We were having supper in a small hotel in Portugal and my husband struck up a conversation with the only other diner, a man from Chicago. He was in Portugal looking for a retirement home to buy. He and his wife had planned to retire in Arizona or Florida but the election of Donald Trump and the fear he might get re-elected in 2020 has them looking elsewhere for a retirement residence.
Our dinner companion said he wants to throw up every time he sees Donald Trump on television. He called him and I quote “a moron without morals.” He told us he is particularly sickened by the evangelical Christian support of a man who is the antithesis of everything Christianity should embody. I asked him why he thought Donald Trump enjoys so much support in the United States. His answer was quick. “It’s racism. Pure and simple.” He felt Donald Trump made people feel less uncomfortable about their underlying racist tendencies. He was sure Trump was voted in as a backlash against the election of a black president.
The morning after our conversation with the Chicago businessman I happened to read an article in The Atlantic called The Heavy Burden of Teaching My Son about Racism in America. It was by Jemar Tisby, a PhD history candidate and the president of a group called The Witness. They seek to engage the Christian church in an honest dialogue about racism in America.
Tisby’s article explained how he, like all diligent black parents, has had to introduce his seven- year old son to the reality of racism in the United States. Black parents must remind their children early and often that people may consider them threatening for no reason. They must tell their kids they will have to work twice as hard as others and won’t get second chances. They have to teach their children that just hanging out with other black kids in too big a group can raise suspicion.
Parents must choose the right way to explain lynching and slavery since they play such an important role in family history. Tisby lives in Mississippi and he says racism is especially prevalent in the American south. He believes in the south for “every adult who is trying to train their children to confront racial intolerance, there is another teaching their children how to perpetuate and preserve it.”
I had wanted to believe my Chicago acquaintance from the previous evening was exaggerating when he talked about the extent of racism in the United States. Tisby’s article suggested he was not.
And we Canadians need not grow too smug, We have our own issues of racism to address.