Why Donald Trump Is the Candidate of White Supremacy, and What That Means

Racial tensions are a huge source of controversy in society and culture right now, from #OscarsSoWhite to Beyoncé.

More important, though, issues of race have seriously bubbled up in the presidential race. Especially around a Republican presidential candidate named Donald Trump.

Trump just got endorsed by a former Ku Klux Klansman and has a lot of support from white supremacists. Yes, really.

So let's step back and look at what is going on here.

What even is white supremacy?

Ku Klux Klan members in 1920. (Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons)

White supremacy is its own form of intense racism that is often associated with violence. White supremecist people and groups typically follow at least one of these four beliefs:

1. Whites should dominate other races.
2. Whites should live in their own "white-only" world.
3. White culture is separate and superior. (So, anti-immigration.)
4. White people are genetically superior.

You've probably heard of the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacy group created in a the South in 1865. It was violent and aggressive, notorious for burning crosses on people's lawns and ... killing black people and civil rights activists.

Isn't white supremacy a thing of the past?

No. They're just not as visible as in the past. But it's definitely still here.

And they're getting angrier and more violent.

Dylann Roof, who carried out a mass shooting at a church in Charleston last summer, was apparently a white supremacist.

These days a lot of white supremacists don't officially belong to groups like the KKK, but they exist all the same. In fact, they had a resurgence after President Obama was elected. There are somewhere between 784 and nearly 1000 known white supremacist groups right now in the US, plus tons of followers of this ideology who don't belong to any group.

And they're not underground--they're active. Just this past week in California there was a KKK rally in Anaheim where three counter-protesters were stabbed and 13 others were arrested. A stark reminder that, yeah, racism and white supremacy are alive and well in the United States.

And David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the KKK, endorsed Trump for president--and Trump did not reject the KKK and Duke outright.

Here's that interview:

Trump's fellow presidential candidates also jumped at the chance to attack Trump too.

Trump's later response, that he didn't fully hear the question, is barely credible at most, given that he repeated the premise of the question in his answer. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough says his "feigned ignorance" about the KKK disqualifies him from being presidential material.

What is it about Trump that made a Klansman endorse him in the first place?

He channels and gives voice to frustration and anger among people on the right who feel like America is going in the wrong direction and has lost its stature. Including--let's be real--hateful people.

Trump is winning the support of this group because of things like his stances against Mexican immigration and for banning Muslim refugees. He also gets love for his fight against political correctness:

"[America will] become so politically correct as a country that we can't even walk. We can't think properly. We can't do anything."

Trump also often declares that he wants to "take our country back," and his slogan is "Make America Great Again." Back from whom? When was it great?

Should we be surprised?

By now, Trump has been compared--by scholars and historians as well as casual observers--to Hitler and Mussolini and other fascist leaders. Many are shocked that he is the Republican front-runner. Others aren't surprised at all.

What does this all mean?

There is no doubt that Donald Trump is feeding on and fueling hate in America. This fuel is stirring up major turmoil in the Republican party and in our country overall--and that won't just magically disappear even if Trump loses.

This article was written by Allison Hollender and originally appeared on Kicker. Kicker explains the most important, compelling things going on in the world and empowers you to get in the know, make up your own mind, and take action. For more, check out the Kicker site, like their Facebook page, or subscribe to their email newsletter.