Donald Trump has traded in Republican dog whistles for a bullhorn, and I am hearing him loud and clear.
Late last night I watched the New York Times video, “Voices From Donald Trump’s Rallies, Uncensored.”
Submerged in the frenzied chants to “kill her,” “build a wall; kill them all,” and “f*@k that n****r,” referring to President Obama, was a brief flash to an image of this hideous button:
I was stunned. Not just because of the content, but because of another image a few days ago of Donald chowing down on KFC on his private plane.
It immediately became obvious to me that this wasn’t the benign pander to his everyman supporters that the media and everyone who roasted him on Twitter made it out to be. This is a nod to that KFC button from the rally, which reduces a woman to pieces of meat.
As Donald is poised to dive into what looks like a chicken thigh with his knife and fork, his smirk is really a wink to the hate-filled misogynists that populate his rallies. Donald’s gonna eat that b!#@h for lunch!
This isn’t the first time Donald has reduced human beings to food for his consumption. There was, of course, the infamous taco bowl that he ate for lunch at Trump Tower on Cinco de Mayo.
But the slick, subliminal message of Donald’s fried chicken photo op goes even farther in its darkness and dangerous dog whistle effect for me.
As a Black woman, and a Southerner, the use of otherwise innocuous images of fried chicken and watermelon and the like have historically and relentlessly been used by whites to demean African-Americans. So much so that in this day and age it is almost a joke.
Except it isn’t, really. Now I have no problem being seen in public with a drumstick in my hand. I’ve lived in the Northeast for so long now that the opportunity to enjoy Southern food is one I try not to miss.
But growing up, I remember older folks feeling uncomfortable enjoying a wonderful Southern lunch in front of white people, the stereotype was so embedded.
It seems ridiculous, but the fact that you eat it with your hands and chow down on bones is primal and feeds into the “Blacks as primates” narrative white supremacists have shoved down our throats from the creation of an American Constitution with a 3/5’s clause.
D.W. Griffith knew this and manipulated it to great effect in the Oscar-winning Birth of a Nation, in which Black congressmen during Reconstruction lounged with shabby-soled shoes on tops of desks on the floor of the House, eating fried chicken in a way that made them savages, that completely dehumanized them.
Donald sent out an image eating fried chicken on his jet while regularly promising his supporters that he is going to take down President Obama. His KFC moment is a message heavily seasoned with racist dog whistles. When Donald becomes president, they will no longer have to look at images of that n****r on Air Force One!
This is the message he is sending to the angry mobs he rouses into a frenzy at his rallies (the New York Times video shows countless Trump fanatics ginned up with so much energy when they leave that they seem shot out of a cannon, ready to blow up and destroy something … or someone).
And at the same time, Donald’s former campaign manager (and current paid surrogate), Corey Lewandowski, is using his paid perch at CNN to directly swell up the “birther” string of lies, suggesting once again this week that President Obama is not an American. That he’s not a legitimate occupant of the office he has so effectively served for the past 8 years.
I know racism when I see it. And this is what I’m seeing. And I’m not alone.