Speaking on CNN during the wee hours of Wednesday morning, CNN contributor Van Jones claimed that this year's election (and Republican candidate Donald Trump's unexpected rise) ultimately came down to something entirely unrelated to candidates' policies or their speeches at rallies. Instead, Jones claimed the root of this year's wild election was something he called "whitelash." So, what exactly does "whitelash" mean and why is Jones blaming this year's surprising election on it?
Let's first rewind to Jones' comments about tonight. "You have people putting children to bed tonight and they're afraid of breakfast. They're afraid of 'how do I explain this to my children?'" Jones said. "I have Muslim friends who are texting me tonight saying, 'Should I leave the country?' I have families of immigrants that are terrified tonight."
But Jones didn't buy many political commentators' explanations that tonight's surprising election results came down entirely to economics or overlooked groups of people. "This was many things," Jones said. "This was a rebellion against the elites, true. It was a complete reinvention of politics and polls, it's true. But it was also something else. We've talked about everything but race tonight: we've talked about income, we've talked about class, we've talked about regions. We haven't talked about race."
Trump's rise and his surprising surge in votes on Nov. 8, Jones reasoned, came down to "whitelash" — essentially, backlash from white Americans against other races. Backlash (or whitelash) against immigrants entering the country, backlash against refugees who were welcomed into the United States, backlash against African Americans having true equal rights. "This was a whitelash," Jones explained, continuing:
This was a whitelash against a changing country. It was a whitelash against a black president, in part, and that's the part where the pain comes. And Donald Trump has a responsibility tonight to come out and reassure people that he is going to be the president of all the people who he insulted and offended and brushed aside."
Considering that the United States went from electing Obama eight years ago to voting for a man who has proposed banning Muslims from the country, promised to deport thousands of immigrants, and wants to remove women's reproductive rights does seem to show backlash to the equality of minorities.
As Jones pointed out on CNN, when Trump says he wants to "take America back," Americans have to ask themselves who exactly he's taking it back from. Because judging from the comments he's made, it sounds like he wants to take back an America that actually belongs to all Americans — including African Americans, Latinos, women, and every other person who is just as entitled to call the United States their home.