on Alternet. Republished here with permission.