Please believe it: 2015 was chock-full of racism.
America was unhinged this past year, to be sure, with racists coming out of the woodwork. This was the year that we scraped the bottom of the barrel, with some sectors of white America holding a good ol’ race riot, rebooted for the twenty-first century.
Let’s be clear: when you are black, or Latino, or another person of color, any given year never fails to shock your spirit. With the things coming out of the mouths of some people, the offensive words and actions, you really have to wonder about this country.
But 2015 was different, unsurpassed at least in recent memory.
If a single person could represent the embodiment of this ignorance in 2015, it would have to be Donald Trump. Now, Trump did not make America more racist. Rather, he only reflected that which already existed.
As a presidential candidate, “The Donald” was able to tap into the anger of under-informed white voters who have legitimate anger but, as usual, always blame the wrong people for their problems. The Republican Party has been hustling poor, uneducated white folks for decades, giving them trickle-down economics and, with a wink and a nod, telling them to point the finger at black and brown people for losing their jobs, or for their taxes going up, or what have you.
But Trump has thrown away the common tactics of dog whistle politics and has tapped into white nationalism and creeping fascism in America. When some people say they want their country back, they miss the days when whites had everything, and African-Americans were invisible, or at least seen but not heard.
Trump began his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants “criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.” and vowing to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico. And more recently, he proposed a ban on the entry of all Muslims into the country, as well as a special identification badge for all Muslims, not unlike the yellow star of David the Nazis forced Jews to wear in Europe under Hitler.
But Trump is not alone among the GOP political field. Although not white, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz — who are scraping the same barrel that is the Republican base — have appealed to racist white conservatives. Carson suggested that a Muslim should not become president, then only if that person renounces Islam. And Ted Cruz, who was born in Canada to a Cuban father and an American mother, wants to repeal the 14th Amendment, which grants birthright citizenship to children born in the U.S. from undocumented parents. He also likened the Black Lives Matter movement to cop killers.
In 2015, angry whites responded to the #BlackLivesMatter with the declaration that “All Lives Matter,” an attempt to devalue black life and downplay the protest movement against police violence, institutional racism and the impact of the criminal justice system on communities of color. In the process, they captured the tone of segregationists of the 1950s and 1960s who opposed civil rights.
— toni childish (@neosoulful) December 14, 2015
As #BlackLivesMatter went to college, so too did the racists. The racist chants of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma, the defacing of the portraits of black faculty at Harvard Law School, and the suspension of cadets at The Citadel for wearing KKK hoods are a reminder that millennials have as big of a racism problem as their parents.
Moreover, the incident involving a swastika made of feces at the University of Missouri — and attempts by Republican lawmakers to retaliate against the striking black Mizzou football players — are proof that black students are not safe on college campuses.
Meanwhile, in 2015 we witnessed raw racism from the bench of the highest court in the land. During oral arguments for the University of Texas affirmative action case, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia suggested that black students belong at “slower track” universities.
Speaking of Black scientists, he said “They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them,” Scalia said. “I’m just not impressed by the fact that the University of Texas may have fewer. Maybe it ought to have fewer. And maybe some — you know, when you take more, the number of blacks, really competent blacks, admitted to lesser schools, turns out to be less.” A proponent of the debunked “mismatch theory,” Scalia reflects the white racist sentiment that affirmative action should be abolished because black people are in over their heads, ill-equipped and simply don’t belong.
But some racists responded to black people not just with words but with guns and murder. On June 17th a white supremacist named Dylann Roof, 21, opened fire on a Bible study at the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine people in what became known as the Charleston Massacre. The bloodbath was a factor accelerating the debate over the Confederate flag, leading to its removal from the state capitol in Columbia. And in Minneapolis, three suspects were arrested for shooting five Black Lives Matter protesters.
Even Hollywood, generally not known as a bastion of diversity and inclusion, has faced ignorant, racist critics. Some were outraged that John Boyega, a black actor, would be cast in the leading role of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
— The Real Gamer Guy (@MatthewWebbUK) December 19, 2015
— Ann Kelly (@LadyAodh) December 15, 2015
#TheWizLive Seriously who thought it was a great idea to be racist and only have Black People be the cast. — watching The Wiz Live
— Jason Hix (@palace486) December 20, 2015
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) December 7, 2015
People are saying that #TheWizLive is racist because everyone knows that there are no black Tin Men.
— National Comedy (@nationalcomedy) December 6, 2015
— Rosita Hush (@LadyDeeTeeMI) December 6, 2015
These days, the new tactic of racists is to brand people of color as “racist” for shining a light on discrimination and extolling the virtues of diversity. Rosalind Brewer, the black CEO of Sam’s Club, found herself the target of a boycott by white racists after she discussed the importance of workplace diversity. She was branded a “racist” who hates white men after telling CNN her reaction after once meeting with suppliers and finding herself sitting at a table entirely of white men.
Indeed, racists got their groove back in 2015. And if you call them out on their racism, they will call you politically correct. Or racist. Expect this race riot to get worse before it gets better. And remember that 2016 is an election year.
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove