Secret resentment hidden in flyover country comes to light

Blake Blevins

Hate crimes. Racism. Slurs. Discrimination. Persecution. White supremacy. Bigotry. Protests. Xenophobia. Division. 

No, this is not a Civil Rights Movement word-association; this is the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential election. 

The campaign—and ultimate election—of Donald Trump as America’s 45th president has brought an alarming rise in racial tension to the US. One only has to tune in to a local news network or log on to social media to witness the already alarming issue. 

It is important to understand white supremacy was not the sole force that saw President-elect Trump take the White House. Many Americans cast their ballots in favor of the Republican nominee after being swayed by his rejection of political norms, his appeals to the frustrations of the American working class, and his promises of a more secure country. Many Americans sought change—something Trump promised. 

On the other hand, the overwhelming support Trump received from white supremacists and his own xenophobic demagoguery cannot be normalized. Not all Trump supporters are racists, but the fact remains that we have placed a man constantly scrutinized for chauvinistic comments and behaviors at the helm of our nation. It is lamentable that those who elected Trump for innocent reasons are roped in under slanderous labels, but many others showed up at the polls with a more malicious agenda. 

The rise in blatant hate crimes, and the election of the Trump-Pence administration are unmistakably intertwined. However, Donald Trump and Mike Pence cannot be held responsible for racism; this is an issue we have combatted since the dawn of this country until the push for equal rights prevailed with the Civil Rights Movement. Or did it? Did America solve the problem of racism with public policy forced upon unwilling constituents, or did our government simply issue a gag order?

Racism has persisted well past the 1960s. This is an incontestable fact. The misconception that attitudes can be molded by public policies is baffling. Legislature can dissuade discriminatory actions but do little to address the mindset of the American people. 

Because ideas like racism result exclusively from ignorance, the only logical solution lies within education. Children deserve better than an insufficient system that allows ignorance on such a primitive level to pass through. Each generation will inevitably live and work alongside people different from themselves; instilling understanding and respect of these differences should be one of the bottom-line goals of education. What good does memorizing numbers, formulas, and theories do children when they cannot understand the living, breathing people around them? 

In some areas, inappropriate thinking is so deeply rooted in culture that it is not viewed as racism, and as we’ve seen from past incidences, government intervention in education can cause revolts. This, in addition to the potential crisis the education field may be facing due to an increasing shortage of teachers, means we must proceed carefully. We cannot simply have government officials barge into classrooms crying out “Micro-aggression!” and “Implicit bias!” 

We have reached a point in America where half of the country is scrambling for a solution, while the other half doesn’t recognize there is a problem. Perhaps an all-encompassing legislative act is not the answer. Maybe a bleeding-heart amendment to classroom curriculum and administrative procedure will do more harm than good. Conversation, not legislation, may be the only way to solve these issues.

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