Monday, November 07, 2016

The White America I Know.

I had a quick coffee with a friend of mine who said that he noticed that all my Facebook posts showed that I hate the current Republican Presidential candidate, Donald Trump. He’s right. I can’t stand Mr. Trump’s candidacy and I can’t fathom how anyone with a brain and a heart could even consider what he says seriously. The idea that he could actually be the president of what is the most benign superpower in the history of the world is not just frightening, it’s repulsive.

I’ve had people tell me that Mr. Trump would be good for America because he speaks his mind and he’s doesn’t care about political correctness. I’ve had people tell me that he’s the outsider we need to shake up the rotten system that has made America a very unequal place. More importantly, I’ve heard people tell me that he’s expressing what White America wants to hear – he is the champion for White America.

To be fair to Mr. Trump, he’s made this election entertaining. The comedians have had a field day with him. I’ve become particularly fond of watching him get lampooned by Trevor Noah and John Oliver. I also give him credit for dragging out Melania, who has all the physical attributes I am attracted to in a woman.

While, all this is very nice and very entertaining, I do believe that the Presidential election should be about something more than what my sister calls my dirty little pleasures. At the very least, a President, particularly one as venerated as the US President, should try and embody the best of a nation. To a large extent, many of the previous presidents have tried to do this. Whatever, you may think of them and the actual results of their policies, both Ronald Regan and Bill Clinton tried to be about opportunity. The Bushes sold a message of America as a force of freeing up the world from tyranny. Obama got people excited because America had looked beyond colour and elected a dark-skinned man who happens to be very intelligent.

Sure, America’s not perfect and has screwed things up for many parts of the world. However, when you look at the overall picture, America and Americans have been a force for good. When people tell me that Trump is speaking for White America, I am very offended because the America and the White America that I know is nothing like the one he’s supposedly speaking for.

I guess you could say that I hit a major jack pot when I ran into White America. The first strike was when my mother married, Lee, my first stepfather. Lee took me into his life and loved me without ever thinking whether I was his flesh and blood. Whenever we transferred, he’d make it a point that I was able to receive the same good things that my sister, his flesh and blood received. The love and affection that he provided me didn’t just end with him. He made it a point that I became part of a family – which included his parents, Grandpa Hart and Grandma Milly. I remember, Old Hart telling me, “I’m so used to thinking of you as my grandson that I forget that my son isn’t your dad.” Then, there’s my stepsister, Carol and her family. Although there’s not been a legal relationship between us for 20 odd years, she and her family continue to welcome me as part of the family.

My second strike with White America, comes in the shape of my step-grandmother, Joan, mother of my stepmother, Nora (Dad’s second wife and Max’s mom). Joan, bless her soul was one of the kindest people you could find. She didn’t just take me in as her grandson but also welcomed my friend, Joe, who would drive up 5-hours from Indiana to spend the Sumer with her in Chicago. Of all the Christmas presents that I treasure the most, is the fact that she compiled a list of every email I wrote to her while I was at university.

Yes, I’ve had my run ins with what you’d call arrogant American expatriates here but thanks to my experiences of family in “White America” I know that on the average, White American’s are decent people.

Yes, it’s sometimes funny to see how untraveled many White Americans are. To many, a long-distance holiday is going to the mall in the next town. However, while they may not travel out of their home state, Americans are probably the most welcoming people on the planet, a view also echoed by veteran Saudi Journalist, Khaleed Al-Maeena (A view he echoed in 2003, during the invasion of Iraq, which many Arabs were against). Lilly white American families has created plenty of programs for kids from the brown, black and yellow parts of the world to taste life in the good parts of America.

My family in “White America” has become diverse and nobody seems to bat an eyelid. There’s me from Singapore. There’s a step-nephew who married a Jewish girl and a step-niece who married a Muslim convert. A step-brother of mine, married a Chinese girl. My “White American” family isn’t a wealthy Beverly Hills living one either. They feel the pain and issues brought about by America’s economic climate. Yet, never have I heard any one of them begrudge the people from elsewhere. If anything, they respect the Mexican guys for working hard.

This is the White America that I know. So, when I look at people getting excited by Mr. Trump and his rhetoric against Mexicans, Muslims and so on, I’m stunned. I don’t understand how people outside America can cheerfully tell me that he’s speaking for “White America.”

Donald Trump isn’t speaking for White America because I know White America and he’s saying the things that I know the real White America would be offended by.

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