In the last six months or so, the presidential candidates have been debating, rallying, and discussing what they’re going to do for America come 2017. Although the presidential elections are usually filled with both liberals and extremists, this election has given a whole new meaning to the word extreme. As I’m sure you may know Donald Trump (I still can’t believe I’m saying that) is one of the republicans running for president and shockingly, he’s winning. He just won the most states on Super Tuesday and he’s gaining more followers every day. When I first started seeing how many followers he had I just couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that so many Americans agreed with all of the cruel, racist things he says and I couldn’t believe that Americans agreed with the laws he aspires to write that solely have to do with peoples race or religion. It turns out, I was just being naive. After talking to African-American classmates and reading articles about Trump’s escalating success, I’ve learned that him getting the most votes is not shocking to people of color. One girl in my class said, “It’s actually a good thing that Trump is opening so many American eyes. People are finally seeing how racist our country still is. Black people aren’t shocked he’s winning; we’re all saying ‘finally everyone is seeing what we’ve been dealing with for years.'” When I first heard this I felt terrible. I thought to myself, how could I be so ignorant? I knew there was still racism in America, especially after what happened to Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, but I thought that was just a small part of the population; turns out, it’s the majority.
My question now is, how can we let a man like Trump run for president? How will we ever attempt to eradicate (although I’m not sure it will ever be fully eradicated) racism if we elect such racist leaders? Trump knows his followers are people who don’t believe that colored people matter and he knows he’s not speaking to people that believe in equality for all. He’s fine with both of those things and he actually has the potential to go pretty far in this election because so many people believe in him.
Many Americans will say that they’re not racist but when they hear or see it happening and they do nothing to stop it, they’re allowing it to continue. This passive participation is how racism functions. In order to change this, people are going to have to start speaking up when they hear or see something. We also need to put our efforts towards changing the institutional patterns of exclusion that are seen in the racist institutions we have in this country, by taking by affirmative action.
To reiterate, racism is still very prominent today and we need to be actively participating in deciding who our next leader will be in order to stop it. Just because slavery is abolished, Obama is our president, and Oprah is one of the wealthiest black women in the world doesn’t mean that we don’t still have systemic racism. So next time you see Trumps name on T.V. or on the newspaper, think about his following and what you can do to be the opposite.