Like McIntosh, I observe little that suggests America has learned anything about race over the past 30 years besides how better to conceal its racism. Trump’s election may have made some anti-racism work easier—getting butts in seats and books in hands—but it also gave well-meaning white people a monster next to which their casual racism now seems tame. It is enough to admit racism exists, that whiteness might be a problem. Any lower and the bar will be in Hades.
Because it will all be over someday, and then we will have to reckon or the beneficiary of all of this will be Nice Polite Republicans who deplore openly calling a black person the N-word while closing low-income women’s health clinics.
I don’t for a second think the GOP wanted Trump in charge right now, but once they got him, boy did they ever see his uses and maybe this is the biggest one: He gives us a monster to hunt, a grotesque creature locked up in a tower to shake our pitchforks and torches at. He is real, and he is dangerous, and the gargoyles and serpents surrounding him do genuine evil in his name.
But let’s not pretend the countryside stops burning once we rid the castle of the beast. The work of reckoning with the systems we have created and enforced along racial lines since this country’s beginnings is the work of years, and it’s not just in the capital. It’s on every street, in every school, around every corner. I can’t wait until Trump is out of office and we don’t have to pay attention to his stupid tweets anymore but if the kids stay in the cages we haven’t won shit.
Slay the dragon, sure. But then tear down the castle and use the stones to pave a market road. Melt down the candelabras and sell off the art and give the riches of the kingdom to the poorest of the serfs. Let the princes till the soil a while.