Following the mass shooting in El Paso over the weekend, in which the alleged gunman apparently posted an online rant using some language that mirrors rhetoric used by President Trump, academics and politicos have reflected on the role the president has played in stoking white supremacy in America. But in a segment that has gone viral, Eddie Glaude, chair of the African American Studies at Princeton University, made a case on Monday about the need for the conversation about white supremacy in America to go beyond Trump.
Read what he said below, with annotations from The Fix highlighted in yellow.
MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace: It’s on us to be specific, but the climate where you have to pull down the files of insults that he [Trump] used for different minority groups is so overwhelming at this point. I take your point. The questions have all been answered, what now?
Eddie Glaude: It’s a very difficult question, Nicolle. I mean, America is not unique in its sins as a country. We’re not unique in our evils to be honest with you. I think where we may be singular is our refusal to acknowledge them, and legends and myths we tell about our inherent, you know, goodness to hide and cover and conceal so that we can maintain a kind of willful ignorance that protects our innocence.
See, the thing is when the tea party was happening, we were saying as pundits, “It’s just an economic populism. It’s not about race.” When people knew, people knew social scientists were already writing that what was driving the tea party were anxieties about demographic shifts — that the country was changing, they were seeing these racially ambiguous babies on Cheerios commercials. That the country wasn’t quite feeling like a white nation anymore. People were screaming from the top of their lungs, “This is not simply economic populism! This is the ugly underbelly of the country!”
See, the thing is this, I will say it, and I will take the hit on it, there are communities who have had to bear the brunt of white Americans confronting the danger of their innocence. And it happens every generation. So somehow, we have to, “Oh my god, is this who we are?” and just again, here’s another generation of babies — think about it, a 2-year-old had his bones broken by two parents trying to shield him from being killed. A woman who had been married to this man for as long as I have been on the planet almost, lost her husband. For what?
And so what we know is the country has been playing politics for a long time on this hatred. We know this. It’s easy for us to place it all on Donald Trump’s shoulders. It’s easy for us to place Pittsburgh on his shoulders. It’s easy for me to place Charlottesville on his shoulders. It’s easy for us to place El Paso on his shoulders. This is us. And if we’re going to get past this, we can’t blame it on him. He’s a manifestation of the ugliness that’s in us.
I have had the privilege of growing up in a tradition that didn’t believe in the myths and the legends because we had to bear the brunt of them. Either we’re going to change, Nicolle, or we’re going to do this again and again, and babies are going to have to grow up without mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts, friends, while we’re trying to convince white folk to finally leave behind a history that will maybe, maybe embrace a history that might set them free from being white. Finally. Finally.
Wallace: What else?
Glaude: Lord help us.