Letter: Go deeper than calling President Trump racist

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 21, 2019

The recent racist and disparaging tweets made by President Donald Trump have stirred much debate. However, this debate is not new, and these comments are not original. The notion of “go back to where you came from” is rooted in precedent set by some of the country’s most notorious racists and xenophobes.

The idea of “you’re not like us, so get out” conveys the message that normalcy in America is white, especially when directed at four women of color and not people like U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, a progressive white male also from an immigrant family.

“Othering” people of color does more than remove the welcome mat. It requires that to be American, you must be white.

Moreover, the type of blind obedience demanded through the notion of “if you don’t like it, leave” is the antithesis to democracy, a system that flourishes on the premise of debate.

By ignoring Trump’s comments or pretending they are anything but what they are — racist — we protect white supremacy. Contrary to Trump’s plea that he doesn’t “have a racist bone in (his) body,” the comments are both racist and un-American. However, this debate should be less about character and more about the system.

We cannot stop at calling Trump racist and pat ourselves on the back for being vigilant. Trump merely exists as a symptom of deeper-set racism and hatred that, while more covert, is prolific in our society.

To begin to combat systemic racism, we must first look within ourselves and acknowledge how we perpetuate it. If we are more concerned with acknowledging the racism in our words and actions rather than the repercussions of it on people of color, it’s obvious there is much more work to be done.

— Emma Labovitz