Political journalist Jamelle Bouie talks racial divide, Trump at Diversity Lecture Series

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Hitting on two hot topics last night, racial injustice and Donald Trump’s character, Jamelle Bouie, CBS political analyst and Slate Magazine chief political correspondent had an explanation for the civil unrest in our country. At the 22nd annual Diversity Lecture Series Bouie delivered his presentation he titled “The Civil Rights Movement: A Second Redemption.”

“If he wins the White House, given the tenor of his campaign, the tenor of his support, we may well enter a period where this kind of white racism, white tribalism becomes a defining feature of our national politics,” Bouie said. “Which to say that Trump, despite being a clown and a buffoon, is also the embodiment of a serious backlash in politics right now.”

Comparing our country’s state of unrest to post civil war times, Jamelle Bouie spoke about Trump and his supporters. Bouie said that studies from social scientists suggest that they hold negative views on people of other ethnicities more than other Republicans. He reiterated the fact that if Trump gets elected, we can expect the unrest to reach new heights.

“A Trump presidency I think, would represent the kind of backlash we have just not seen since the time after reconstruction,” said Bouie.

The political journalist also said Obama’s selection was a symbol of change. He said people’s’ expectations of equality during defining moments in history rise, bringing us to a place where activism begins, due to citizens wanting continued progress.

 

“He was a sign that things were getting better, despite what it looked like prior,” said Bouie, about President Obama. “But this wouldn’t last. The Obama Presidency since it has began, has been marked by a steady progression of racial controversies.”

Bouie explained that news outlets and social media are only feeding unrest. Similarly, he compared today’s reactions to the time after the civil war, noting that today we have good sources of communication that give us the ability to come together.

“Back when Bush was president and even when Clinton was president, you had the racial controversies,” Bouie said. “But you didn’t have what happened under the Obama presidency, which is that a younger generation of activists were getting mobilized.”

Bouie shared his predictions on the outcome of Hillary Clinton’s presidency as well.

“If Clinton wins, she’ll probably continue the policy of the Obama administration, which doesn’t mean the outward stuff you see,” said Bouie. “It means who she appoints or who she nominates for judicial positions. Like Obama, she won’t stand in the way of these new activists. She might even at times, encourage them, which is a real victory.”

Bouie referred to today’s civil movement as “one of the most vibrant political movements in recent memory.” He said justice is in the hands of the citizens, and encouraged the audience take other actions towards social justice.

The political scene has changed rapidly over the years, with people voicing their opinions about political candidates in the workplace and using social media as a means of being heard. When asked about the turning point for change, Bouie summed up politics today.

“Americans, even though we hate politics, we also can’t imagine a world without it,” he said.”I think this has left us in a place where all we have left is to talk about it.”

Attendee Lisa Cockrel said she enjoyed the lecture.

“I think he did a good job of putting our current moment in context with the post civil war movement to current events,” Cockrel said.

Grand Rapids Community College student Tim Gabbert said the lecture was enlightening.

“He went a little bit deeper into racial inequality than I had ever gotten in school to this point,” Gabbert said. “It was pretty eye opening.

Matthew Rios and Rachael Yadlowsky contributed to this report.

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