Ubiñas: The Trump empathy tour stops here

People wait in the frigid weather outside the Giant Center in Hershey before a Dec. 15 rally for President-elect Trump.

I am done with the empathy tour.

Done sitting with Trump supporters as they parrot the lies his victory was built on.

Done standing among the crowds for Trump's "thank you" tour as they insist theirs is not a campaign of xenophobia and divisiveness, while rabidly chanting, "Build the wall!"

Done fielding the hateful, racist, and misogynistic phone calls and emails and comments, which they argue are absolutely not hateful or racist or misogynistic.

Since President-elect Donald Trump's election, there has been a clarion call of empathy for rural, white, working class Americans - "real America," we're often told, as if black and brown working-class Americans living in cities are any less American.

Experts call this the double standard of deservedness.

I call it hypocrisy.

"When African Americans protest against profound racial inequality - unequal conditions that are directly traceable to discriminatory governmental policies - they are often condemned by the right as 'whiners' who should simply try harder to remedy their own situations," University of California, Irvine, political scientist Michael Tesler wrote recently on the Huffington Post.

To quantify this double standard, he embedded an experiment in a HuffPost/YouGov survey. It asked half the respondents if they agreed or disagreed with this statement: "Over the past few years, blacks have gotten less than they deserve."

The other half got the same statement, except "blacks" was changed to "average Americans" - a group, he wrote, that psychology research shows is implicitly synonymous with being white.

Guess the result?

The biggest double standard was among Trump voters, who thought African Americans were much less deserving than "average Americans."

Almost two-thirds of Trump voters said average Americans aren't getting as much as they deserve; only 12 percent of Trump supporters said blacks have gotten less than they deserve.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a professor of African American studies at Princeton University, said this double standard has been a staple in the narrative of black American life.

As American as apple pie or white privilege or white entitlement. Or, racism - plain and simple.

This election, struggling rural whites looked at struggling urban blacks and decided their racial differences were more relevant than their shared economic struggles.

So they hitched their wagons to a billionaire who is filling his cabinet with more billionaires who wouldn't know economic anxiety if it bit them on their pampered behinds.

This is the politics of divisiveness, played to perfection by conservatives who condemned a campaign to stop the police killings of black youth, and who now demand special compassion for whites in the Rust Belt. Remember how quickly Black Lives Matter conversations turned to All Lives Matter?

I can pinpoint the exact moment I felt the narrative turn. It was this summer, when a friend was being interviewed about the best-selling book Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir about white working-class Americans that without once mentioning Trump offered a fascinating window into why so many white working-class people would embrace him.

As I listened, I remember thinking how quickly the conversation had turned from communities of color - Remember when Black Lives Matter issues dominated the headlines? - to white people, again.

And now here we are . . . wringing our hands to empathize, to understand, turning ourselves inside out to come up with reparations for our dismissive attitude toward middle-America whites.

In my world, editors are fussing about hiring reporters from the working class - say it with me, white working class - which I'd be on board with if those very editors had committed in any meaningful way to hiring and promoting more women and journalists of color, more writers who are disabled or LGBT, more people who look like the marginalized people Trump consistently maligned and targeted on his way to the White House.

Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve, professor of criminal justice at Temple University, took a more optimistic approach to this duplicitous call for empathy. In addition to a rise of bigotry, she's also witnessed more people joining the fight against it.

"There has never been a more important time to be bearing witness to racism," she said.

The empathy tour is over.

ubinas@phillynews.com

215-854-5943@NotesFromHel

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