Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Poll: Americans feel race relations has worsened under Trump

At a Donald Trump rally, his supporters unfurled this flag.

MY STOMACH GROWLED. I left home without eating breakfast to run a load of errands. I was hungry. What happened next ruined my appetite. 
So my wife and I went into a restaurant in one of those look-alike strip malls in a nondescript San Francisco suburb. 
After ordering, my wife said, "I wouldn't have said this a few years ago, but I feel uncomfortable." I knew what she was saying. The shooting of a South Asian in a Kansas City had just happened that week.
Despite the diversity of the Bay Area, the further you go from the urban center, the whiter the suburbs gets. The ex-burbs, is where people go when they feel too uncomfortable with people of color. But even on the fringes, the burbs are getting more diverse as minorities move out of the urban centers to find their American dream.

I looked around the restaurant and noticed, except for a busboy and one of the waitresses, we were the only people of color in the place. Certainly, the only Asians. I wondered which one of them was carrying. We are not alone having that uneasiness, that air of tension was just enough to make us more aware of our surroundings. and the people around us.

The rise of Donald Trump has changed the complexion of race relations in America. Some of his followers now think it is OK to be overtly racist. For some people who used to keep their darker thoughts to themselves, it is not OK to:
  • Shoot an Indian/American in a Kansas City restaurant and tell them "Go back to your country," as what hahppened a few months ago.
  • Beat an Asian/American courier and then shout, "That's white power," an incident that occurred in New York City last week.
  • For a teacher to have her students read about Islam, a religion that is "immoral and corrupting."
  • Single out people of one religion and try to keep them from traveling to this country.
  • Build a wall to keep out Mexicans.
And we've all  heard about the shootings in the black community and the deportations of  immigrant Americans.

The examples go on and on.

As Trump enters his second hundred days, the incidents of hate continue to rise. Bigotry is no longer held in check by civility.
A new Reuters/Ipsos opinion show that Americans think that race relations is deteriorating and lot of the blame can be put on the current residents of the White House.
Trump's pronouncements against Muslims and immigrants are credited with emboldening a wave of white supremacists and white nationalists of different stripes now collectively referred to as the "Alt-right."
The poll, taken from March 28 to April 3, asked more than 2,800 adults to rate the danger of racism and bigotry in America. About 36 percent gave it the worst rating possible, saying they considered racism and bigotry an “imminent threat” to the country. That is up a few points from the 29 percent who answered the same way two years ago.

“People look to emulate the president. So they think ‘if he can be terrible, I can be terrible,'” said a white law school student in Houston who voted for Hillary Clinton.

Several poll respondents expressed growing unease about race and civility, even if they had not directly experienced or seen racist acts.

It’s not just minorities who say they’re feeling tense. A respondent in Many, Louisiana, a town of about 2,700 people, said he sensed rising anger among black residents after Trump’s election.

“You can just feel the tension building, like something is fixing to come to a head,” said the 46-year old, who did not vote in the November election. “There is more of a hatred toward white people.”
It is that cultural anxiety among white people that pushed Trump over the top. "It's your last chance," Trump told his mostly white supporters during the campaign. "You might not get another chance." He didn't say race, white or black, but his supporters and people of color understood the underlying appeal to the racial preference of the crowd.
More Democrats, 46 percent, than Republicans racism and bigotry pose an imminent threat to the country. And that's part of the problem, Trump supporters dont' see the racism in their thinking and actions.

The supporters who like what Trump has done -- banning Muslims, attacking immigrants, withholding funds from traditionally black colleges -- see in him a champion in their fight to keep their position of dominance and power to which they feel they are entitled. That is what Trump means when he says he wants to make America great again, or when he tells his supporters that he wants to take America back.

The tug-of-war between those who want to keep the status quo and those who want to pull the country into a new century is what put Trump into power. The question is Trump's ascendency the old America's last hurrah, or is it the sign of the country descending into a bomb-proof bunker?

“People talk to me differently since the election, I get different looks, different comments,” said a black 31-year old food delivery worker in Helena, Alabama. “A lot of people are on edge.”

Lunch was a quickly consumed by my wife and I. No one said anything derogatory to us, no funny looks s in our direction or racist scribbings on our receipt. But I just couldn't get shake that nagging feeling of anxiousness. Things are different now.
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