I used to like to point out that if you lived in the city of Newton Massachusetts (one of the wealthy suburbs of Boston which, during the 2010 census, had a demographic make-up of 79.6% White, 11.5% Asian, 2.5% African American, 0.07% Native American, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.71% from other races, and 1.46% from two or more races) that for the years 2010 through 2015, your President, your Governor, and your Mayor were all black men (or in Obama’s case, at least bi-racial).
The liberal Democrats of Newton, most of whom are white, had the chance to vote for a black man for President, for Governor and for Mayor not just once, but twice. And they did so. In large numbers.
For this period of time, the citizens of Newton demonstrated the ability, at least in their voting patterns, to heed the advice of Martin Luther King and judge these men not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
That had to be evidence of some kind of forward progress, didn’t it?
And then, of course, the backlash: the election of Donald Trump.
We now seem to be bifurcating between Democrat and Republican, urban and rural, reasonable and unreasonable, racist and anti-racist.
It’s not like racism had gone anywhere, but at least it had been considered in poor taste. Now it’s just out in the open and unashamed.
Donald Trump, as I’ve repeatedly noted, is the “fuck you” President, the Divider-in-Chief, whose racism has gone from dog-whistle racism to bullhorn racism.
Even during the Obama administration we had Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Jonathan Ferrell, Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose and Freddie Gray. Now we can add Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arberry, Rayshard Brooks, Christian Cooper and, of course, George Floyd.
And those are only the ones that happened to make it onto video.
For various practical reasons, I’m not so sure that defunding the police is a practical or desirable objective. But clearly, we need to dramatically reform the way policing is done here in the United States.
And racism? Boy do we have a long way to go.