Of the many worst things about Trump’s election and his impact on American society is the way his vile racism — and the acquiescence-to-emulation of his fellow Republicans — has give the worst in our society (see: deplorables) license to display their own racist shitstains in public.
That came home with a vengeance for me over the last couple of days, starting with an email from the local high school principal and the school superintendent. Three young men, two recent Brookline High graduates, one current student, had posted to the broader internet two racist videos, attacking specific students of color at the school in the worst, most bluntly racist terms possible.
Today brought another email — a third video by this same trio has been found, along with racist graffiti in a boys bathroom near the cafeteria.
During a school walkout led by student leaders in the African American and Latino Scholars groups, speakers criticized the principal for not responding to the first videos faster, more publicly, with a broader expression of support. He acknowledged fault in an afternoon PA address:
Crises like these should spur each of us – every single one of us – to reflect on who we are in this community and how we help resist and fight hatred in all its forms, including racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia. As part of this reflection, we must also consider where we need to be better. That starts with me. I regret not communicating earlier than yesterday to the larger community – students, staff, and families. I made the decision to address this as an incident between a small group of students – the ones who made the initial video and the student they were targeting. In hindsight, I should have reached out to others sooner. I am sorry for this, as doing so would have put everyone in a better position to support and care for one another.
That’s a decent start, and I hope and believe more concrete effort’s coming. I spoke to my son and a couple of his friends, one a kid of color, this afternoon and they were more or less unfazed. They regard the racists as assholes not worth their time, and they’re right about that. But they know this isn’t usual, and they know that this is real hate, and not just teen crap.
That makes me weep, because even though I know better, this is what you want your child to believe he or she won’t have to deal with. (I should add that my son is way more of a realist than I am on this, and I’m aware that parental fantasies are still fantasy.)
But there’s this. Adding to my amazement as well as my disgust, this is Brookline, Massachusetts. Brookline!
For those of you who don’t happen to be familiar with every nook and cranny of Greater Boston, AKA the Hub of the Universe, Brookline is a small town enfolded on three sides by Boston proper, stretching west from, roughly, Fenway Park.
This is a well-off place, not so much limousine liberals as the dreaded East Coast Elites. Median family income is over $90,000 — which is probably not unconnected to the fact that 14 % of the population hold a doctorate degree (I’m in the 86%, I should add), said to be the highest such proportion in the US. Above all, it’s liberal as hell. In the 2016 election, Clinton-Kaine received 24,583 votes to Trump-Pence’s 3,175.
All of which is to say that while my Vulcan brain knows wealth, comfort, homogeneity etc. do not inoculate against racism, as Dr. McCoy I discover that I’ve been living that cliché: It Couldn’t Happen Here.
Clearly, it can.
Relearning that hard lesson reminds me how we got to this pass: Donald F**king Trump and that Republican Party that’s been waltzing with racists since 1968.
Public racism, the sense scumbags who hate have of being validated and enabled by the country’s most powerful man, is one of the many tumors Trump and his party have lodged in our body politic. Getting it out is going to require major surgery, years of the political analogue of chemo, and even then, may not leave us with a viable patient.
In my corner of the world, I’m glad that the Brookline schools seem to be taking our local metastasis seriously. Maybe we can excise this one lesion.
But damn, do I hate every sitting GOP politician who has, by tacit acceptance or full throated endorsement backed up our Bigot-in-Chief, who in turn has given voice (and perhaps more and worse) to those street level racists that can be found in literally every town in America.
I’m with Doug. This is one of those days I hope there’s an afterlife so that our current leaders can hang with Satan till the last proton decays.
Image: Jacob Lawrence, Antagonism between white and Negro workers resulted in race riots, 1940-41 [thx, Peter H. Desmond].