To date, Trump has received 8% of the black vote in the 2020 election, which is about a 2% increase from his 2016 record. This is baffling. It makes me wonder if they know what “proud boys” are, or completely missed that Trump called black nations sh*thole countries and BLM thugs. Trump’s campaign pitch to black voters was literally: “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed – what the hell do you have to lose?”
And yet, the more and more I play this line in my head and watch my black brothers and sisters march alongside racists moonlighting as MAGA patriots, the clearer it becomes: They probably do believe they have nothing to lose.
I am black and I voted for Biden. But I have to admit that I come from a place of privilege. I endure discrimination with a solid support group and took advantage of every opportunity available to me—opportunities available because mother knew how to navigate a complicated educational system and my father had a career with a flexible schedule allowing him to be present in my life. Mine is a privilege many black people do not have, whether due to generational deprivation or economic insecurity.
I do not believe Biden will solve all of our problems; I just believe he will allow us to get back on the road toward social equality. But that’s just it: we have not reached social equality yet.
For most black people, social inequality is an unrelenting fact outside of their control, and the lack of generational and social infrastructure makes fighting immorality seem trivial. Instead they probably believe economic power will open up that seat at the table…so work hard now and public opinion will not matter in the end.
Democrats always promise to give black people a seat at the table or make the process of earning a seat fairer. Unfortunately, the fight for fairness through remedial policies are naturally unpalatable for self-made conservatives that march to the drum of destructive individualism. The conservative agenda becomes appealing to otherwise oppressed minorities because it naturally aligns with a defeatist confidence: if I can make more money, it won’t matter if I am black.
So…in a way Trump is correct to the despondent minority. Black schools are sh*t, black youth have no jobs, blacks have no generational wealth. Particularly now, it is probably easy for poor and middle-class blacks to ignore Trump’s racist tropes because under his term his tax policies kept more money in their pockets, contributing to a sense of economic security they have not felt in a while. They will continue to teach their kids to keep their hands on the steering wheel and code switch because Democrats have not delivered on meaningful change to make those lessons unnecessary.
The problem arises when those sh*t schools fail to teach the middle-class and poor black person that those $18 extra dollars pales in comparison to the millions the white 1% pocketed, which in turn defunded the Democrat-backed government programs upon which their struggling neighborhoods and entrepreneurial ventures rely.
Trump relied on our lack of local civil engagement to create the perception that Democrats’ call for social accountability is merely emotional gaslighting. In other words, we cannot change our skin color, but we can change our circumstances. I am starting to believe that black Trumpers are not deranged. Rather, it is the lack of civic education and unrelenting economic insecurity that enables them to feel empowered by a bigoted billionaire. Trump feeds into their need for financial security and his narcissism encourages them to change their circumstances unapologetically.
It sounds silly, but it makes sense and, if you squint your eyes, explains why some blacks feel that Democrats’ calls for equality is whishy-washy nonsense. It just makes me sad to think that there are blacks out there that do not fully understand how disenfranchisement is rooted in economic racism. But I also wonder, if I did not have my support network that helped open doors, would I too vote for Trump out of desperation for tangible solutions?
There is another possible explanation.
Black people can be racist. I’m not talking about colorism. I am referring to the hate we have for other minorities – just general xenophobia. I grew up in South Florida and saw first-hand the culture wars amongst Caribbean and South Americans as if we weren’t already collectively hated by white people. One of Trump’s ingenious strategies was to sow hate toward everyone—black, brown, Asian, disabled, poor, immigrant, indigenous, purple, blue, green…. I wonder whether some black people voted for Trump solely because they aligned with his hate for a group founded on a distorted reality that “others” robbed them of economic opportunities. Racism is so irrational that it will cause the marginalized to persecute each other to fight for the scraps offered by the ultimate oppressor. But that’s a conversation for another day.
What do you think?