Let me start out by clearly stating, "I'm not saying I'm better than you."
In fact, let me make two confessions :
There have been times in my life when I've looked at the statistics of the growing hispanic population of my state, Florida, and thought, "oh no."
RECENTLY, in the grocery store parking lot, a black woman was sauntering slowly in the middle of the road, and I extrapolated it to "entitled black people."
THESE THINGS ARE 100% not okay! They. Are. Racist.
And the problem is... Donald Trump's political rhetoric and life examples VALIDATE this perspective.
Since the 1960's (and before that... kind of) there has been a concerted effort to end racism – in the systems of our society and in the hearts of people. We've been taught that the two instances in my own life that I mentioned above aren't okay. (Even if we let our grandfather say these things out loud at the Thanksgiving Dinner Table, we've at least come to the place where we hopefully cringe a little).
Donald Trump has consistently used language to encourage racist, sexist, discriminatory mindsets.
"But I'm not, racist, Cole," you may be saying. "I voted for Trump because of my beliefs about abortion or because I thought he'd make better Supreme Court appointments." I hear you.
While some may have voted for Trump because they think he is going to restrict abortion or because he's going to nominate "conservative" Supreme Court justices, is it possible these voters have also endorsed personal and institutional discrimination in the process? Could there be ripples to the decision of the single-issue voter?
My sense is that a Trump vote -- even if cast because of other policy reasons -- has served to, in some way, validate discriminatory voices.
The clear example is David Duke, former leader of the KKK. Do all Trump voters stand with the KKK ideologically? OF COURSE NOT. But has that ideology been validated and encouraged by a Trump win? To some degree, yes.
And my greatest concern isn't the few David Dukeses of the world whose ideology is clearly stated in word and in print. I think the greater concern is the people who -- behind closed doors -- make small statements like, "those criminal Mexicans" or "those terrorist Muslims" or those who would have the audacity to look at a group of people and yell, "It's America, speak english" or would say, "you're a woman, you exist to satisfy me when I want to be satisfied against your will" or "you're a woman, you can't _____." OR, "those entitled black people" or "those hispanics are taking over Florida." Trump specifically championed these mindsets in his campaign and has embodied it in his words and actions.
I thank God that, by his grace, I have been exposed to lots of other perspectives in the last 5 years of my life. Perspectives that show me that my thoughts are wrong and unjust at times. They are racist and discriminatory. And so much of my heart today values and craves diverse environments, perspectives, and experiences. BUT
there are people who think the same kinds of things I think from time to time to whom a Trump win now says, "be bold, and start owning and speaking your racist ideologies."
I'm not calling YOU racist. I'm not calling all Trump voters racist. I'm not saying that you're one of those people who think that stuff. I'm not even saying you think things as bad as the things I think sometimes. But what my suspicion is that a more accurate interpretation of the feeling that "Trump supporters are racist" is :
"A Trump win validates and emboldens racist and discriminatory voices."
"Wait, but what about "crooked Hillary?" Isn't she just as bad?" you may be asking.
I think there's an important distinction here. The discrimination that Donald Trump has validated and fostered is different than Hillary Clinton using an email server at her house or any other number of illegal or inappropriate behaviors. While both may be unacceptable, there is a difference between a public figure cultivating a national mindset of discrimination and a public figure having shady dealings (which is the case for both candidates).
Shady dealings speak to an individual's character, but with Trump, we're talking about something much bigger – the reversion to a national mindset of discrimination against people groups.
I think there's some good news here in all this.
I honestly think Donald Trump has no intention of doing most of the things he talked about in his campaign. And I'm already taking deep breaths and relaxing. BUT, Trump did expose a dirty little secret that's been festering under the surface of America's skin. And I think this is the perfect opportunity to do something about it.
My hopeful prediction ::
We're about to enter into a new season of the advancement of civil rights -- a groundswell leading to a new level of freedom for the oppressed and neglected.
And here's my call to you and me : when you see something, say something.
If you hear someone use a derogatory term toward a person, say something.
If you see violence being enacted, protect.
If you hear someone paint with the broad brush of stereotypes, call them out on in.
If someone is being shamed, stand up.
Let's move into a new, united front against injustice, one act at a time.
So, if you're not racist (or at least you're willing to admit that you are, but you don't want to be), now's the time to do something about it.
I believe that, deep down, we're good people. When someone calls us to the better parts of our nature, there's something divine inside us that wants to say "yes." Maybe you don't agree with everything I said here, but regardless, I hope we can get united behind the call to end personal, political, and institutional discrimination.
So you voted for Trump because there were a few things you like about his policy. Got it. Support those things. But the minute, someone starts to feel the weight of oppression or discrimination, stand up against it.