AFRICANGLOBE – Anti-racist commentator Tim Wise perfectly explains how Trump is so successful in just three minutes. According to Wise, Trump’s meteoric ascension to the top of the polls is just the latest in a centuries-long trend.
“When we look around and we see today, in our politics, a rich white man telling working-class white people that their problem is brown people,” Tim Wise begins, “we need to understand the historical pedigree of that.”
Wise explained that whiteness, a concept born in the 17th century, is a power structure that relies on dividing and conquering people of European descent. In the early days of the colonies, enslaved Black and indentured servants shared solidarity with white slaves and indentured servants, as both were property of elite landowners. Through this kinship, Black and white slaves and indentured servants took part in various armed uprisings.
But those landowners soon realized that their grip on power could be solidified by giving white-skinned indentured servants power over enslaved Black by creating a race-based hierarchy.
“They created this mentality that said, ‘You’re now a member of the white race, you’re on our team. You’re wearing our uniform. Now, you’re at the end of the bench, you may not get in the game, but you’re on our team,’” Wise explained.
After creating the concept of whiteness, wealthy landowners deputized poor whites to go on slave patrols to police enslaved Blacks to quell any inkling of rebellion.
“They didn’t really give them any land or any real power, except the power to control people of color, which is why folks of color say — and they are right in saying — that modern policing traces to the system of slave patrols in slavery,” Wise said.
“Even though you might not have much, at least you’re not Black. At least you’re not indigenous. At least you’re not Mexican. At least you’re not Chinese, working on the railroads to build the transcontinental economy,” Wise said around the two-minute mark of the video. “You may not have much, but you at least have, as W.E.B. DuBois said, the ‘psychological wage of whiteness.’”
Wise further contextualized Trump’s popularity by alluding to how white landowners convinced poor whites in the South to fight for the cause of slavery in the Civil War, even though those people would have jobs if slavery ceased to exist.
“Why would you do that? Why would I go fight for your property? Well because you told me that if I don’t, these slaves are gonna take my job! No, fool, they got your job, that’s the point!” Wise said. “If you gotta charge a dollar a day, and you can make them work for free because you own ’em, guess who got the gig, Jack? Not you!”
Wise further illustrated how racism undermined the class struggle in the early days of the industrial revolution, when white union bosses discouraged Black membership, even though it would have strengthened their bargaining position.
“When you go out on strike, they can’t replace your happy ass with the brown folk that you didn’t want next to you in the first place. Because when they do replace you with them, then you will blame them, and not the elites,” Wise said.
“You see how this works? It’s a trick. It has worked for hundreds of years and it is working on some folk right now, and it is our job to resist that with every fiber of our being,” he concludes.
This is not the first time a Trump has come along, and it probably won’t be the last. Thankfully, Tim Wise and so many other activists are there to peel the mask back on this hateful rhetoric.