There was a woman I knew years ago who seemed to have a real preoccupation with people (of color) acting “respectable.” She didn’t understand why the “gang bangers” weren’t being respectable. Or why (Latino) kids didn’t behave more appropriately with the police and act “respectably.” And, of course, she wasn’t racist because she thought everyone, regardless of their skin color, could become “respectable.” I didn’t care for her.
Because what she meant was “white.” She just didn’t understand why all these people of color, being exposed to proper behavior in her upper-middle class, white suburb, weren’t taking advantage of their proximity to “respectability.” She didn’t exactly say, “Well people wouldn’t hate minorities if they’d learn to act white,” but that’s super what she meant. Society at large would be happy to end racism on the whole if only people of color would stop being other races. It was some straight bullshit.
And it’s a line of thinking that entirely too many people fall into. “I don’t hate them because they’re black. I’m not racist. I just hate people who act in ways that are weird and scary to me.” It’s not exclusively people who support Trump, but if you support Trump, you probably think that way. “Their” music is too loud. “Their” food is too spicy. “Their” clothing/mannerisms/behavior doesn’t fit into my definition of acceptable, and, as a white person, I have the right to determine what’s socially acceptable. Also, let’s address the fact that proximity to “proper” behavior makes any failure to adopt said behavior all the more offensive. Because a thing I heard one time: “People living in villages in South America don’t know any better, but they’re living in the U.S. They don’t have to act like that.” Like I said, I didn’t care for her.
All of which brings me to the almost-certain underlying reason for the U.S.’s unwillingness to help Puerto Rico, a commonwealth of the U.S. that we’ve seen fit to oppress and abuse in all manner of ways, after it was hit by two massive hurricanes and an incompetent leader. Because the reason Trump thinks Puerto Ricans are lazy has nothing to do with their unwillingness to “help themselves.” Because they’re sure as shit willing to help themselves. They’re even willing to help themselves with good ole fashion American capitalism despite how thoroughly it’s fucked them before. It’s almost like Trump and his administration have no interest in helping Puerto Rico because they refuse to just stop being Puerto Rican.
See? Jesus, how can anyone help the people of Puerto Rico when there’s all that noise and dancing and life happening? People would be more than willing to help Puerto Rico as soon as they become “respectable” like we are.