Making America Great Again: Putting the 2016 Election into historical context

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“In these trying circumstances, the black revolution is much more than a struggle for the rights of Negroes. It is forcing America to face all its interrelated flaws- racism, poverty, militarism, and materialism. it is exposing the evils that rooted deeply in the whole structure of our society. It reveals systemic rather than superficial flaws and suggests that radical reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced.” Martin Luther King Jr.

In reading the introduction and first chapter to From #BLACKLIVESMATTER To Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, it sparked my thoughts on the recent election, and the slogan that to “Make America Great Again”. This slogan has become attractive to a certain demographic in the United States, who has a specific ideology of what a “great America” looks to them. For many, this type of ignorance, discrimination, and racism, has been apart of their life for as long as they can remember, it has been embedded and ingrained into the common knowledge as a culture and racial group. For many years, African Americans have had to accept and overcome the painful history that they come from and put into perspective the role they served in the past comparing it to the injustices that followed and is still happening in modern society. When I hear the phrase “Make America Great Again” I do not connect nor do I feel comfortable with it because there is a connotation behind that phrase for the people who uphold its meaning.

In my Social Justice class, I had a discussion with my classmate who seems to be in disbelief that African Americans, Latinos, Muslims and other minorities are still being discriminated against in the way that this election has revealed. For me, it is no surprise because I have always have to be aware of these social and systemic inequalities that cripples minority groups in this country. The truth is the country has come a long way, however, there have always been the idea of “us” and “the others”, when one racial group has always been upheld as the “superior” then there was no way “the others” could stand in their own superiority. If we take this slogan of making America Great again, along with the ideologies of the people who believe in this, it takes us back to a time where society had definitive rules and regulation that kept minority groups below the spectrum of freedom, equality and success. When examining the social issues that America is facing, this slogan fits perfectly into understanding the systematic oppression that many African Americans are facing in 2016. In the Grand scheme of it all, a lot progress has been made, socially, for African Americans but, not much has changed when you examine systematic racism.

When Obama was elected as president, there was a sense of relief by African Americans because he was going to be the first African American president. This was a moment that many people felt that racism was finally going to be decimated from societal norms. However, there is more that needs to be done on a systemic level in order for everyone to have an equal base in society. Many people use Obama, and other successful black celebrities to make the point that, there cannot be any so called discrimination because they made it, but that is not the case. These few black Americans cannot represent the betterment of an entire group when the system still needs to be reconstructed. This also cannot be the argument for white Americans to make when the issue of race comes up, because if this was so, then the #BlackLivesMatter movement would not have developed, and gotten stronger during Barack Obamas presidency. As proven by the Trump campaign, America has a long way to go in recognizing the the racial disparity, and the systematic racism that plagues the modern American society.

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