“The resentment among whites feels both old and distinctly of this moment. It is shaped by the reality of demographic change, by a decade and a half of war in the Middle East, and by unease with the newly confident and confrontational activism of young blacks furious over police violence. It is mingled with patriotism, pride, fear and a sense that an America without them at its center is not really America anymore.” – For Whites Sensing Decline, Donald Trump Unleashes Words of Resistance
A little demographic information; I am a 50+ year-old, middle class white male that lives in a mid-size southern city. I live in a suburb not far from my city’s downtown. I attend a traditional, though liberal, protestant church located in an affluent section of my community. My neighborhood is white, my church is white, my work and the people who I interact with are white, my circle of friends and acquaintances are white.
My interaction with other races and nationalities is primarily on a consumer level; Rick from India who owns the convenience store I drop by every morning to buy a Diet Coke from; Anthony the black teen who bags my groceries at the store; James the black man who works at the laundry where I get my shirts pressed. I enjoy seeing and talking to these people. I know how many kids Rick has, their ages and interest. I know how long he has been in this country and how hard he works. I know that Anthony works at the store after school. He is attending our community college with hopes of transferring next year to a four-year university. He wants to major in business and would be the first in his family to graduate from college if he is successful. James has worked at the laundry for 32 years. He has a wonderful sense of humor, poor hearing and poor eyesight and after 10 years still can’t pronounce my last name which we laugh about every week. These are all wonderful people, people who I would happily live next door to or attend church with, but I don’t.
According to the US Census the racial make-up of my community is 65% white, 30% black, and 5% Hispanic or Latino. For the United States the racial mix is 74% white, 13% black, and 17% Hispanic or Latino. When I look at these numbers I wonder why white America feels so under siege. White Americans continue to dominate politics, business and wealth in the United States. They dictate policy, the press and police the morals of this country with a death grip. Maybe that is the problem, maybe that is why white America is so scared. We like to be in control, we have always been in control, for 240 years.
My view is that there is a huge cultural divide between the races that is growing wider every day. I can’t speak spanish so I have very little personal interaction with our Hispanic or Latino population. I know that they live in clusters in my community shopping in Hispanic stores and attending Hispanic churches which isolates them from the rest of the community. I was in Atlanta recently and saw black youth wearing their jeans above their knees with their boxer shorts showing. I didn’t understand their dress or the statement they were trying to make. I found their language strange as well. I tried to listen to what they were saying without appearing rude and was only able to decipher bits and pieces of their conversation. I thought to myself that there dress and speech would not help their case when interviewing with a middle-aged white man for a job working with the general public. I am not judging, I am just saying I can’t relate as I am sure they can’t relate to me.
So where am I going with all this? I don’t know. I love this country, I am not crazy about the state I live-in and it’s policies against the LGBT community or that so many of our citizens still view the confederate flag as a symbol of honor or that there is such a wide gap between the haves and have-nots in wealth, health, education and job opportunities. But I view these problems, these issues my state is dealing with as a microcosm for the nation as a whole. Race relations in the United States is not in a happy or safe place right now. Everyone is drawing lines in the sand, protecting their turf which is never an effective way of finding common or middle ground. I also understand that this is not just a USA issue, it is a world issue as well. Solutions will grow from the ground-up using calm rational voices. Whose voices? Yours and mine are a very good place to start.