The Trump flag in my neighborhood
By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
You can’t miss it. The house sits off a main road in my county, about five minutes’ drive from my home. Three flag poles; three flags in support of Trump. And in a neighborhood that is overwhelmingly African American and pro-Democratic Party voters.
Yes, these are white folks and, yes, they have the absolute right to fly their flags. There is the First Amendment to the Constitution. But each time that I drive by their house, which I must do with frequency, I ask myself the same question: if this was a Black family in an overwhelmingly white neighborhood, dominated by pro-Republican voters, how long would they be able to fly a red, black & green, Black Liberation flag or to fly a flag in support of the Black Lives Matter movement?”
I think that you know the answer.
In my life I have found African Americans to be very tolerant of different political views (we can be somewhat less than tolerant when it comes to matters such as religion and sexual orientation, but that is for a different discussion). In many of our families we have wide differences from conservative to Black nationalist to communist, and it is recognized that there can be legitimate points of view.
White America, overall, is much less tolerant and this is certainly the case within conservative white America. It is more than lack of tolerance, that is at issue here. There is an assumption, as in the case of the family with the Trump flags, that they will face no ramifications for flaunting the images of a racist, sexist, xenophobic President in a predominantly Black community. No ramifications! Yet were the shoe to be on the other foot, it is highly likely that the family would have come under physical assault by right-wingers, and quite possibly run out of town.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that these white Trumpsters get run out of the neighborhood. I am suggesting, however, that white privilege plays itself out in ways that is always in our faces, but becomes invisible to most white people. An African American family flying a red, black & green flag in a conservative white neighborhood would be considered insane, provocative, and quite possibly having brought down the wrath of white conservatives on them deservedly…unless, of course, the commentators were, themselves, Black.
I am glad that Trump is gone. I wish that he was relocating to an iceberg in the Arctic, but such is life. I know, though, that the Trump flags of my ‘neighbors’ will probably not be lowered any time soon because the problem is not Trump, nor the flags. The problem is that there is a virulent right-wing populist movement, and Trump was only one of many manifestations of this evil.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is an author and activist. He is a past president of TransAfrica Forum.
13 thoughts on “The Trump Flag in my Neighborhood”
Thank you for the truths. The political polarization and boldness of white supremacists is intensifying in overwhelmingly white communities, too. I live in Garrett County, Md., a 99% white county bordering Pa. and W.Va. where 79% of registered voters voted for Trump. Despite this dominance, nearly everyone in the community who posted a Biden/Harris sign saw the sign stolen or vandalized. The vandalism far exceeds anything seen before Trump’s ascendence and it preceded a recent incident where a Middle Eastern family visiting the tourism-based county was harassed by someone wearing KKK white.
Thank you Brother. I have to give some thought to your view. My take on “The ways of white folks” (not the book) is they don’t think that there will not be any consequences for their actions. I’m sure that the majority of those rioters that were arrested for storming the Capitol Building were stunned.to find out that they did something wrong. I loved the off duty cop yelling “You’re treating me like a Black person” as the cops cuffed him. I see white privilege every day here in New York City. People in general have to feel that there is something good (superior) about them selves. I’m guilty of it myself. As I get further away from the truth, I was a better and better basketball player in high school. I see white folks everyday on my job that have nothing going for themselves (physically, mentally or financially) that seem compelled to try and make you feel small, so they can feel bigger when they come in contact with people of color. When you take action to give their behavior consequences, they deflect, lie and even cry and tell you about their mate and kids. Most of the people of color on my job, that live in the Poconos, were greeted with distain and hostility when they first moved out there. They quickly learn that regular trips to the gun range with different weapons makes white people very friendly. Consequences (implied, of course). The Deacons for Defense IMPLIED, that if you go get your gun and run up in here… well… there’ll be consequences. Every place they organized, lynching’s reduced dramatically. I apologize. I’m starting to ramble.
I would like to say that I admire and appreciate you. I met you at CBTU, took your workshop twice and had the honor of shearing breakfast with you and you Wife. I posted a picture of you and myself, post-workshop on my Facebook page and my friend, Muata replied “Fletcher is a beast”. Well,, If someone like Muata feels power like that coming from you, I just had to do my homework. Yeah, he was right. You have “The Fire” and you are smart enough to know how to use it to be productive. You inspired me and are one of the reason I changed the way I go about getting things accomplished. Thank you Big Brother and keep on doing what you do.
Thanks so much for this. I am honored.
I agree with the points that you have raised at the top of your note. You are so correct about the relative expectations of whites–generally–when it comes to consequences. It plays itself out in so many ways. I also hear you about the Deacons.
