Racial Unrest: Elections 2016 Present Trouble Ahead

Charles Trimble

It is only the grandmas and grandpas in Indian country that may have any memories of the violent revolutionary times of the 1960s and early 1970s; but even many of them have no personal recollections, because all the rioting and destruction was happening in the cities.

In the early 1970s the American Indian Movement brought their brand of revolutionary excitement to the reservations, inspired and stimulated by Black and Latino demonstrations and riots in the cities. There was plenty of destruction in Wounded Knee village, and much fear throughout the reservation during those times, but there wasn’t the mass rioting and burning that occurred in the cities.

But if younger folks of the Millennial generation feel they’ve missed an important part of history, there are indications that those times are returning now. More and more, we are seeing and reading about racial eruptions, usually in reaction to police brutality and killing of unarmed Blacks. And with the Latinos, such eruptions may occur in reaction to the mean-spirited measures proposed for undocumented aliens by Donald Trump, and other measures before Congress to gut benefits, stifle dreams, and round them up for shipment to their native countries.

Recent assassinations of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge portend violence that could even erupt into a race war, especially if trigger-happy militia of the NRA become convinced that the law and justice take too long.

Add to the mix the fact that, increasingly, the poor in this country keep falling farther and farther behind in income, opportunities, and living standards; and the rich are getting richer and increasingly intolerant toward the poor. And it seems that the government – especially Congress – represents only the rich and works to cut government benefits that are meant to help the poor. This seems to be the wave of the future, as long as the super-rich are able to buy the political candidates by socking billions into their campaign coffers. There seems to be little hope for the unwashed masses in America, including much of the buffer zone of the past – the Middle Class, which is finding itself lagging farther and farther behind.

In 2008, even with the looming World Depression that began under the Bush Administration, things looked promising as American people elected the first black President in its history. Hundreds of thousands of people (even up to a million) crammed the National Mall in Washington to witness the swearing in of Barack Obama, among them thousands of black Americans who must have sensed a historic sea change. To many young blacks and other minority youth, they could now dare to dream of someday becoming President.

In Obama’s election to the Presidency, there was hope especially among the people living in a chronic state of poverty – minorities in the inner cities and barrios, and tribal people on Indian reservations. And his executive actions and appointments of Native Americans raised hopes for the future of Indian country.

But despite early triumphs in his administration, President Obama has been subjected by Republicans in Congress, bullied into lock-step order by Tea Party thugs and their fat cat bankers, to demeaning juvenile mischief to discredit what he has done to save the economy and especially the auto industry, to stifle any new initiatives, and to roll back and destroy his signature accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

No President has been treated by the opposition in Congress with so much hatred, disrespect and hostility; one GOP yahoo going so far as to loudly calling him a liar as he was delivering a nationally televised speech. The “N” word has not been uttered – at least not in public – by the seething hate-filled yahoos who control the Grand Ole Party-poopers, but it comes across loud and clear in their actions to embarrass and humiliate the man the American people elected to head the Nation: “Get that Ni**er out of our White House!” is their message, regardless of whatever terminology slurs out of their mouths.

What message does this send to the youth-of-color in America, including our Indian young people? What message does it send to any youth in America, regardless of color, as long as they’re growing up on the wrong side of the widening gap between the haves and the never-will-haves? If the revolutionary times of the 1960s and 1970s return, it will be the youth that fill in the ranks of the marchers, the rioters, the burners and the victims.

This is the game that House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the snickering, smug GOP leaders of our Legislative body, are so dangerously playing. And they are enjoying it.

And the future bodes ill for America if Trump is elected President, or if the Congress stays in the hands of Republicans even if Hillary Clinton should win. I hope Indian voters, and people everywhere, are taking notes in preparation to kick ass come November 2016.

Charles “Chuck” Trimble is a member of the Oglala Lakota Oyate, born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was principal founder of the American Indian Press Association in 1970, and served as Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians from 1972 to 1978.

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Sammy7's picture
Respectfully, Mr. Obama is a home grown Chicago Neo-liberal straight out of Milton Friedman's cauldron at the University of Chicago. He too engages in Neo-con foreign policy objectives irrespective of how many brown skin lives he takes. Mr. Obama, despite his rhetoric and smiles is a hard right wing ideologue. He is likely a war criminal as well. Paul Samuelson spoke of an economic choice of guns or butter. Obama has chosen guns while children go hungry in America and the Black Community descends into Nihilism.