The Reckoning | Mary L. Trump

Summary of: The Reckoning: Our Nation’s Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal
By: Mary L. Trump


Step into the world of The Reckoning, a deep dive into America’s tangled history with racism, white supremacy, and the struggle to heal. Uncover the role racism played in shaping American society long after the end of the Civil War and how it persists today. Explore the legacies of disgraced American leaders who eluded accountability and witness the disastrous and divisive tenure of Donald Trump as president. See how the traumatic echoes of America’s past continue to carry a lasting impact, shaping the lives of Black communities in the present. Above all, embrace the challenge of coming face-to-face with the complex and challenging history of our nation, as we find our way to heal.

America’s Lingering Stain

The article highlights the brutal torture and killing of Black people by white mobs in America between 1865 and 1950. Despite the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the subsequent Reconstruction period, white supremacy persisted in the form of discriminatory laws and practices, which kept Black communities from exercising their full rights as citizens. The Supreme Court’s establishment of the “separate but equal” doctrine in 1896 further entrenched segregation, perpetuating the stain of racism that still remains in America today.

The Legacy of Unaccountability

The United States has a history of failing to hold its leaders accountable for their actions. Confederate General Robert E. Lee is just one example. Despite being a slaveholding traitor who caused the deaths of nearly one million Americans, his monuments still stand and his name graces Washington and Lee University. This failure to confront the darker aspects of American history allows for the same mistakes to be repeated. Even modern presidents, such as Nixon and Obama, have escaped accountability for their actions. Continuing to let leaders evade responsibility sets a dangerous precedent that ultimately undermines justice.

Trump’s Presidency: A Trainwreck

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States. However, from the very beginning, his presidency was marked by a disaster. His limited knowledge of policy matters was mixed with divisive rhetoric, scapegoating of minorities and immigrants, and attacks on critical media. Trump’s presidency was characterized by a hard right-wing agenda pushed through by the Republican party, discriminatory executive orders, massive tax cuts for the wealthiest, zero tolerance policy for immigrants, and appointing unqualified allies to key positions. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed Trump’s ineptitude by politicizing the crises, downplaying the threat of the virus, and letting it take root, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

The Lingering Effects of America’s Ugly Past

Since its inception, the United States has oppressed and excluded non-white communities. The Naturalization Act of 1770 restricted immigration and naturalization to “free white persons” until 1965. This has resulted in a strict racial hierarchy that favors white people and excludes others, such as Black and Native American communities. This has also resulted in past hardships and trauma being passed down across generations, resulting in what Joy DeGruy describes as “post-traumatic slave syndrome.” America still has a long way to go to atone for its past actions.

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