A few weeks ago I had to take my kitties to the vet because both River and Jiffy were sneezing, and Jiffy clearly had some type of respiratory infection. Luckily, River did not require any medications and Jiffy only required a couple. After paying a considerable amount for his meds, I booked a Lyft to go home.
The Lyft driver asked me about my cats and began to share stories about cats that he had when he lived in Venezuela. We then discussed his journey to Baltimore and what he thought about our country. We eventually got to politics and he expressed his fears about the immigration policies that have been recently enacted.
“I have worked very hard since coming here. So has my family. We pay taxes, our children are getting an education. We are giving back to the country.”
I conveyed that I agreed with everything he was saying, which is why the next thing he said completely baffled me.
“I do not want to offend you, but…”
Sentences that start like this are always offensive.
“… black people are what’s wrong with this country. They are lazy and don’t want to work. They do not go to school. All they do is commit crimes.”
I sat in the back seat, with my cats in their carriers beside me, wondering how to respond in a way that encompassed two ideas: (1) You are being a f**king racist and (2) please just get me and my cats home safely.
“I think the true issue is that the media only shows us the negative components of underrepresented groups. You, yourself, have experienced this. I am a black woman and I have never been in trouble with the law AND I am getting my PhD in Chemistry.”
There. A direct, non-aggressive , diplomatic response. He continued,
“What Trump really needs to do is kick out all the black people in this country.”
*okay I’m done*
I sat, infuriated and astonished by such ignorance, waiting to get home. Needless to say, I did not leave a tip.
How can someone from such an oppressed group condone the hatred and oppression of another?
I angrily thought about the “conversation” for a few days afterwards. However, instead of wondering why that Lyft driver had such backwards views, I began to think about how those ideals were created. I came to the conclusion that, in order for the 1% to maintain their power and status, they must divide the 99% (the majority) into factions and turn those groups against each other. “Whoa,” you maybe thinking, “that’s kind of a big leap,” but stay with me.
Let’s think objectively for a moment:
- I will proceed to use the popular vote results from the 2016 Presidential Election as the study population.
- According to MSNBC, Hilary Clinton received 64.2 million votes and Donald Trump received 62.2 million votes. Thus, we can assume that 2 million more voters have ideals that are in line with Democratic or liberal views.
- Now, we will consider the diversity of the Democratic and Republican parties. According to a Washington Post article, in 2016, 14% of the Republican Party members were nonwhite and 43% of the Democratic Party members were nonwhite.
Based on these statistics, we can determine that the current political party has views that are in opposition to those of the majority of the American population. Yet, it is the views of the non-representative party that are given the most attention. And how have they been using this platform?
Since the last presidential election, we have seen an increase in hate speech, intolerant behavior, and white supremacy. However, these behaviors are being condoned and perpetrated by police officers, government officials, and yes, the President of the United States. We may see this as ignorance and negligence but the truth of the matter is everything we are observing is being tactically maneuvered… and underprivileged, underrepresented groups are the enemy. And what better way to fight you enemies than to get them to fight each other.
It is naive to think that one of the largest powers in the world is unaware of what they are doing. Even in the case of an unforeseen tragedy, it is when the curtains are pulled and the lights dim that we truly see the face of the performers. And what we have seen is that those in power do not care about helping the oppressed, but securing their own power.
As the 99%, we have the power to change this. We cannot turn against our own because of the media’s divisive portrayal of other minority groups.
I will conclude with a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr…
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”