If there’s one American pastime I can always count on, it is white people blaming Black people for problems not of our creation.
As we now reach the conclusion of what has been an equal parts absurd and abysmal election season, a familiar political question about the impact of the Black vote has been trotted out. Last week, New York Magazine ran a piece entitled "Will minority voters fear a Trump administration enough to turn out in large numbers to help stop it from happening?" In it, writer Ed Kilgore notes, “As we approach Election Day and what could be a close presidential contest, however, it matters a great deal whether minority voters fear a Trump administration enough to turn out in large numbers to help stop it from happening.”
Kilgore then cites a recent article from The Cook Political Report that claims Black voter turnout is down compared to 2012. Kilgore uses to make the following argument: “The Clinton campaign might want to get the word out aggressively over the next week that the barbarian is at the gates, and Black voters who want to protect Barack Obama’s legacy and their own aspirations might want to take the time to vote.”
Two sentences and yet so many problems in each statement. To be fair to Kilgore, he hasn’t been the only one employing this narrative about the Black vote. The problem, though, is that with respect to Black voter turnout, context is key and many are failing to serve a health enough portion of it needed to present the stories centered on the Black vote in 2016 adequately.
While there were initial reports about Black voter turnout being lower in states like North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida, newer figures are pouring in and challenging that. Yet, even in the case of a state like North Carolina, if one is to dissect lower voter turnout among Blacks, it has to be made clear that such results are by GOP design. North Carolina Republicans are actively boasting about making it harder for Black people to participate in early voting (or voting period).
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The Republican Party is playing directly from the playbook of Jim Crow to help elect Real Estate Hitler to the presidency. So, as ridiculous as it is to expect Black people to vote with the same fervency as they did for the first Black presidential nominee and first Black president, at the very least, more ought to make a real effort to highlight that the Black vote has historically been under attack and recent years are its latest incarnation.
There have been far more efforts by many in media to try and humanize Donald Trump supporters than there has been wide focus on a political party trying to strip Black people of our basic rights as citizens. As for those Trump supporters helping them reach this feat, if it proves to be that there are more of them than there are Hillary supporters, don’t look in the direction of Black folks when it’s time to dole out blame.
If a racist, sexist, xenophobic presidential candidate unqualified for the job of commander-in-chief manages to become that in a democratic election, the blame of that should not fall on the backs of minorities but the white majority.
While some continue to feign aloofness over the racist antics of the Grand Old Party for the past five decades, many of us know that Donald Trump is nothing more than their bigotry in full bloom. There are Trump supporters who will vote for him with eagerness and others who will do so while holding their noses. Regardless of how these people vote, they are ultimately guilty of the same sin of supporting racism.
Black people are fully aware of Trump and the damage he can do. Black people know every choice - notably in an election - has consequences. Black people understand the severity of the situation. As a result, most of us will support Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. Some of us do so with glee, others less ambivalent, and some with anger over the conditions we’ve been dealt this election cycle. Whatever the reasoning, it’s no vote for a Mussolini-like political figure dipped in orange.
It is my belief that Trump will lose and lose decisively and go on to spend the rest of his life with a fraction of the fame and wealth he’s attained over time. He will die a loser, a racist, a sexist, and above all, a hateful, vile, waste of the gift of life. Should that belief be wrong and Trump manages to do the unthinkable, it will not be the fault of Black people.
Some will continue to call it “economic anxiety,” but those who know better, think smarter. Racism has gotten us to this moment. Our soon to be former president once quipped, “you didn’t build that.” When it comes to our current predicament, “The Blacks” surely did not.
Black votes may feel like clean up duty, but be very clear about who made the mess in the first place.