The detritus in the wake of the Trump presidency: Our work continues

JoAnne Silver Jones
7 min readNov 10, 2020
Photo by Jennifer Griffin on Unsplash

The reign of Donald Trump was unconventional and unpredictable. He didn’t host state dinners. He didn’t showcase American artists. He didn’t extend an olive branch to those who dissented. He wasn’t polite; he mocked people for their appearance or foibles. He wasn’t loyal; he dismissed or fired countless people because he could. Hyperbole infused his grammar; he unabashedly created or embellished information to support whatever point he was making.

Donald Trump, however, did not create the structures that he used to sow mistrust, disdain and contempt amongst people throughout the USA. At an instinctual level, he seemed to understand that white hegemony, misogyny and pernicious lying were structural weapons that could be deployed with lethal consequences. Opponents were vanquished. In the instance of Covid-19 and immigration policy, opponents and sometimes bystanders, lost their lives.

Let me explain what I mean by these terms and how I see them at work in the Trump administration.

White Hegemony

Alex Motoc on Upsplash

Whiteness, in the USA, is the coin of the realm. To be white is to be automatically inducted into the concept, “We the people”. Regardless of economic status or other life conditions, to be white is to have a currency not bestowed on those “others”, the ones with dark skin, or whose parents had dark skin. It sounds so strange to say that in 2020, the hue of one’s skin has value beyond all else. It is the entry into America’s bounty. Chris Rock offered, “None of you would change places with me and I’m rich! That’s how good it is to be white!”

The meaning of whiteness started to seep into the national conversation following the spate of recent killings of black men by police officers. Most particularly, the killing of George Floyd shone a spotlight on the mechanisms of white supremacy. Even without a conversation, the intrinsic worth of whiteness was deeply understood. The election of Kamala Harris as Vice-President was cause for jubilation for some and derision for others. Whatever one’s reaction, it comes from the fact that the door to the…

JoAnne Silver Jones

Author of Headstrong: Surviving a traumatic brain injury, Professor Emeritus, Springfield College, Massachusetts, love family, friends, the ocean and my dog