Alyssa Milano: In Trump’s America it’s not enough to not be a racist – we must be anti-racism (Commentary)

Last week, a group of boys engaged with a Native American man beating a tribal drum. The exchange was caught on video. And watching that video, each of us saw what we wanted to see. Because the divisions in this country are so deep they’re fossilized.

Still, some things in that video cannot be disputed–no matter what angle or how extended the cut is. These boys, who attend a religious school, were there on a school trip protesting against a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. Several of these boys were wearing red MAGA hats, a hat that has become synonymous with white nationalism and racism. Several were doing a “tomahawk chop.” Several were laughing.

When I saw that video, I saw boys flaunting their entitlement and displaying toxic masculinity. It seemed to me like they were reflecting the white nationalism and racism that the hats on their heads have come to represent.

I sent out a tweet that read, “The red MAGA hat is the new white hood.” Right-wing pundits and anonymous trolls alike screamed for my head–literally and figuratively. My husband received death threats on his cell phone. Many demanded an apology.

Here’s the thing: I was right.

So, I won’t apologize to these boys. Or anyone who wears that hat. But I will thank them. I will thank them for lighting a fire underneath the conversation about systemic racism and misogyny in this country and the role President Donald Trump has had in cultivating it and making it acceptable.

Trump comes by his white nationalism honestly. Maybe even genetically. In 1927 his father Fred Trump was arrested along with six other men after a Klan parade in Jamaica, New York, aimed at keeping Catholic immigrants out of America. While the younger Trump denies his father was ever there, arrest records are clear, and a news report of the time reported that all seven men arrested were “berobed.” It appears irrefutable that the father of the President of the United States was in the Ku Klux Klan.

Fred Trump’s racist practices in his residential real estate holdings caused iconic American songwriter Woody Guthrie to write about the “color line” that “Old Man Trump” brought into the neighborhood. And by the time the President took over management of the business, multiple lawsuits were filed against it for racial bias in housing.

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Alyssa Milano out and about
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Alyssa Milano out and about
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 25: Actress Alyssa Milano attends The Weinstein Company's Pre-Oscar Dinner in partnership with Bvlgari and Grey Goose at Montage Beverly Hills on February 25, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 04: Actors Adrian G Alyssa Milano at the Rolling Stone Live: Houston presented by Budweiser and Mercedes-Benz on February 4, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Produced in partnership with Talent Resources Sports. (Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Rolling Stone)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 04: Actress/Founder of Touch by Alyssa Milano, Alyssa Milano (R) attends the Taste Of The NFL 'Party With A Purpose' at Houston University on February 4, 2017 in Houston. at University of Houston on February 4, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Taste Of The NFL)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 04: Former Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton (L) and actress Alyssa Milano arrive for the Fanatics Super Bowl Party at Ballroom at Bayou Place on February 4, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Fanatics)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 27: Actress Alyssa Milano arrives at the NHL 100 presented by GEICO Red Carpet as part of the 2017 NHL All-Star Weekend at the Microsoft Theater on January 27, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 03: Alyssa Milano and Jiffpom visit the SiriusXM set at Super Bowl LI Radio Row at the George R. Brown Convention Center on February 3, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM )
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 27: Kathryn Tappen, host, NBC Sports, and Alyssa Milano, entrepreneur, actress, philanthropist & founder, Touch by Alyssa Milano, speak onstage at the Women In Sports Business Panel as part of the 2017 NHL All-Star weekend at Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live on January 27, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 08: Actress Alyssa Milano attends the 2017 Weinstein Company and Netflix Golden Globes after party on January 8, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 06: David Bugliari and Alyssa Milano attend a benefit hosted by Brian Grazer for the Ghetto Film School on October 6, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tara Ziemba/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Alyssa Milano attends Kiehl's LifeRide for Ovarian Cancer Research Event at Kiehl's Since 1851 on September 22, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 24: Alyssa Milano attends the Inaugural Fashion Show Benefiting Make-A-Wish with BCBGMAXAZRIA and Celebrity Host Brad Goreski at The Taglyan Complex on August 24, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 14: Actress Alyssa Milano is seen arriving at Marchesa fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at The Dock, Skylight at Moynihan Station on September 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 24: Actress Alyssa Milano attends the Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles Fashion Fundraiser at Taglyan Cultural Complex on August 24, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 13: (L-R) Alyssa Milano and Judith Light attend the 2016 TrevorLive New York event at Marriott Marquis Times Square on June 13, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Debra L Rothenberg/WireImage)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - MAY 04: Alyssa Milano visits 'Extra' at Universal Studios Hollywood on May 4, 2016 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - APRIL 15: UNICEF Ambassador and recipient of the 'Spirit of Compassion' award Alyssa Milano at the Children First. An Evening With UNICEF on April 15, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images for U.S. Fund for UNICEF)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 08: Actress Alyssa Milano visits 'Sway in the Morning' with Sway Calloway on Eminem's Shade 45 at the SiriusXM Studios on April 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 08: Actress Alyssa Milano attends the Variety's Power Of Women: New York 2016 at Cipriani Midtown on April 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 07: Alyssa Milano attends at AOL Studios In New York on April 7, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Adela Loconte/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 07: Actress Alyssa Milano is seen outside 'Huff Post Live' on April 7, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 06: Actress Alyssa Milano arrives at Maxim Magazine And Bootsy Bellows Super Bowl Party 2016 at Treasure Island on February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California (Photo by Trisha Leeper/FilmMagic)
THE VIEW - Alyssa Milano is a guest on 'The View,' airing Thursday, April 7, 2016. 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images) JOY BEHAR, CANDACE CAMERON BURE, WHOOPI GOLDBERG, ALYSSA MILANO, RAVEN-SYMONE´, JEDEDIAH BILA
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And by the time he ran for President, Trump bleated themes that would have appealed to those same Klan marchers who were arrested with his father in 1927: Build a wall to keep immigrants out. Ban Muslim immigrants. America first.

