Donald Trump is criticized for being racist, xenophobic and overtly hateful toward certain groups. However, the amount of support he is getting here in America, from a society that is touted to be “progressive” and has supposedly moved past racism, is unprecedented.
For every person that denounces Trump, his detrimental ideology and overt hatred, there is another avid supporter that suddenly finds it right to be vocal about segregating Muslims and deporting Mexicans.
The issue here extends beyond politics; it exposes a flaw in the people living in our country today. Had the people of America truly believed in equality of all races and treating all people with respect, Trump would not be leading the polls with the consistency that he is now.
The main problem is not Trump himself—rather those who share his discriminatory views and problematic ideologies. We are quick to decry Trump when he uses especially inflammatory rhetoric, but we are not as quick in addressing why so many have a deep-seated resentment of certain racial groups.
Yes, Trump’s violent rhetoric and blatantly hateful views are partly to blame for the sudden surging of vocal racism and Islamophobia being expressed these days, but we cannot point a finger at just him without evaluating people’s individual mindsets.
Trump may be bringing levels of prejudice and hatred to an all time high, but let’s not ignore the fact that people in the U.S. are prejudiced. He may be presented as a scary, diabolic even, but he has not espoused any new ideas that people today do not already have.
It is time to treat the ever-present racism in Americans and learn that issues did not end with the civil rights movement. While we have certainly been making great strides over the years, progress does not ensure that the issue of racism is now eliminated. As we see today with the aid of Trump, it certainly hasn’t been.
In a way, Trump has actually allowed the resurfacing of the root of the problem: Americans not shying away from voicing racist and radical thoughts regarding others. Having a leader unafraid to tone down his incendiary views and refusing to back down despite being commonly referred to as racist has reassured many Americans that their own racism and prejudice is now somehow more acceptable.
Hopefully the fact that there are Americans who counter these extremes of hatred and who are concerned about rising racial tension will highlight the problems in our country. For every person who is currently unashamedly denouncing another race or religion there is another wondering how to put an end to this irrational hatred of different groups.
To somewhat tame this charged climate of mistrust and sadly overt racism towards Muslims, Latinos, African Americans and all others we must first examine ourselves. We must ensure that somewhere deep down we do not find any of this fear or hatred permissible and that we are active in raising our voices against it.
Before we can dismantle Trump’s campaign of racism, xenophobia, hate and blame we must actively address the remnant prejudice in America’s public.
Ankita Chakraborty is a second-year student majoring in biology and minoring in psychology.