What Toni Morrison wrote just after the 2016 election. She saw what was coming.
So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble.
On Election Day, how eagerly so many white voters—both the poorly educated and the well educated—embraced the shame and fear sowed by Donald Trump. The candidate whose company has been sued by the Justice Department for not renting apartments to black people. The candidate who questioned whether Barack Obama was born in the United States, and who seemed to condone the beating of a Black Lives Matter protester at a campaign rally. The candidate who kept black workers off the floors of his casinos. The candidate who is beloved by David Duke and endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.
I have to remind myself that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.
The great tennis champion Arthur Ashe spoke long ago about being the first black tennis star. He warned that he was easy to accept—modest in appearance, “well-spoken,” and polite. He was acceptable as the token black man. There would be players in the future, he said, who would not fit so comfortably into the elite white world of professional talent. Yes, he saw the Williams sisters coming. It was not okay but accepted as inevitable that a few white players misbehaved. There was plenty of rudeness and poor sportsmanship among white (male) players long before Ashe’s gentle persona made an appearance and reminded people that tennis was a gentlemanly sport. But a few years later Serena raises her voice and suddenly the white world has hysterics.
Sometimes you need one foot outside the lines to see a bad call. Or to make a good one.