'We don't see color,' Trump supporters say as they tell their kids to fear Black Lives Matter
Most of Donald Trump’s supporters don’t think they’re racists. They don’t think Trump is racist, despite his well-documented, decades-long history of racism. And that’s the thing: Too many white Americans have defined racism down to the point where an active KKK member might not make the cut.
The Washington Post’s Robert Klemko talked to Trump supporters outside his Tulsa rally last month, looking at Black Lives Matter protesters, and found a series of cases in point—people claiming not to be racist while telling the children and grandchildren accompanying them things about race and anti-racist protest that would not be out of place in a “how to raise a racist” manual.
Racial colorblindness was big with the Trump supporters—as it remains with too many liberals. But here’s a great example of how flawed that ideology is, coming from a man who said of protesters that “I don’t think they even understand what they want.” Why doesn’t he think protesters know what they want? “Because black lives do matter. Every life matters. I have lots of white friends and black friends. I’m out in the oil field. We don’t see color. You either work, pull your weight, or you go home. There’s no color.”
That’s it in a nutshell: “I don’t see color” and “all lives matter” come from the same place. It’s a place of refusal to acknowledge that the system doesn’t operate exactly the same for everyone, and that those differences bear in any way on how we see the world around us.
It’s the worldview that turns virtually anything Black Lives Matter protesters do into an example of violence, no matter what. One woman, there with her grandson, told Klemko the protesters “were parading around fairly peacefully. Their speech wasn’t necessarily peaceful.”
The protesters’ behavior was peaceful, but that wasn’t enough. Speech that made this woman uncomfortable was quickly filed under the category of violence. The same woman really wanted to talk about Democrats and the KKK in the pre-Civil Rights era, by the way, rather than talking about any more recent examples of racism. Like, say, any of dozens of things Donald Trump has said.
Another man, there with his granddaughter, watched a white man jump out of a truck and pepper-spray Black protesters, then said “I’ll just tell her it’s wrong the way they’re doing things.” As in, the protesters, not the guy with the pepper spray. “Violence is not the answer; it’s not the way we grew up learning about the history of our country.” Again, the violence he thought he saw came from the protesters, not from the guy with the pepper spray.
But this father may have taken the cake. Jeff Brown was outside the Trump rally selling flags such as “an Oklahoma flag with the Osage Nation buffalo-skin shield mashed up with the Confederate battle flag” or saying “Trump 2020: Make Liberals Cry Again.” His view of the Confederate flag? He used to think it represented slavery, but “I have since learned a lot of other variations of the history,” so “I think that it’s allowed for people to have their own interpretations from their family and their experience.” His 12-year-old son was with him, wearing a T-shirt saying “LGBT”—where the L was for the Statue of Liberty, the G was for guns, the B was for beer, and the T was for Trump.
”Joshua’s going to have to form his own opinions,” Brown said. “In our family, we use our brains.” We can take issue with the idea that any brain use has been involved in moving from the historically accurate view that the Confederate flag represents slavery to concluding that hey, reasonable minds can disagree about whether the flag of a nation formed to defend slavery, a flag resurrected decades later as pushback to civil rights efforts, in fact represents slavery. But the idea that Brown wants his son to form his own opinions is even more questionable here. Joshua is home-schooled. What about keeping a kid at home to be educated solely by his parents says “we’re looking for him to form his own opinions”?