It’s early. Around 5AM and already I’m seeing this image floating around the interwebz. Trump supporters at a rally wearing t-shirts which couldn’t be defined as anything other than overtly racist! Except, they’re not. Maybe.
When I first looked at the image, something just reeked of photochop. It was actually the ladys’ pompadors, they’re hairstyles. The sunglasses also looked suspicious, so I did a brief Google image search and came a page which contained the photo below. That appears to be the original photo and as you can see, there’s nothing overtly racist on their shirts. More on that in a moment. Now, there are some who would say that the two images are saying pretty much the same thing but the problem is this: the political landscape in our country is so full of vitriol and xenophobia right now that it doesn’t need any help to look any worse! Truth is truth and when photoshops like this enter the fray, then are debunked, it does nothing but take the focus off of what’s really important. It’s a distraction at best, at worst it’s fuel to an already raging fire of false pride and post-reconstruction rhetoric. As a father explaining the world to my kids when they have questions about the uglier side of our society, I think it important that we deal in truth- especially when dealing with politics and Trump.To pass fabrications like this off as insignificant is to miss the heart of the matter.Click To Tweet We’re all looking for what is right and true and just and if those things only matter to varying degrees, what’s the point? What message are we sending to our children, our families, our communities? It always cracks me up when people use the phrase “my truth.” As I see it, truth in its strictest sense is absolute. You have a perspective, an experience, “death” is a truth. Your experience isn’t everyone’s experience but everyone will experience death at some point. That is truth. The truth is, those women didn’t show up to that rally wearing the shirt the image that’s gaining momentum around the internet shows and not speaking to that tarnishes the truth.
Back to that overtly racist tee. There’s nothing overtly racist about a statement like Trump’s campaign slogan “make America great again,” except for the fact that when people are quizzed about when America was great it often falls into a time period when it wasn’t so great for a large segment of the populace. It was great for whites and not so great for minorities. All one needs to do is Google terms like “redlining” “Tuskegee experiments” “Jim Crow” to find out that the American tale of greatness is one of two very different Americas. As with most things in life, “greatness” is relative. It has context. The problem we still have in this country is that we discount the experiences of others. Because it was great for “us” we can’t imagine how it wasn’t great for the other guy. And if the other guy complains it wasn’t great, of course we’re not talking about the bad stuff… we’re only talking about the good stuff. Therein lies the problem though. We can’t go back in time and if we could, there are a few million people in America who wouldn’t want to. Instead of making America great again what I’d love to hear people saying is “Let’s make America great, TODAY!”
This country is pretty awesome, but it’s never truly lived up to its potential for all American citizens and that’s the shame of it all. We have one group of citizens who don’t realize the crap show another group has had to endure and because we often can’t empathize and meet in the middle, we remain divided. We should all be striving to make America great, according to this:
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain Inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Mark Skarzynski says
Great post, Tshaka! This reminded me of the poem “Let America Be America Again”, by Langston Hughes: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/let-america-be-america-again
Tshaka Armstrong says
Ah, Hughes. One of my favorites! Thank you.