Oh, look. The president has a birth certificate. Apparently he isn't a sleeper terror agent trying to bring down the country. What a relief.
But even after Obama's press conference on Wednesday, during which he revealed the document that some people claimed didn't exist, Donald Trump and his fellow Birthers haven't given up the fight. I've attempted to walk away from the Trump ridiculousness — the Birther crap that's ignited the media again is extremely boring and, from my perspective, pretty damn insulting.
Say what you will about playing the race card (as Trump is currently doing), but it's really hard for a black American to watch the first black president get treated like no other president before him: basically being forced to show his teeth, metaphorically speaking, and even as he does, having the rich white guy say that he needs to look and see if things actually check out.
But hey, in the good ole' US of A, this is par for the course — the minority course.
What's bugging me the most during this nonstop coverage of Trump-assery isn't the idiotic nonsense that he's saying — the latest is that he's done a "great service" by provoking a response from Obama. It's the questions that are not being asked or examined. Perhaps out of fear of being perceived as race-baiters, virtually no one within the mainstream media, outside of a small few, will actually point out that race is dripping from almost all of the words for which Trump has been getting coverage.
Since the rise of President Obama, there has been an embargo on calling out racial BS. Because the country is so supposedly past race, we aren't allowed to deal with it when it comes up, unless the issue is how white men built America or how white men are having their rights taken away. Race is now the territory of a select few (the Revs. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and so on) who have yelled about race so much already that in the year 2011, people roll their eyes when they're on TV.
Many news organizations cover Trump as if they're covering a circus act. They give us the nod and wink and point at the crazy billionaire, but they aren't acknowledging that they are the ones giving him the platform to spread this specialized (and racialized) commentary. His coded language may not set reporters' hearts aflutter — outside of Fox News — but it speaks to a group of whites who, while they would never come out and say such unpopular things, sure as hell understand them.
Let's take three of the magical Trump-isms that have hit the street in the past few weeks.
Obama: Affirmative Action Figure
"Obama had horrendous grades! He only got into Harvard via affirmative action! Good white students have tried to get into Harvard, and they were bounced, but the Negro who wasn't even trying got in!"
Now, a lot of you with common sense probably thought, "Um … if Obama got in with affirmative action and became the president, isn't that the best advertisement for affirmative action ever?" Sure. That is, if you cared about the historical context for affirmative action in the first place. Other people don't agree. They look at affirmative action as yet another way to cater to minorities — you know, like white women, who are the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action.
It's not really necessary for me to explain how this particular talking point works. It's been explained ad nauseam by many. Even the way Trump explains why he was so interested in seeing the president's birth certificate is a classic game of "Look at the other! He might not be from here! His real certificate might say he's a Muslim!"
And God forbid that it says that, because of course, when you're born into the world, you're forced to keep the religion (even super-evil religions like Islam) of your parents. What? That's not how it works? Oh. Let's move on.
Relations With "the Blacks"
We all shook our heads and did a collective "Really?" when Trump bragged about his great relationship with "the blacks." This statement was immediately followed by Trump's commentary about how it's "frightening" that so many blacks support Obama.
"The blacks" went full swing on him for this, but one group wasn't upset at all — the white Americans who have thought or perhaps even talked out loud about the blacks: "That doesn't make him racist. I mean, come on! You're going to attack Trump for a simple slip of the tongue? This is what's wrong with the liberals and their political correctness. White people can't say anything!"
And voilà. Support for Trump stays amazingly high within conservative circles, while the media, which are largely responsible for his rise in the GOP ranks, act flabbergasted by his popularity. We aren't postracial, no matter how much everyone says we've gotten past our race issues or denies the racist language of so many in the GOP — including Trump. Perhaps there should be some rephrasing: The folks who have gotten past race are largely the same folks who didn't have to deal with it in the first place. Privilege has its, well, privileges.
Jesse Jackson recently came out and said that the Birther nonsense is racial code. Is it really code when anyone who's paying attention can plainly see it? The media are so afraid of playing the "race card" that when something is actually about race, they stand impotent.
It's this failure to call Trump and others like him on what they're doing that keeps Trump looking like a contender within the GOP presidential-nominee race. And if Trump isn't aware of the code he's dropping, he's more ignorant than we could ever imagine.
Many people, myself included, are full of rage after the president's birth certificate press conference and the crowing from Trump that immediately followed. I've had friends shed tears over the overt racism seen in Trump's messaging and its delivery through the mainstream media. Some people have asked, "What do we do now?"
I think the answer is simple: We hold the media responsible. Rage without action equals complacency. We can't allow this type of backward messaging to go unchallenged. We can't be afraid of the race card because, for millions and millions, it's not a card. It's their life.
To allow the silencing of real issues out of discomfort or fear is unacceptable. Not calling out racism doesn't make the act less racist. It makes an entire race of people less American.
Elon James White is a writer and satirist and host of the award-winning video and radio series This Week in Blackness. Listen Monday to Thursday at 1:30 p.m. EST at TWIB.FM and watch at TV.TWIB.ME/LIVE. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr.