Sebastian Vital

U.S. News


Understanding Trump’s ‘Shithole’ Remarks

Some white friends have expressed consternation at my (uncharacteristic) cynicism about the state of the country.

My response to their handwringing and frantic concern that “This isn’t who we are” has been met with a blunt assessment and reply of “This IS who we are.” What I should have said in addition to that is “But is this who we want to be?”

And the answer, quite honestly, could go either way.

We’ve received our free (slave) and reduced (immigrant) labor. Send these colored people on their way. OR, look at what these amazing Americans from these varied backgrounds, the children of immigrants who saw opportunities in this country they didn’t see on their own, have contributed to make this country a destination all around the globe.

To do the latter, we have to see ourselves as we really are.

Our scale has been out of commission for years. I knew I put on some weight but I didn’t realize how much until I saw a picture. I could delude myself when I had no idea what I looked like. I stared at that picture perplexed. It doesn’t match what I see in my mind or even how I feel in this body. I got on the scale and I’ve gained 35 pounds!!!! A toddler! I am moved to act when I have an accurate assessment of where I am.

And so it is with the current state of our union. If you really listen to your friends and family make excuses for the rhetoric and policies associated with President Trump, you already have an accurate depiction of “who we are.”

So what are you going to do about it?

For everyone, I’d suggest you start by NOT demonizing the Republican Party or conservatives. Demonize the rhetoric. Call it by name. Hold people you love to the standards they profess in their faith. Give them the space to whittle away the parts of republicanism and conservatism that have nothing to do with race so that they can condemn this dangerous speech Trump spews without fear of shaming or retribution.

And then white people, sit with the disconnect people of color do every single day. Great country with some crappy parts. Kind of like the people who inhabit it. Recognize that embedded in the fiber of this country is a virulent strain of racism that like a virus, is always present, but depending on the environment, can make us all very sick, or we barely notice the symptoms.

All of this was ricocheting in my brain as I drove home this afternoon, then I read this Roxane Gay column and found myself nodding so I’m sharing that as well.

This is who we are. Is this who we are going to be?