It is very important that we continue to point out the manner in which a racial differential in treatment (i.e., privilege) unfolds. This is one reason that Biden’s response to the coup attempt on 1/6 was so important, i.e., pointing out how those events would have played out had it been African American and Latin@ protesters.
Thanks for your response.
Thanks for your insight. Trumpism goes beyond Trump. That’s the true to understand.
While there is nothing to disagree with in your analysis, my experience may offer a glimmer of hope. I live in a racially diverse (but still majority-white) working class neighborhood where the Black Lives Matter signs outnumbered the Biden/Harris signs, which outnumbered the Trump signs by a many-to-one margin. Indeed, in this little pocket of around 1200 homes, I counted the Trump signs on less than 10 fingers. In August we had a Black Lives Matter march in our neighborhood that drew 100 participants, and though all of the marchers were white, we walked for 2 hours, and were greeted with appreciative waves and thank yous from white and Black residents alike.
Then came the attempted white supremacist coup on January 6th. One of my neighbors chose THAT day to debut a giant “Trump 2020” flag. They were immediately excoriated and shamed by many of us on the neighborhood discussion list. This week they posted a long reaction to some anonymous letter they claimed to have received on their door, allegedly explaining why displaying that flag placed them on the wrong side of history. That sparked another round of protest among fairer-minded neighbors, until the thread was closed by moderators. The next day, the Trump flag was gone.
The trumpists were only made to feel defensive as they dug in their heels, but, in my view, they were probably irredeemable, anyway. The public, majoritarian response, however, showed them, and all, that they were outnumbered. Our neighborhood mounted a rational, honest, non-violent response and prevailed.
Yet, it was still an example of white privilege, at least in the sense that those of us responding all had internet access, and felt free to engage. The neighborhood list is but a small subset of the whole population here, and, though we have Somali, Salvadoran, Mexican, Bhutanese and multi-generation Black folks throughout the area, none of them appear to be subscribed. But to the extent that that Trump flag may have made our non-white neighbors feel less safe, the fact remains that we took a stand against the threat.
It’s not a big thing, but it’s a start. I think if a Black neighbor were to display an African liberation flag here (or if a Mexican-american neighbor were to display a Mexican flag, etc.) most of us would have their back.
What a great story! And the issue of standing up is the example that we need. This will become increasingly important when liberals start caving into conservatives, the latter being the ones who will suggest that taking a stand against Trump, the coup people and the rightwing populist movement as a whole is tearing us apart. Basta! We must stand firm.
I live in a small town with 55/45% Rep to Dem split. But the Trumpers are very big on flags and banners. Thankfully most took them down after Jan 6 riot. Unfortunately, I have to walk past one particular diehard family who sports 2 banners from high trees. One is Trump with ‘no more bs’ and the other is Trump with ‘f… your feelings’. Little school kids ride bus past this everyday. It would lead to an uproar and possibly much worse if one of the few Black families in town flew a BLM banner with similar words below.
I hear you! Thanks for this note.
I I am so glad I ran across this blog. I too live and drive past this house every day. I felt some form of anxiety every time I would drive passed, however I feel some sort of relief now that 2 of the 3 were pulled down. I have to tell myself it was because of the events on 1/6, am I being naive? Possibly, however I have to for my sanity.
I also agree and have noted we as a people are too accepting and tolerant, but what choice do we have? Any form of aggression we know we will be seen as the villains, police called and then… well you know what the possibilities are when the police are called. Thank you for your prospective. I will be following
Bill, thank you for this story. I live in a mixed income, multi-racial section of Howard County. There are several Trump flags still flying in the neighborhood. But, there is one sign that is a first for me: “No to Socialism. No to Racism. Vote Republican!”
Thanks for this. The slogan you saw is interesting in multiple levels. The Republicans are engaging in red-baiting. But the other thing that is in operation is how THEY use the term “racism.” They are not necessarily using it the same way that you are. It is quite common in Republican circles to identify any anti-racism rhetoric or action as…racism. Even discussing racial differentials is considered “racists” by many on the Right.
I have found that in the view of many on the right, if you raise a grievance against racial injustice, you are , in essence, committing the first offense, since the injustice you object to, in their view, doesn’t exist. That’s how they rationalize accusing protesters and civil rights activists, or even people like Obama of “sowing racial division” , while erroders of voting rights and uniformed killers of non-white civilians, and overtly bigoted politicians are never accused of the same.
By that same illogic, social service programs and federal subsidies to the poor are “wasteful”, “socialism”, or “create dependency” while massive tax cuts for the wealthy are… no comment.
It is the way of the world.