Now that President Trump's current attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has told us in a nationally televised interview on NBC's Meet the Press that "truth isn't truth," we are left to determine for ourselves what "truth" actually means.
That's not as easy, especially when Trump is constantly bombarding us with documentable lies that seem designed to confuse and distract us.
In truth, his strategy of distraction and dishonesty seems to be working.
With so much misinformation bombarding us, we are largely unfazed when Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is found guilty on charges of tax evasion and bank fraud, or when Michael Cohen, the president's longtime personal lawyer, pleads guilty to fraud charges and surrenders to the FBI. We are essentially numb to the endless video loop of police killing unarmed African Americans.
In the face of a relentless cycle of shocking news, most of us understand that truth is still determined by facts.
But we also know that our lived experiences define what those facts mean to us. That's why, at a time when truth itself is under attack, we, as individuals, can each look at a single set of facts and come away with totally different meanings. And those meanings are often seen through our personal prisms of politics, ethnicity, or that enduring American divider — race.
That is what I've learned during the presidency of Donald Trump. We are divided along numerous lines. From the religious divisions we saw when Trump successfully banned travelers coming from mostly Muslim countries, to the ongoing ethnic strife driven by Trump's effort to stop brown immigrants from crossing our southern border, we've seen Americans split along political lines. But as vicious as our political clashes have become, there is nothing that splits us more effectively than race.
In the age of Trump, we have become the country that the Kerner Commission foresaw in its 1967 report on causes and solutions for the racial unrest that gripped American cities during the civil rights era. We are, to put it bluntly, "two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal."
At a time when Giuliani tells Americans that "truth isn't truth," the reality of racial strife in America is getting harder to ignore.
First, there are the statistical realities of race in America. While black unemployment has decreased, African Americans are still unemployed at nearly twice the rate of our white counterparts. White families have nearly 10 times the net worth of black families. And the poverty rate among blacks, while it has decreased to 22 percent, is still more than twice that of whites.
Then there is the lived experience of blacks. We still face racial harassment while carrying out normal daily experiences. This is especially true when white citizens use the police to express what many of us see as racial animosity.
A white woman in Oakland, Calif., called police on a black family because they were barbecuing with charcoal rather than gas. A white student in a dorm called police on a black student who had fallen asleep in a common area. A white woman called police on a child for selling water without a permit. A white Starbucks manager in Philadelphia called police because two black men were waiting in the store and had not yet made a purchase.
In such situations, the white caller can assert that they believe the truth is that the black person is a threat. But for the black person, the truth is that the police are, and have always been, a tool used to keep black people "in their place."
I don't yet know what will come of the Mueller investigation that has gripped much of the country in an unending argument over whether Trump's campaign worked with Russians in order to win the White House. But I do know that the facts will be viewed through the prism of race.
For white Americans, it is grounds for a fascinating debate over politics and ideology. For black Americans, it is simply another distraction from the constant fight for survival.
In a society divided along the lines of race, those are the shades of truth.