Trump loves to attack people who don’t like him, people who call him out or people who don’t agree with him. However, Trump reserves the word “infested” to attack Black people and people of color. The most recent time he’s used the word is to attack the people of Baltimore, Maryland and Elijah Cummings, a Black man who is a representative for Maryland’s 7th District.
Quite a few people excuse this, stating that Fox recently aired a story about infestation in Baltimore and that is what Trump is referencing. Or that Trump has always used this word regarding crime so why is it an issue.
That does not alter the fact that Trump uses the word “infest” when talking about areas where the population is largely non-white (sanctuary cities, urban areas, countries) or when targeting a person who is non-white.
Quite simply, Black and Brown is not synonymous with crime or rodent infestation. There are areas that are white and have crime. There are areas all over that have a rodent problem.
Yet the word “infest” is only used when talking about Black and Brown people.
It’s racist. When a person is white, and only uses a positive or negative word to describe a particular non-white group/individual it is racist.
While some may ask how, when their is no reference to Black or Brown people, is it racist; they should start with vital questions for themselves. Oftentimes, we are quick to ask questions of other people without first critiquing ourselves regarding why we are even lobbing questions at them. Some questions to ask before questioning others are:
Do I have first hand experience with the various ways racism is shown? If white, the answer is no.
If no, the next question that needs to be asked is: When and who decides something is racist?
“It’s about race if a person of color thinks it’s about race”.
Writer Ijeoma Oluo concisely and unequivocally states where the power to determine racist words or behaviors lie.
And it is not with white people who will never experience the constant physical, emotional and psychological bombardment that comes with living in a white, capitalistic patriarchy, no matter how many “reverse racism” tweets they make.
Refer to Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want To Talk About Race for a deeper explanation as to why the decision on what’s racist has to rest with the target rather than the party existing and benefitting from a white supremacist society.
Unfortunately, that is not the only problem when it comes to racist moments.
The other is whiteness’s need to rationalize and excuse moments of racism, except for where it’s so blatantly obvious that they would appear to be a fool to discount it — and even then, you’ll encounter some who will try. If they can find another excuse they will latch onto it either not realizing or ignoring the fact that in this society those terms they bandy about in lieu of racial slurs are still targeting Black people and people of color. The dog whistles that whiteness employs to maintain their veneer of civility.
This method of rationalization is a staple of a white supremacist society; ever since racial slurs and insults were no longer acceptable in “polite society”, they’ve had to find new ways of talking and targeting Black and Brown people without stating it.
Similar to jury duty. They can strike a Black person or person of color for jury duty because they are Black or a person of color…as long as they don’t say they are doing it because the person is Black or Brown. They can employ any other excuse — attire, piercings, tattoos, any other way to shield their racism and it is acceptable.
There has to be room for doubt for whiteness and white people to go, “maybe you’re mistaken”, “he said he did it because of this, not because you’re Black.”
White people need to defer to the targets of racism when it comes to whether something is racist.
Also keep in mind, having a few BIPOC say something isn’t racist doesn’t make it so either because all BIPOC in the colonized U.S have trauma that comes with generational dehumanization and negative imagery, courtesy of the “greatest country in the world”.
Some of us have not unpacked the extent that whiteness has shaped our views on BIPOC. Some are in the process of lifting the lid on the next layer. It’s a never ending process. Just when you think you’re done, there’s another box hidden in the corner under some cobwebs.
This has to be a joint effort, with Black people and people of color leading the conversation when comfortable, and white people stepping in when needed.