The argument that President Donald Trump won the White House because of an angry white working class is a theory used to cover up the real reason he was elected, Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote Thursday.
Coates explained that pundits’ and journalists’ attempts to explain Trump’s election as symbolic of white working class anger only serves to allow white people to ignore the racism and bigotry prevalent in America, in an excerpt of his upcoming book “We Were Eight Years In Power.”
“Indeed, there is a kind of theater at work in which Trump’s presidency is pawned off as a product of the white working class as opposed to a product of an entire whiteness that includes the very authors doing the pawning. The motive is clear: escapism,” Coates wrote. “To accept that the bloody heirloom remains potent even now, some five decades after Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on a Memphis balcony—even after a black president; indeed, strengthened by the fact of that black president—is to accept that racism remains, as it has since 1776, at the heart of this country’s political life.”
By blaming it on the anger of the white working class, the left can ignore how dangerous whiteness can be to the world and to America, according to Coates.
“The left would much rather have a discussion about class struggles, which might entice the white working masses, instead of about the racist struggles that those same masses have historically been the agents and beneficiaries of. Moreover, to accept that whiteness brought us Donald Trump is to accept whiteness as an existential danger to the country and the world … then the threat of racism and whiteness, the threat of the heirloom, can be dismissed. Consciences can be eased; no deeper existential reckoning is required,” Coates wrote.
Coates also argued that Trump’s entire presidency is a “negation” of having a black president, which demonstrates how whiteness works.
“It is as if the white tribe united in demonstration to say, ‘If a black man can be president, then any white man—no matter how fallen—can be president.’ And in that perverse way, the democratic dreams of Jefferson and Jackson were fulfilled,” Coates wrote.
Coates has previously come out in favor of reparations as a way to make up for slavery and Jim Crow in America.
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