The past is never dead. It’s not even past.
When then Senator Barack Obama referred to these words by William Faulkner in a speech in 2008 on race in America, he was explaining to the people of the United States that while things had changed, things had not changed. After he was elected President in 2008, many Americans expected the country’s racial past to heal, and be in the past.
Instead, during Obama’s eight years in office, groups formed, groups such as the Tea Party and armed militias, and they became strong with the help of the right-wing media echo chamber. Across the country many people believed the misinformation that Obama was not a US citizen and was Muslim, all messages intended to frame Obama as someone unfit to be president.
What later transpired was the election of Donald Trump who had campaigned on slogans such as “Make America Great Again” and “Build The Wall.” Trump was dog-whistling white America to rally around his view of the nation. He was playing on white America’s fear of being replaced as the dominant power in the country.
Trump’s reign emboldened white nationalists. Around the country the seeds of nationalism were being planted at a time when the American public no longer had direct recollections of fascism, Nazism and the Jim Crow laws. A recent survey has showed that 31% of Americans, including 41% of millennials, do not believe that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust; 15% think it is acceptable today to display Nazi symbols and memorabilia, while for 11% it is acceptable to hold neo-Nazi views. Meanwhile Black Lives Matter groups are referred to as terrorists, and white nationalism is being normalized.
These pictures document the United States starting before Donald Trump took office until the midterm elections in 2022, tracking the battle for the Hearts and Minds of the citizens of America.