Toni Morrison Says TRUMPISM Is About Making America White Again

January 3, 2018

is a serious project. All immigrants to the United States know (and
knew) that if they want to become real, authentic Americans they must
reduce their fealty to their native country and regard it as secondary,
subordinate, in order to emphasize their whiteness. Unlike any nation in
Europe, the United States holds whiteness as the unifying force. Here,
for many people, the definition of “Americanness” is color.

slave laws, the necessity for color rankings was obvious, but in
America today, post-civil-rights legislation, white people’s conviction
of their natural superiority is being lost. Rapidly lost. There are
“people of color” everywhere, threatening to erase this long-understood
definition of America. And what then? Another black President? A
predominantly black Senate? Three black Supreme Court Justices? The
threat is frightening.

In order to
limit the possibility of this untenable change, and restore whiteness
to its former status as a marker of national identity, a number of white
Americans are sacrificing themselves. They have begun to do things they clearly don’t really want to be doing,
and, to do so, they are (1) abandoning their sense of human dignity and
(2) risking the appearance of cowardice. Much as they may hate their
behavior, and know full well how craven it is, they are willing to kill
small children attending Sunday school and slaughter churchgoers who
invite a white boy to pray. Embarrassing as the obvious display of
cowardice must be, they are willing to set fire to churches, and to
start firing in them while the members are at prayer. And, shameful as
such demonstrations of weakness are, they are willing to shoot black
children in the street.

To keep
alive the perception of white superiority, these white Americans tuck
their heads under cone-shaped hats and American flags and deny
themselves the dignity of face-to-face confrontation, training their
guns on the unarmed, the innocent, the scared, on subjects who are
running away, exposing their unthreatening backs to bullets. Surely,
shooting a fleeing man in the back hurts the presumption of white
strength? The sad plight of grown white men, crouching beneath their
(better) selves, to slaughter the innocent during traffic stops, to push
black women’s faces into the dirt, to handcuff black children. Only the
frightened would do that. Right?

sacrifices, made by supposedly tough white men, who are prepared to
abandon their humanity out of fear of black men and women, suggest the
true horror of lost status.

It may
be hard to feel pity for the men who are making these bizarre sacrifices
in the name of white power and supremacy. Personal debasement is not
easy for white people (especially for white men), but to retain the
conviction of their superiority to others—especially to black
people—they are willing to risk contempt, and to be reviled by the
mature, the sophisticated, and the strong. If it weren’t so ignorant and
pitiful, one could mourn this collapse of dignity in service to an evil

The comfort of being
“naturally better than,” of not having to struggle or demand civil
treatment, is hard to give up. The confidence that you will not be
watched in a department store, that you are the preferred customer in
high-end restaurants—these social inflections, belonging to whiteness,
are greedily relished.

So scary are
the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans
have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates
violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so
much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees

On Election Day, how
eagerly so many white voters—both the poorly educated and the well
educated—embraced the shame and fear sowed by Donald Trump. The
candidate whose company has been sued by the Justice Department for not
renting apartments to black people. The candidate who questioned whether
Barack Obama was born in the United States, and who seemed to condone
the beating of a Black Lives Matter protester at a campaign rally. The
candidate who kept black workers off the floors of his casinos. The
candidate who is beloved by David Duke and endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.

Faulkner understood this better than almost any other American writer.
In “Absalom, Absalom,” incest is less of a taboo for an upper-class
Southern family than acknowledging the one drop of black blood that
would clearly soil the family line. Rather than lose its “whiteness”
(once again), the family chooses murder.

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