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GUEST COLUMNIST: The first white president

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Willie Mae Samuel

Willie Mae Samuel, founder and director of the African American Connection for the Performing Arts in Rome

For months now I have been sharing many thoughts and ideas with you for you to ponder. In some instances the words I wrote may make one think that I was in a comfortable mental, emotional spiritual place when I wrote them. I, too, was thinking the same when I put the pen down after closing out the last paragraph each time. I closed out the last line thinking, “Great now this is all that needs to be said.”

But each time that little quiet fellow called conscience would whisper, “No there is still something missing. There is still something that we must face.”

I went about doing some introspection of self as well as others. I continued to walk with that little gnawing thing circling around my head. Last week, I shared the gnawing sensation with my youngest son. He asked, “Do you think that the unsettled emotions could be coming from the fact that — as one writer in the Atlantic Magazine wrote — that Trump is the first white president?” I pondered that for some days, and concluded that the answer to my unsettledness could be because… people, this is true, Trump is the first white president that America has ever had! I was amazed by the thought of that.

I know you are now naming Nixon, Bush, Eisenhower, Truman and Lincoln and the list goes on. No, not white in the sense of nationality or race. White in the sense of beliefs and hard core racist ideology that has haunted this country for ages. We must never forget that it was Donald J. Trump who was white enough to publicly claim that President Obama was not an American citizen and therefore could not produce his U.S. birth certificate. As late as July 2016, a majority of Republican voters doubted that Barack Obama had been born in the United States, which is to say they did not view him as a legitimate president. Republican politicians behaved in the same manner. They acted accordingly, by denying President Obama his final Supreme Court nominee a hearing.

These same followers refused to work with the administration to defend the country against the Russian attack. Before the 2016 election, Obama found no man or woman among the Republicans for a bipartisan response to move on the Russian involvement. Even today there are many Republicans who are refusing to accept the fact that Russia did meddle in our election. Trump has said that it is a witch hunt, but Obama says that it is real. Who do we believe? The power of whiteness. It has eroded the minds of some blacks as well.

People, this is a complex dilemma in which we find ourselves. One Russian stated that the only way the Russians were able to succeed in meddling in our election was because the condition was right. The condition was right because the condition was finally prepared by the first white president of the U.S.A. He was not capable of doing it alone. Trump got much help from other whites who hold similar views, but are not in a position to impact people from the highest position in our country.

Remember you were told earlier that racism is not harmful in and of itself. All of us are racist to a degree. It is only harmful when it is a part of the psyche of an individual who believes that the lowest white man is better than the best black man, and he gets in a position of authority. That is not the final step. After getting in that position, he chooses to use his power to wreak havoc on those he deems lesser or weaker. The Jeff Sessions, and the Steve Bannons, and the Steve Millers, the Kelly Anne Conways and the Lou Dobbs and many more were out there waiting in the wings hoping for a white person with authority to step up and open the door so that white supremacy could walk in.

Out of all 43 Caucasian presidents who have held that position over the years, not one of them was willing to put his racist attitude on the shelf in the Oval office and flaunt it for the world to see with no shame. No 45 is waving the flag saying, “Look at me, I am white. If you don’t believe it by looking at me I suggest that you listen to what comes out of my mouth.”

When Trump was able to call the mothers of the players who kneeled “b—s,” the truth hit me as people might say, “It hit me like a ton of bricks.” This man is a white man through and through. He is a white racist to the core. It took two factors to make it happen, or should I say, to make it surface to the full blown ugliness that it has become. Embedded racism and a black president brought it all forward. Now it is spewing all over the place and many people are confused and puzzled by the display. It is so overt that some are ashamed, and some are happy and some are just flabbergasted. There is no shame to Donald Trump’s game. That is what that racist mentality will do. It makes a man believe that he is always higher than others. He stays on a high. It makes him drunk with himself and takes away his conscience. It can do more damage to the brain than the most potent drugs on the market.

And so the most powerful country in the world has handed over all of its affairs — the prosperity of its entire economy; the security of its 300 million citizens; the purity of its water, the viability of its air, the safety of its food; the future of its vast system of education; the soundness of its national highways, airways, and railways; its nuclear arsenal — to a carnival barker who introduced the phrase “grab ’em by the (slang for a woman’s genitals)” into the national lexicon, and now he has called black players “sons of b—s.”

It is as if the Trump supporters came together and said, “If a black man can be president, then any white man—no matter how low — can be president.” And in that perverse way, the democratic dreams have gone down the drain. Or should I say are going down the drain. There really is no other way to understand the presidency of Donald Trump.

The first white president in American history is also the most dangerous president — and he is made more dangerous still by the fact that those who are charged with analyzing him cannot call out his basic evil nature, because they too are implicated in it. For Pence, McConnell, Ryan to call him out would be to implicate themselves as being just like Trump at the core.

Willie Mae Samuel is the founder and director of the African American Connection for the Performing Arts in Rome.