I was never with her. The probable minimal improvements Hillary Clinton’s policies would have made in my life as a poor, Black woman were not enough to make me champion her, or quite frankly, vote for her. I wasn’t prepared to pretend Clinton’s history (the infamous “super-predator” remarks and subsequent convenient apology, her influence over her husband’s policies that had disastrous affects on Black people, and typical political pandering) of the kind of covert racism that informs systemic racism is the obvious choice over Donald Trump’s brazen, “good ole boy,” overt racism.
Whenever I offered this admission before last night’s contest, I was bombarded with “lesser of two evils” rhetoric arguing that if Trump were to be elected, it would be the fault of “selfish” people like me, obsessed with punishing Clinton. Black people have been especially critical, arguing that third-party Black voters and non-voters were voting against our own self-interest and would be complicit in a Trump win. CNN’s declaration that “a dip in African-American turnout has knocked Democratic early voting numbers off their 2012 pace in key battleground states” was just the evidence many needed to prove that Black folks were about to lose this election for Hillary Clinton.
After the Republican presidential nominee’s win last night, the blame game kicked in full swing on social media. Echoing popular sentiment, this morning NBC asserted, “Blacks and Latinos were supposed to be the Democratic nominee’s firewall in the general election.” The finger-pointing announcement subtly pinning Donald Trump’s victory, which NBC admits “flies in the face of political wisdom and norms,” on the two most visible minority groups–predictable as it is–is not only dishonest and mathematically inaccurate, but it also places the blame for the election of a candidate who peddled the racist, xenophobic, Islamaphobic and sexist rhetoric that corresponds to America’s imperialist legacy on its victims rather than its purveyors.
Despite idealist propaganda about the diversity of the American population and radical fear-mongering about white genocide, the U.S. remains overwhelmingly white, with Census data showing that 61.6 percent of the U.S. is non-Latino White. When Latino ethnicity is not considered, people who identify as white alone comprise 77.1 percent of the population. Conversely, Black people make up just 13.3 percent of the population, or at best, less just over a fifth of our white counterparts.
When that data is compounded with exit polls that show both that 88 percent of Black voters — the highest of all groups — voted for Clinton and that Black voters made up just 12% of the voting pool compared to white voters who represented 70 percent, the baseless claims that Black voters were the key element in the outcome of the election are revealed to be preposterous. Trump won an estimated 58 percent of the white vote, more than seven times the 8 percent of the Black vote he reportedly claimed.
As Jay-Z famously quipped, “Men lie. Women lie. Numbers don’t.” The notion that Black folks are responsible, even proportionately, for the greatest political upset of our time is ludicrous. It’s mathematically impossible. Disproving claims that we are responsible for Trump’s winning bid just based on the numbers is the easy part. But the metrics also offer insight into the true reason Trump is this country’s newest President: He massaged the white masses with his lullaby of racist nostalgia and melanated scapegoats.
America created Trump. Its refusal to confront the racism that drives its capitalist nightmare of oppression, instead obsessing over the fantasy that we live in a post-racial society, is why Trump, with at no prior political experience, was able to ascend to the apex of its political mountain with such unprecedented speed. Trump connected with racist white people by affirming what they’ve been taught for centuries. He fed poor white people’s appetite for indicting brown immigrants for stealing their jobs and lazy Black people for living off their tax dollars, while simultaneously promising his rich white counterparts that he’d make sure they’d be able to continue fleecing the flock. And he connected with a white middle class, who both don’t trust a woman to run this country and agree, even while publicly denying it, with his incident messages of hate.
The myth of racism being confined to poor, uneducated white southerners who don’t understand that while Trump was cutting public SNAP benefits for the Black people they loathe, that he wouldn’t miss cutting the same benefits for the poor white people who make up more than 40 percent of food stamp recipients, doesn’t hold up when 49 percent of college educated white voters voted for Trump. Nor does the feminist musing that it was white men who would rather have an unqualified racist man in office than a qualified woman committed to helping all people (side-eye) hold water because 53 percent of White women voted in favor of Trump. Even the idea that older white voters, vengeful after having a Black man serve as Commander-in-Chief for eight years and clinging to the racist ideals that shaped their youth, were Trump’s primary backers is false–55 percent of white voters between 30-44, and 48 percent of white voters between 18-29 voted for him too.
But even if Black voter turnout could be blamed based solely on the numbers, that would fail to take into account the myriad of factors that influenced our collective vote. Decades of successful attempts to suppress the Black vote did not stop this election cycle, as Trump’s campaign targeted Black voters. And Black people are disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system and as such, more likely to be felons ineligible to vote, a problem largely attributable to Bill Clinton’s Crime Act that saw droves of non-violent Black offenders jailed for petty drug crimes. Then there are the legitimate concerns of Black voters who do not trust this political system and any of its agents to work for our benefit.
All-in-all, this is not our bag. White America spent centuries putting white men in office who offered nothing more than the maintenance of the system that guarantees their privilege with no regard for the ways policies would affect Black people. So now that they have elected a man who the world expects to devastate indiscriminately, they need to own their screw up.
Black people didn’t do this. America earned it.