Monday, February 25, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He redefined racism to make himself the victim of it.

Last night, Spike Lee won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his film BlacKkKlansman. The film dramatizes the real-life story of a black Colorado Springs policeman who, in 1979, infiltrated the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. 

Lee read his acceptance speech from a piece of paper he brought with him to the stage. This is the speech in its entirety.

The word today is “irony.” The date, the 24th. The month, February, which also happens to be the shortest month of the year, which also happens to be Black History month. The year, 2019. The year, 1619. History. Her story. 1619. 2019. 400 years. 
Four hundred years. Our ancestors were stolen from Mother Africa and bought to Jamestown, Virginia, enslaved. Our ancestors worked the land from can’t see in the morning to can’t see at night. My grandmother, Zimmie Shelton Retha, who lived to be 100 years young, who was a Spelman College graduate even though her mother was a slave. My grandmother who saved 50 years of Social Security checks to put her first grandchild — she called me “Spikie-poo” — she put me through Morehouse College and NYU grad film. NYU! 
Before the world tonight, I give praise to our ancestors who have built this country into what it is today along with the genocide of its native people. We all connect with our ancestors. We will have love and wisdom regained, we will regain our humanity. It will be a powerful moment. The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there.

Trump was apparently infuriated by this speech and deemed it both a personal attack on him and a "racist" one to boot.

The White House did not offer any explanation. But there are reasons Trump might have taken this personally. The movie depicts David Duke, a prominent Klansman and vocal Trump supporter who Trump pretended he didn't know in order to avoid having to denounce him during the 2016 campaign. (Trump's own father was once arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally.) And the film closes with a clip of Trump himself, praising "both sides" after a white nationalist rally in defense of Confederate statues led to the murder of an anti-racism protestor.

Other people of color who Trump feels are racist include former president Barack Obama, CBS journalist Bryant Gumbel, the writer TourĂ©, PBS journalist Tavis Smiley, and black voters who preferred Obama to Mitt Romney in 2012. (The full list of people who Trump believes have victimized him with their racism is much longer.)

So what?

  • Not supporting a president is not racism.
  • Trivializing racism is.