Make America Great Again.

David Duke endorsed him (which Trump initially refused to disavow). Racists flocked to his rallies. And they proudly put on the red hats.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying everyone who voted for Trump is a racist. I’m saying that everyone who proudly wears the red hat identifies with an ideology of white supremacy and misogyny. Everyone who proudly wears those hats gives a tacit endorsement for the hatred and the violence we’ve seen these past few years.

When the Unite the Right chanted “Jews will not replace us,” the Red Hats were there.

When young children were being torn from their families at the border and forced to represent themselves in immigration court, the Red Hats were there.

When Muslims were banned from coming to live in this country, the Red Hats were there.

When there was a white lives matter rally, the Red Hats were there.

When black protestors were assaulted at a Trump rally, the Red Hats were there.

When the Proud Boys teamed up with Neo Nazis, the Red Hats were there.

When a terrorist mailed pipe bombs to prominent political leaders and activists, many of whom were Jewish, the Red Hats were there.

And when a boys school sent a group of students to protest against a women’s right to bodily autonomy, the Red Hats were there.

This isn’t like wearing the hat of a sports team you love. These hats symbolize hate. They signal to others an embrace of policies of discrimination, oppression and exclusion.

The Red Hats are demanding an apology from me for a tweet that compares red hats to white hoods. And maybe it isn’t the same. After all, years ago, racists like Fred Trump put on the hood to hide. There is no hiding with the Red Hats. Only pride.

Still, you know what? I am sorry. I’m sorry for the decades and decades of oppression and abuses people of color have faced in this country. I’m sorry that as part of a privileged white majority we did not stop this Administration from happening. I’m sorry to those who have suffered at the hands of the Red Hats and the policies their leadership implements. See, I’m not apologizing to the Red Hats. I’m apologizing for them.

Part of making amends with our history is making sure it doesn’t repeat itself. I will not be silent. I will not be intimidated. Everywhere these hateful acts occur, everywhere I see a Red Hat stop a person of color from thriving, everywhere I see a Red Hat get between a woman and her body, a person needing asylum and the safety we can offer, a child and her parents–I’ll be there. I’ll be loud. And I know I’m not alone.

Sorry not sorry.

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Alyssa Milano at Kavanaugh-Ford hearing
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Alyssa Milano at Kavanaugh-Ford hearing
Actress Alyssa Milano talks to media before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the US in Washington, DC, on September 27, 2018. - Washington was bracing Thursday for a charged hearing pitting Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh against his accuser Christine Blasey Ford, who is set to detail sexual assault allegations against the judge that could derail his already turbulent confirmation process. (Photo by Erin Schaff / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIN SCHAFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Actress Alyssa Milano speaks to members of the media before the start of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Chairman�Chuck Grassley�called for a 'safe, comfortable and dignified' hearing Thursday on a sexual assault allegation against�Brett�Kavanaugh�as the panel opened a historic hearing that promises to shape the Supreme Court's future and redefine the 'Me Too' era. Photographer: Michael Reynolds/Pool via Bloomberg
Actress Alyssa Milano (L) hugs US Representative Carolyn Maloney in the hearing room before the start of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's appearance in the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the US, in Washington, DC, on September 27, 2018. - Washington was bracing Thursday for a charged hearing pitting Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh against his accuser Christine Blasey Ford, who is set to detail sexual assault allegations against the judge that could derail his already turbulent confirmation process. (Photo by Tom Williams / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read TOM WILLIAMS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Actress Alyssa Milano attends a hearing by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committe that is hearing testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during a party in 1982 when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. (Photo by Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Actress Alyssa Milano talks to media before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. A professor at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during a party in 1982 when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. (Photo By Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) (R) and actress and sexual assault survivor Alyssa Milano are interviewed in the hearing room where Christine Blasey Ford will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. A professor at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during a party in 1982 when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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