Ever since the historic 2008 presidential election that ushered in President Barack Hussein Obama as the nation’s first Black president, a subset of the white population who are not comfortable with non-whites holding that office have believed that their country has been hijacked – and they are definitely committed to taking their back!
I still remember the battle cry slogan of the Tea Party “We want our country back.” Although, the Tea Party has faded into oblivion, the extremist ideologies and ideas that created the party are still alive and well today in America.
The basis for my argument is simply rooted in the fact that Donald has positioned himself in the election as the “Great White Hope” and he’s running solely on the premise of making America great again – which is a euphemism for restoring the white hope in a democracy that works for them. White people who buy into Trump’s ideology are nostalgic about the good ole days where they controlled all of this country’s political and economic resources. Although racism still exists, the idea of a solely white hegemonic governing structure is diminishing. This is what whites are afraid of and their chants for the restoration of America’s greatness has everything to do with this loss of power and influence, because we know that America has never been great for American Indians, African Americans, Latinos or any other person of color.
In the face of this white fear, we have a presidential candidate running on the premise that he can quell that fear. But what if Trump loses? What happens then? Historically, we know that whenever the prospects of that Great White Hope diminishes, violence erupts!
In 1908, Jack Johnson, defeated Tommy Burns, a White man, to become the first Black World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. Johnson’s decisive victory over Burns produced a profoundly vicious rage in the white community. In defeated, a delegation began to search for a “White Redeemer” who would be tasked with restoring the dignity of whites tarnished by defeating Johnson and reclaim the heavyweight title.
James J. Jeffries, the former heavyweight champion of the world who had retired in 1905 undefeated, was called upon to fight and defeat Jack Jackson. Jeffries promised to reclaim the heavyweight champion title for the white race.
This fight tagged the “Fight of the century” took place on July 4, 1910 in Reno Nevada. Jeffries, the anointed white hope, was humiliated in the 15th round before about 20,000 spectators. While the Black community celebrated this victory, whites took to violence across the country directed against blacks that resulted to the deaths many blacks.
I hope I haven’t lost you! You might be wondering what a 1910 boxing match between Jack Johnson and James Jeffries have to do with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Although, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are not boxers they are both contending for the presidency of the United States. This historical correlation was made to establish the point that the threats made by Trump’s supporters shouldn’t be taken for granted. History is replete with examples of the consequences for whites losing power, even if that power is in name only.
As a black man in America, this makes me dread both victory and defeat of Donald Trump. Like many, I am afraid of how he will govern if he wins. And if he loses, I ask myself about the backlash in communities of color. That being said, I refuse to be held back by fear – I am voting to contribute my quota to his defeat.
For now, what remains incontestable is the fact that Donald Trump has been established as the “Great White Hope.” But the reality is that he is not. No one actually is. The more and more we continue to propagate this ideology of supremacy, in fact, the further away whites come from the hope and change they so desperately crave. Which is perhaps the greatest irony, and also the greatest tragedy.