Race forum: White grievance a key factor in electing Trump

Feb 06, 2017

Pulitzer-prize winning columnist Eugene Robinson, center, serves as the moderator for a forum on race relations at Clalfin's W.V. Middleton Fine Arts Center. (Courtesy of The Times and Democrat)

Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson was moderator for the race relations forum on Jan. 28. (Photo courtesy of The Times and Democrat)

Claflin University brought together a number of high-profile figures on Jan. 28 for an open forum on race relations.

Orangeburg native and Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson moderated the session that included 6th District Congressman James Clyburn, Bishop Marcus Matthews, noted civil rights photographer Cecil Williams, retired Voorhees College President Dr. Cleveland Sellers, historian Dr. Millicent Brown, historian Dr. William Hine and United Methodist Church official James Salley. The event was co-sponsored by historic Trinity United Methodist Church.

 “There was an aura of white grievance expressed in this year’s election results,” Clyburn said, citing Barack Obama as the first African-American president as a swing to the political left. “Countries always move back and forth like a pendulum swinging from left to right.”

“Energy needs to be harnessed and directed,” he said.  “What is happening today is nothing new.”

Robinson piggybacked on that sentiment, stating the Trump campaign vibe increased white grievance and he capitalized on this to win the election.

Brown said she does not share the congressman’s optimism about swings back and forth.

“Just because the pendulum swings one direction doesn’t necessarily mean it will return back. There are tipping points (from) which nations cannot return,” Brown said. “It’s not inevitable things will get better.

“Objective fact has seemingly taken a back seat to alternative fact,” she said.

Robinson said the Obama election set the stage for a campaign like Trump’s.

“White grievance boosted Trump’s campaign,” Robinson said. “No experience, no knowledge but he gets elected in a diabolical way or by accident.”

Clyburn chimed back in by stating, “Only intervention of voters can determine how far the pendulum swings.”

Orangeburg Massacre survivor Sellers said black people must self-educate and teach their own history to future generations.  “Racism is very pervasive in society.”


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