The Whiteness Of King Trump: Why It Matters

Donald Trump, the avatar of white identity politics
Donald Trump at campaign rally in Florida in January. (Jim Wilson/New York Times; Michael Auslen/Miami Herald)

Donald Trump at campaign rally in Florida in January. (Jim Wilson/New York Times; Michael Auslen/Miami Herald)

“This was a whitelash.” — Van Jones, early morning of November 9, 2016.

“I am the least racist person that you have ever met.” — Donald Trump (more than once) in his presidential campaign.

There’s a very good reason why, at campaign rally after campaign rally, Donald Trump demanded that those dishonest media punks — the ones he successfully, literally corralled — be more expansive with their camerawork and show the world what yuge crowds he had.

It wasn’t just his notoriously childish ego (look at all the friends I got!). Like all demagogues, bullies, and tyrants, Donald Trump wants his enemies, real or imagined, to be afraid. (And why not lean on the oldest method in the world, i.e. strength-in-numbers?)

God help us, it is only a month until Donald J. Trump takes the oath of office — and, already, eagle-eyed lovers of think pieces will note that plenty are being written about how Trump’s choices for administration appointments are shaping up to give us the least diverse Cabinet “in recent American history” — as in: about a quarter-century and some change. Anybody who thinks this is somehow an innocuous “coincidence” — after eight years of the first African-American President of the United States — either doesn’t know much about America or hasn’t been paying much attention for the past 18 months.

Down in sunny Mar-a-Lago, the Apprentice star/PEOTUS is currently taking a break from nominating “people that made a fortune” (and in some cases, like him, lack governing experience) — though, lord knows, he’s not slowing down on his tweeting — so now’s as good a time as any to break down the Trump Cabinet Color Scheme.

Out of 21 confirmed thus far(by Team Trump, of course, not the Senate), here’s the breakdown (with just four more top posts to go…):

White males: 16 (Rex Tillerson, Ryan Zinke, Rick Perry, Andrew Puzder, Scott Pruitt, John Kelly, James Mattis, Steven Mnuchin, Tom Price, Wilbur Ross, Mike Pompeo, Jeff Sessions, Donald McGahn, Michael Flynn, Reince Priebus, and, yes, Stephen Bannon).

White females: 3 (Linda McMahon, Betsy DeVos, and Nikki Haley).

Non-white females: 1 (Elaine Chao).

Non-white males: 1 (Dr. Ben Carson).

The math on display here is not difficult: 19 out of 21 is a ninety percent concentration — of pure whiteness (again, in the penultimate week of 2016 one may give Trump the “benefit of the doubt” on his next appointments, but what’s left is a number you can count on one hand).

Set aside for a moment the fact that Mr. Swamp Drainage is keeping his inner circle filled with some of the most moss-covered insiders this side of Hillary Clinton. Set aside for a moment the fact that having a brain trust filled with so many billionaires — including a minimum-wage-hater like Andrew Puzder — hardly bodes well for the working classes who helped Trump achieve (Electoral College) victory. Set aside for a moment the sheer nihilism — if that’s even a strong enough word — of wanting to hand over agency “leadership” to candidates who have done their damnedest to shut down the very agencies they are now called upon to “lead.”

What about the sheer fact of all those white faces?

This is the part where I’m supposed to say something grand and sweeping like: a 90% Caucasian coalition (with, yeah-I’ll-say-it, a couple of TOKEN BONES thrown to the black and Asian communities) is in no way representative of American demographic reality. And I’d technically be right about that. However (yuge caveat coming here), according to the most recent (i.e. last year) US census information, white people are still holding down a hardy 77% of our nation’s population. Yes, you heard right; despite all those pundits’ (we all know how reliable they are, right?) prophecies about how, 50 years from now or 100 years from now, the United States is gonna finally be a true multicolored melting pot, the numbers in 2016 tell the same old story: White America is still White America (as a matter of fact, the Caucasian population has gone up, not down, almost five full percentage points in five years — one of those statistics, like gun ownership, you might naively assume would make alt-right/alt-white supremacists want to cheerfully chill out a little). In descending order, Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders round out those remaining 23 percentage points. So, unless the Census Bureau is just another out-to-lunch agency (always a possibility to consider in 21st century America), white citizens of the republic (assuming they’re aware of it) can still boast of a more than three-quarters majority (not quite 90%, to be sure, but what’s 13 points?).

In other words (run with me here; in a way, this is even more morally damning than if the country really were as “multicultural” as some fear): in 2017, white America (in terms of political ownership, business ownership, home ownership, gun ownership, any kind of owning you care to name) will still be sittin’ on top of the world, looking down on (non-Caucasian) Creation. It may not always “feel” that way, in Middle America/Rust Belt states, where blue-collar workers have been struggling to survive for at least three generations (beaten down by both Democrat and Republican politicians all too eager to let corporations run roughshod while archaic institutions like unions disappear) — even as it may not always “look” that way, either, in a popular culture where (get this) Hollywood-liberal-elitist wusses actually have the nerve to let actors of color play fictional heroes, from time to time… But the actual demographic reality (y’know, the numbers) says: paranoid hatemongers like Donald Trump’s Minister of Information in fact have very little to worry (or complain) about. Those scary people of color, in America at least, couldn’t “take over the place” if they wanted to. Malcolm X is dead, and The Birth of a Nation (the new one) was really just a movie. The Black Panthers would have found Black Lives Matter as quaint as its name, and white people can reproduce as quickly as the next. You get the idea: just as, when an online troll or the current Troll-Elect issues long-winded rants about how we’re living in a crime-ridden dystopian nightmare, you can just throw out the latest FBI crime statistics (y’know, the same ones the trolls used to lean on before their new hero started making so many speeches about how we’re living in a crime-ridden dystopian nightmare), you can also cite pretty much irrefutable proof that, no, the white race is not under “imminent attack” in the apple-pie-lovin’ US of A. Good job, white people (seriously, give one percent of yourselves another tax break, to show the continued spirit of generosity)!!!

So — why the whitelash? We knew, less than a year ago, that the next Leader of the Free World was gonna be somebody with blue eyes, but there’s still a difference between “underscoring” and rubbing people’s noses in it (Mr. Van Jones got a whiff of this, on the aforementioned “morning after,” when he attempted to have a mature conversation about it with Donald Trump’s former campaign manager). In case just reading the numbers doesn’t quite do it for ya, here’s the handy visual graphic of Trump’s current prospective Cabinet, i.e. all those white faces (you know, like the sea of almost exclusively white people Trump wishes that rally reporters would give a more panoramic view to):

The prospective Trump Cabinet. (Caitlin Dickson/Yahoo News; AP/Getty/Reuters)

The prospective Trump Cabinet. (Caitlin Dickson/Yahoo News; AP/Getty/Reuters)

To take one of those great deductive leaps, could it really, in fact, be simply because we had our first (maybe only) black president, a man who dared, among other things, to run on a platform/catchphrase of “Hope”? How satisfactory of a job he did in fulfilling such hopes, of course, is a matter for the history books (and their writers). But in last week’s round of Information Wars, the current First Lady stated she’s no longer feeling the hope, prompting the President-Elect to retort, in his usual inimitable fashion, that he thinks our current level of hope is “tremendous.” If there’s any kind of a “moral” to this story, perhaps it is something along the lines of: “hope,” like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Is it also skin-deep?

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