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The Voice of the Black Community

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The ‘Trump effect’ hits the Triangle
 
Published Tuesday, August 6, 2019
by Lori D.R. Wiggins, Correspondent

RALEIGH –  No matter where you live, it’s tough to miss the nationwide public onslaught of bullying that copycats the dehumanizing and racist rhetoric of President Donald Trump, and boldly invades, rudely disrupts and increasingly renders fatal even the simplest daily activities and interactions.

If you’re living in Raleigh – or, perhaps, around the bend in Clayton or up the road in Greenville, the repeated national spotlight is a clear reminder of how close to home the sentiments travel: what Trump says, his supporters feel emboldened to repeat and do.

It happened at a Clayton Domino's, where three African American teens sharing a snack one bought from the restaurant were kicked out for “loitering” by two white employees who threatened to call the police if they didn’t comply.

And then there’s the viral video of an altercation at Bonefish Grill in Raleigh’s North Hills, where a white woman, Nancy Goodman, complained that a group of black women dining nearby were being too loud, viciously confronted them and called them “stupid n----rs.” Goodman, 71, has refused to apologize, saying she would use the racial slur against them again. 

The result, say some Raleigh residents, is a social and political climate of blatant discrimination, misogyny and racism that bodes a history-repeating return to 1940s Holocaust mentality, 17th century sexism, and 1900s Jim Crow laws – all in 2019. 

“It’s awfully coincidental, the timing of everything,” said Shelley Winters, former chairwoman of the Raleigh Citizens Advisory Council who now serves on the city’s Planning Commission. “The rhetoric is becoming more frequent; it’s escalating and it’s getting louder. What is difficult for me is the silence I have heard everywhere else. Where are the other voices to say, ‘This is unacceptable’? I’m not hearing that.”

Like Goodman, Trump offends, but avoids apology - with impunity. “It’s just an indication of people feeling they can be open about who they are and how they truly feel because our president does it,” Ray Taylor said of public racism. “People are clearly more bold now, feeling it’s OK to be a bigot, a misogynist, a racist because the leader of the free world carries himself that way.”

It’s an age-old tactic to “reinforce the idea that black people are supposed to just accept anything that happens to them; that black people or any other people of color are not allowed to stand up for themselves,” Taylor said. And it’s increasingly familiar across generations. “It’s like we’re back in the Jim Crow era; like people are stupid and can’t see what’s going on,” she said. “But we do know what’s going on.”

For the first time in more than 100 years, the U.S. House rebuked Trump’s recent attack on four U.S. Congress women of color by telling them to go back to the “broken and crime infested” countries they came from," calling it racist in a 240-187 vote along party lines that signaled political divides over race and ethnicity.

Sure, Taylor acknowledges, “People are calling him out, but nobody is holding him accountable, so others do it freely, too, without fear of repercussions.

“People really need to pull together and hold our government officials and public establishments accountable; they’re the ones responsible for implementing real change through real consequences. Otherwise, it could lead to another civil war if something is not done. People are getting fed up with the blatant disrespect and racism, and who can blame them? We’re not the same people of the Jim Crow era.”

L. Grimes agrees. From threats to voting rights in recent elections and election infractions that have warranted a do-over in a state congressional race to attempts to usurp Gov. Roy Cooper’s power, Regular Joes and politicians alike are taking privileges to disregard, disrespect and discriminate nobody has a right to take, she said.

“It’s a never a right, but he (Trump) emboldens them to think it is a right they can take; that they have a right to do it,” Grimes said. “It’s obvious that the present administration would like to see us taken back to the era of Jim Crow, and it’s become evident that there are so many people out there – we saw it when the House returned to the Democrats –who don’t feel that way. Unfortunately, there are way too many people who do.”

Grimes recounted a story of a white woman refusing to get on an elevator with her and her husband, who are black, while another older white couple didn’t hesitate and initiated a cordial conversation. “We should always be alert to it and we should be aware of the signs of it, but we’ve also got to be aware that it’s not all white people. We cannot always expect it to happen.”

In an email sent by spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts, the Florida-based Bonefish parent company, Bloomin’ Brands, Inc., responded: “We do not tolerate hate speech or disrespect in our restaurants. Our team takes this seriously and is providing additional training to our staff for situations such as these that escalate quickly. We are saddened by what happened and are committed to doing everything we can to ensure guests get the courtesy and respect they expect and deserve – every time.”

Winters, a sixth-generation Raleigh native nurtured by a legacy of community stalwarts and pioneers, turns an eye toward how communities could suffer the fallout. “I feel like I’m entering into a world my grandparents lived in,” she said. “Living in the South, I am accustomed to dealing with microaggressions, but as it gets louder, it’s harder for people to ignore.”

To “turn a deaf ear” may do more harm than good, she added. “If it happens and no one responds, are you then emboldened to take it even further?” 

 

Comments

Well said and we'll written.
I can really feel a difference in how I am treated in N.C. (Especially in Oxford) since Trump has been in office.
Posted on August 7, 2019
 

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