Editor’s note: the title and tone of this post were inspired by Brit Bennett’s essay “I Don’t Know What to Do With Good White People.”
I seem to be surrounded by Real Americans these days. Real Americans determined to make America great again; Real Americans determined to round up those illegals and send them back home; Real Americans who want to deal with those crime infested inner cities by warehousing people of a certain color; Real Americans who never threw their sheets and ropes away, but kept them in the closet for a day such as today; and so on.
Of course, these Real Americans have always been here, but today they seem particularly empowered, now that we have a designated Real American as president of the United States, who has surrounded himself with Real American Cabinet members, Real American advisors, and, of course, his Real American family.
I remember hearing a Real American woman once state that she had been waiting for Real American Donald Trump all her life. This was after his pussy-grabbing video came out, and I remember thinking really? The man who has decades of proof regarding his misogynistic viewpoints on women, and who once made some seriously creepy comments about his daughter Ivanka? That Donald Trump? But that’s Real Americans for you. I guess in her mind a little pussy grabbing here and there is acceptable if Trump can make America great again for Real Americans.
I guess I wouldn’t mind it so much, but these Real Americans have taken to shouting down anyone who thinks their Real Americanism might be a little much, and how it’s their time now, and how it is the duty of Real Americans to unquestioningly follow President Real American, and all that. Like that’s ever been the American thing to do.
There was a time growing up when I remember the Real Americans being the ones who fought fascism, not embraced it. What happened to those times? How can the people who are fighting tyranny, and institutionalized racism, and the rise of white supremacy, and the downfall of liberal democracy now be considered not Real Americans? When did dictatorship become so fashionable that these Real Americans are seriously considering abandoning democracy for autocracy? No Real American would ever willingly give up democracy. In my opinion, anyway.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, there was a reason I escaped the Real America of the south many years ago and never went back. The tribalism and abject racism. The closed minds and the willful ignorance. And the poor. Lots and lots of poor with no hope but their sweaty faux Christianity and synthetic Fox News. Ripe for a snake oil huckster like Real American Donald Trump for the plucking. A great many other people escaped those places too, or thought they did. But the Real Americans are ascendant now, and now there’s no place to hide.
So what to do about Real Americans? Perhaps it’s time to take Real America back. We have the numbers, after all. A substantial majority of Americans actually like the America of diversity that accepted the tired, and the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. And that majority is waking up. So perhaps I will wake up too and join them. Those are the kinds of Real Americans I prefer, anyway.