There are so many people on my Facebook feed who do not see themselves as racist. I’ve let go of longtime friends because they supported Trump, or for their statements, which range from dumb to dumber. They say things like: “Why can’t people just move forward and forget about history?” or “All lives matter, not only Black lives!”
These are people who don’t view their skin color as a privilege. Their support – and inability to see the reality — of what is going on under this current administration still baffles me. How can people be drinking such vile Kool-Aid, the kind that Trump is pouring out, washing away their common sense?
The election results and the protests which followed were proof that white privilege is alive and well and not going anywhere. But it is also complicated by the fact that people who vote for Trump don’t see that casting their ballot for him also shows us all that they are racist — maybe that’s why many who did vote for him have gone silent (except those out in the streets, of course).
Imagine if the Black people who lived in Pennsylvania or Michigan wanted a recount of all ballots if Biden had fallen short of getting the votes needed? Imagine if they took to the streets, went down to the central voting office, and demanded a recount; what would have been done to them? Tear gas, maybe? Arrests? Murdered by a lone white teenager?
We don’t know because what happened was that white people took to the streets and protested, and their lives were spared because of the color of their skin. With anthems that accompanied their marches, words that also screamed privilege: “Stop the count,” and “Let us in.” We all bore witness to the privilege there as hundreds of Trump supporters tried to enter the vote-counting room as votes were being recounted. What is detrimental to our society, to the health of our country, isn’t just that white people need to understand their privilege; they need to understand that their support of a man like Donald Trump makes them a racist person.
I imagine that those who marched to the vote-count buildings and demanded the recount are the same people who say that they have a Black friend. Or that they’re supporting Trump because of the way he handles our national deficit, or Wall Street, or because they’re against abortions. These are excuses to cover up what lies beneath, a superiority complex that is worse than COVID-19. It is worse because we have a pending vaccine for COVID-19, but we cannot cure racism; there isn’t a cure to get white people to see their privilege, or that support of Trump is the support of racist ideals.
Through all of the twists and turns since the election — the votes being recounted, Trump’s countless lawsuits, and the adult-sized tantrums of his supporters — there is one name which keeps coming to mind for me: Stacey Abrams. A few years ago, she ran for governor of Georgia. She ran a smart and tough campaign, connecting with the people of Georgia and encouraging people to get out and vote.
Leading up to election day, then and current Governor Kemp was suspected of successfully suppressing the Black vote; he was re-elected, pushing Abrams out of the running. When she conceded, her speech said it all: “[W]e are a mighty nation because we embedded in our national experiment the chance to fix what is broken. To call out what has faltered. To demand fairness wherever it can be found. This is why on Election Night, I declared that our fight to count every vote is not about me. It is about us. It’s about the democracy we share and our responsibility to preserve our way of life. Our democracy–because voting is a right and not a privilege.”
On November 3rd, what we participated in was a fair process — for all of us — no matter the color of our skin. Now, we must move ahead, with a historic election year behind us. White people, it’s your come to Jesus moment: Look in the mirror and vow to see our new Biden-Harris administration as a chance to mend what was broken, because we have work to do. It can begin with you working to understand and let go of your privilege, especially if you love America like you say you do … because it’s not solely yours. Don’t be scared to not be the majority any longer, and truly feel what minorities have been feeling for centuries. Only when we all acknowledge what is broken can we begin to move forward with fixing it.