Is the MAGA hat the new symbol for racism?
On Tuesday January 29, 2019 American actor Jussie Smollete was leaving a Subway restaurant in Chicago (not far from his apartment) when he was brutally attacked by two men wearing ski masks. They hurled homophobic and racists slurs at while while the beat him. They put a noose around his neck and then poured what seemed to be bleach all over him. The two men were wearing Make America Great Again hats.
To be completely fair, I will hold my comments on the alleged attackers until the surveillance footage is discovered. Nevertheless, the mere idea that his alleged attackers were wearing MAGA hats forces me to address the underlying issue that MAGA is/has quickly become the new "white power", the new swastika, the new symbol for racism. I can not confirm that the infamous campaign slogan was not created for this purpose, but more importantly, I can not say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it wasn't.
If I were to take a poll of African American people living only in my city of what comes to mind when they see a person wearing a MAGA hat, I can almost guarantee most people would say they wonder if the person is racist. While you might disagree, you must take into account that this really could be what black people (and people of other ethnicity who didn't vote for Trump) feel when they see it (even if we don't do a poll). There are even memes about it!
Please don't get caught up in determining the exact number of black people that feel this way... your concern should be WHY any number of people feel this way about a sitting president's campaign slogan. I challenge you to really sit down and think about how people could come to the conclusion that a MAGA hat is probably something worn by a person that is either a racist or tolerant of racism (which I consider to be worse). No, really, think about it... why would someone feel that way? Is it because the majority of the hate crimes that have been committed in the past year have been committed by Trump supporters? Is is simply because Donald Trump was not able to readily denounce a large gathering of ignorance also knows as the Unite the Right Rally that took place in Charlottesville, and many of them were wearing MAGA hats? Is it because many of the racist-alt right-white supremacist-Neo Nazi's in our country feel emboldened by Donald Trump's presidency? If you own a MAGA hat, or t-shirt, or any other MAGA paraphernalia really sit down and ask yourself if you want to be aligned with the people that have taken over the slogan and elevated it's meaning (assuming this was not his original intent) to something as sinister as racism.
If I was the president I would have no problem making a statement to the groups of individuals that have taken the slogan and made it into something else...unless of course I was more concerned about losing votes than losing black and brown lives... then of course I would remain silent and allow people to sort it out on their own (insert sarcasm here).
Some of you might say "but Kanye West wears the hat, and he's black". Well... even Kanye has acknowledged that he put "positive" energy in the hat... If the hat was always positive, why did he feel the need to add positive energy to something that was already positive? This is an inference that the hat had negative energy to begin with. He has spoken several times about changing the meaning of the hat and giving it a new meaning. (watch this short clip)
We can continue to turn a blind eye to these things, we can continue to justify hateful behavior, we can go on FaceBook and Twitter and argue with others about why thinking the hat has negative connotations is unfair, or... we can say "let's just not have anything to do with racism, prejudice, homophobia, and misogyny, or anything that resembles it". Why do people fight so hard to excuse questionable behavior instead of just admitting that it's wrong? There are people today, that will see the news about Jussie Smollette and say "well, just because they were wearing those hats doesn't mean they were racists". So, what about the racial and homophobic slurs that came along with the men wearing the hats?
I will step off the soapbox. If you can not tell, I am tired, and disgusted. I am praying for Jussie and this country.