People of color associating with white nationalists

The presidency of Donald Trump has given white nationalists and other xenophobic and racist groups in the US a sense of validation and suddenly we are hearing of organizations holding rallies openly. What has been less noticed is that these groups are even attracting members from an unlikely demographic: young men of color As Arun Gupta writes:

Outfitted in a flak jacket and fighting gloves, Enrique Tarrio was one of dozens of black, Latino, and Asian men who marched alongside white supremacists in Portland on Aug. 4.

Tarrio, who identifies as Afro-Cuban, is president of the Miami chapter of the Proud Boys, who call themselves “Western chauvinists,” and “regularly spout white-nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Last month, prior to the Patriot Prayer rally he attended in Portland, Tarrio was pictured with other far-right activists making a white-power hand sign. Last year, he and other Proud Boys traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, for the Unite the Right rally that ended with a neo-Nazi allegedly killing an anti-fascist protester.

Tarrio and other people of color at the far-right rallies claim institutional racism no longer exists in America. In their view, blacks are to blame for any lingering inequality because they are dependent on welfare, lack strong leadership, and believe Democrats who tell them “You’re always going to be broke. You’re not going to make it in society because of institutional racism,” as one mixed-race man put it.

What is one to make of this? Why are young men of color attracted to groups that advocate for policies that harm them and are creating a climate of hostility towards them, let alone sometimes openly despise them? Gupta say that there is a spectrum within the xenophobes.

The Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer, which overlap, embrace an America-first nationalism that is less pro-white than it is anti-Muslim, anti-illegal immigrant, and anti-Black Lives Matter.

Indeed, Patriot Prayer’s leader is Joey Gibson, who is half-Japanese and claims Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as a hero. But his agenda is the opposite of King’s. Gibson’s rallies have attracted neo-Confederates and neo-Nazis.

His right-hand man is Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, a 345-pound Samoan American who calls himself “a brown brother for Donald Trump” and is notorious for brawling. By bringing diversity to what is at heart a white-supremacist movement, people of color give it legitimacy to challenge state power and commit violence against their enemies.

It looks like for these young men of color, the sense of male resentment that is being fostered by these groups that society now favors women and people of color darker than them is a strong enough unifying force that overcomes the barriers that would otherwise keep them from joining.

There have always been people who, for whatever reason, support groups that work against them. Very often these people are actively courted and given prominence by these groups, as we see with the few people of color who are supporters of Trump. One should not underestimate the appeal of a quick rise to prominence that such contrarianism provides. One should not overstate the numbers of such people, which are still small. But their presence does provide the white supremacists with a defensive shield against the charge that they are racist.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    There have always been people who, for whatever reason, support groups that work against them. […] One should not overstate the numbers of such people, which are still small

    Their numbers are YUGE. Anyone, of any race, who voted for Trump (or Dubya, or his dad, or Reagan) who’s not a millionaire is one of those people -- so, what? About 62 million? That’s not a small number.

  2. A Lurker from Mexico says

    Making political predictions based on demographic groups alone is generally a bad idea, you’ll end up following your own prejudice more often than not.

    In 2016 people thought latinos would turn out in droves against Trump. He got 29% of their vote, not a majority by any means but y’all were clearly expecting single digits for him on that front. You really shouldn’t just assume that immigration is the top priority of every brown dude you see (that’s kinda racist).

    For years I’ve heard stories from mexican expats in the US. One thing I hear a lot is that out of all Border Patrol agents, the biggest assholes are mostly latinos, it’s a common trope. One could infer that a latino border patrol is being an asshole because he’s trying to prove his american-ness to others (since it’s still in question), similar to how recent religious converts tend to be more pious than people born in that religion, or how recent atheists are insufferable in trying to debate religious shit every hour of every day.

    Also, a lot of cuban-americans fucking hate mexicans for our government’s friendly relationship with Castro. Remember Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz? My favorite part of the RNC was seeing the two cubans compete over who hates mexicans the most.

    Couple that with the fact that a lot of the immigrants from that country are right-wingers escaping a left-wing dictatorship (likewise with venezuelans). That those subgroups of latinos would align more closely with republicans, especially if their immigration status is not in question or if their families have been citizens for a while, is a mistake on their part, but something to be expected.

    There’s a reason republicans always frame the immigration issue as “something something Mexico”, even though immigration from this side has been a net 0 for a while. It’s so the brown republicans can dissociate themselves from that topic, ala “I’m not mexican, my dad was venezuelan. They’re obviously not talking about me”.
    It’s also why it’s a mistake to just assume that if you get a nice-guy democrat stance on immigration, that should keep latinos happy. Even a more left-wing family, not harboring grudges against other latinos, would be lukewarm to the topic. Considering that you have to be a citizen in order to vote, if the latino can vote democrat, immigration is not their biggest problem anymore.

  3. Clovasaurus says

    ‘Tokenism’ is gross, and use is abuse. Its heartbreaking because these relationships are steeped in dysfunction to say the least. Thanks for putting time and thought on this Mano. Cheers!

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