York, Pa., and the rest of America have become a more racially tense place in the last year.
It’s all President Trump’s fault, according to a story in the Boston Globe.
“Trump’s election a year ago profoundly altered the United States in ways that continue to reverberate, but perhaps most visibly and disturbingly in how we talk to one another, especially about the hardest things, like the nation’s racial divide,” wrote the Globe’s Matt Viser in a piece entitled, “A Year After Trump’s Election, York, Pa., is Forever Changed.”
“The volume is up; the edge is sharp. Old grievances feel new, and civility is being sorely tested.”
Viser writes that Trump carried York County, 63-33, and the 33 have not known a moment’s comfort since.
He opens with a story about a mother keeping her daughter out of school in the days after the election because she feared a race riot that never materialized. “The morning after, Trump’s win seemed less like a victory for democracy – the kind celebrated in high school civics classes – than a trigger for tensions felt across York County and the rest of America.”
“York parents found themselves frantically trying to contact their kids as the school seethed with racial hostility,” he wrote. “A year later, they haven’t stopped worrying” … even though there’s still been no race riot.
York, he wrote, is “the kind of place where a simple Trump sign or cardboard cutout is seen by some as a show of pride in working-class values, but by others as a racist affront. Since Trump’s election, York residents have been un-friending one another on Facebook, avoiding one another at grocery store checkout lines, and leaving churches whose pews now feel uncomfortable.”
They also “tear up when speaking about their community and the once-close ties that are now growing frayed.”
Although “outwardly, life in York County and at the school that never had the race riot “seems to have returned to something like normal” after Trump’s first year, “the class resentments, racism, and xenophobia that became flashpoints during the election have hardened, not healed.”
He introduces us to Tonya Thompson-Morgan, who he says “has found herself blocking some of her old high school classmates and other Facebook friends …. When she walked around the York Fair this summer and saw peop0le handing out signs that read ‘Trump is still my president,’ she “felt turned away from the only community she’s ever known.”
“’When can we heal? When is there a healing process?’’ she says, taking a long pause to compose herself and wipe away tears.”
He tells us of the donut shop owner who put Trump photos on his delivery trucks, created a Trump donut and displayed a “Make America Great Again” flag out front.
And at the vo-tech school, where, Viser admitted, “any white student who supported Trump was almost immediately tagged a racist” and pro-Trump signs and clothes, and those of Black Lives Matter, were treated like gang insignias by school administrators, who ordered them removed.
He tells us about the African-American mayor of York, who, when planning to visit the school, was told to go only with a uniformed police escort.
“I’ve had escorts before, but never to a school,” the mayor said. “It was eerie. You just didn’t think of that in York. It woke us up. It woke us up to the reality that we have a new president. Things are going to be different.”
All in response to a potential race riot that never materialized and a series of other incidents that school officials came to doubt ever happened.
“We investigated numerous things that never happened,” said David Thomas, the school’s director. “Kids forget we have video cameras. There was a lot of getting on the bandwagon to get on the news. It got kids on TV. Kids want to be on TV.”
Viser proved half his thesis in this story. York is different than before Trump got elected. But he doesn’t make the case York’s real and imagined racial and social problems are Trump’s fault. He makes the case there are a lot of people there who still haven’t gotten over the results of the election. Those are not the same, although he wants you to think they are.