Charlottesville and the Politics of White Resentment

One year ago this weekend, a succession of prominent Republican Party leaders lined up to condemn President Donald Trump for his failure to unequivocally denounce the white supremacists responsible for the violent and deadly “Unite the Right Rally” in Charlottesville, VA.

But what most of these public denunciations failed to mention was how Trump’s well-documented history of racial scapegoating has been part of the conservative political playbook for decades.

If you’re looking to dig deeper into the larger history of race-baiting in American politics in your courses this fall, don’t miss our video The Great White Hoax, featuring acclaimed anti-racist educator and activist Tim Wise.

From Charlottesville in 2017 to Nixon’s Southern Strategy in the 1960s, The Great White Hoax explores how conservative politicians in both parties have stoked white anxiety and resentment and scapegoated people of color to divide and conquer working class voters. While the film’s primary focus is Trump’s 2016 run for the presidency, it widens its scope to show how his divisive campaign rhetoric about African-Americans, Latinos, and Muslims fits within a longstanding historical pattern of racial scapegoating that cuts across partisan lines and goes back decades in American politics.

The Great White Hoax is an indispensable classroom resource for making sense of white (especially white male) voting patterns and the increasingly angry white backlash against multiculturalism and progressive social change. Check out the trailer for The Great White Hoax below:


[watch the trailer for The Great White Hoax]

If you’re looking for other MEF videos that explore the intersection of race and politics, be sure to check out White Like Me. Based on the acclaimed memoir by Tim Wise, White Like Me takes a fascinating look back at the race-based white entitlement programs that built the American middle class, and argues that our failure as a society to come to terms with this legacy of white privilege continues to perpetuate institutional racism, inequality, and race-driven political resentments today. In addition to Wise, White Like Me features renowned scholars Michelle Alexander, Imani Perry, Charles Ogletree, and others. Check out the trailer for White Like Me below:


[watch the trailer for White Like Me]

For more related films, check out our Race & Representation Collection here.