“Do you think racists have gotten worse since Trump won?”

“Well, I think it’s a combination. I don’t think we have more racists than we used to, it’s just that they’re out in the open now. I think they’re more publicly violent because they feel solidarity with the president. I blame Trump for making hate an American characteristic.”

This is the way things go. Sometimes an outing for t-shirts is filled with Fortnite talk, sometimes it’s the latest school shooting or concern about growing up black in America. Nothing’s simple anymore.

I told my truth, as I know it, as I’ve always believed it. But if there’s anything I’ve learned while doing this work it’s that hate has always been an American characteristic, and it’s a uniquely white privilege to decide whether or not to recognize it. Trump isn’t the problem.

That’s not to say Trump isn’t a problem – his tweets and rallies rile up violent reactions – but it’s a mistake to believe he’s the whole problem. It’s an enormous mistake to think removing this one man from power will fix what’s wrong here.

This hate runs deep into the marrow of our country’s bones. It’s pounded against generations of people, treating them as less than human and putting their lives in danger. It’s built a system so stacked in favor of a particular population that the ripples are felt across every area of society. This hate is a living, breathing part of America.

So do I think the racists have gotten worse in the last 840 days? I suspect a Black person might say racists are exactly who they’ve always been. The only ones surprised by today’s vitriol are white folks who convinced themselves sweeping ugliness under the rug and giving Martin Luther King Jr. a national holiday meant real change was here.

Guilty as charged.