Refusing to be labeled as a racist does not make you any less a racist. Trump speaks the language of sexism, racism and White Supremacy and uses it to divide people both internally and externally. Haiti and all of Africa are now defined by the President of the United States as “shit hole countries.” Refugees, legal and illegal, from families containing American citizens are being torn apart and that’s how Trump defines “family values.”
Divisive labeling is a tactic that throws the brain and body into survival-mode where the only type of thinking possible is either-or, black-and-white thinking.
I was talking to a coworker this week and we agreed that we’ve outgrown our previous “Type A” controlling mindset as we’ve gotten older. I think this tends to join hand-in-hand with black-and-white mindset. I see a lot of shades of gray. The unexpected changes in my life are generally not catastrophes. Changing plans during the planned activity isn’t the end of the world. My instinctive need to push people, places and events into categories and assign labels has lessened.
Despite that, the Trump era has brought those issues to the surface again. I do find myself assigning labels again. I try to make them descriptive instead of derogatory, but I’m not always successful. Instead of saying “ignorant sheep,” I say “people who follow rules without really understanding them.” The rise and election of Barack Obama created the Trump backlash because the idealists were disappointed, the cynics were complacent, and the powerful acted. We have to change that. We need coalitions that move beyond bipartisanship. Individuals will need to lead in cohesive ways and admit that they can’t always get everything they want … that compromise is not a dirty word and morality involves more than interpreting “the word of God.”