One Response to ‘You Better Not Make White People Angry, Or They’ll Vote for Trump’
In the last several years, I’ve noticed an annoying tendency for certain people — and yes, they’re usually white — to issue warnings to me about the way in which I should conduct myself, as a person of color (POC), in order to ensure that white people don’t vote for Trump. I admit that, when I was first hit with this response to my attempts to assert my equality, I was taken aback: why is defending my right to be an equal human being as a woman of color (WOC) being met with defensive statements that force me to shoulder the responsibility of a group of white people’s voting indiscretions?? Why are POC’s being forced to vote for whichever candidate is least repugnant? Why is it that, even though the Democratic stage had a decent degree of diversity a few months ago, it’s now all white?
White supremacy, of course, which is alive and kicking harder than ever. It was designed not only to privilege all white people on a racial basis (and ultimately, on economic, cultural, and everything basis) but also to render that very same privileged group completely blind to their privilege. It is like Macchiavellian deception squared or even cubed, and then given a continuous steroid infusion of false superiority. White ignorance is the backup generator for white supremacy when it fails to adequately protect itself and its polity from its own demise, thus shorting out. And it works, for the most part; that is, collectively for white people as a group regardless of whether or not there are some anti-racist white people who truly understand.
In the last several months, I’ve had ignorant responses to my assertion of equality as a WOC — that is, I should be getting an equal chance in society and therefore will make visible white privilege, supremacy and ignorance where I see it, so it can be (finally) addressed. Necessary discussions about white privilege have provoked, instead of anti-racist responses — these: “you better not talk like that, or more white people will vote for Trump” or “this sort of guilt-tripping of white people” will get Trump reelected. Apparently, stating the obvious — that white supremacy exists and confers privilege to white people — is causing so much guilt in white people that they’re — -voting for Trump?! As if this isn’t bad enough, POC’s are told that asserting our desire for equality is what is causing Trump to win.
My personal favorite was an observation of an older white male and a younger Indian female, during which she described her difficulties as an Indian/Sikh woman and mentioned that addressing white privilege in our society should help decrease her difficulties by making white supremacy more visible. His response to this — “if you keep making us feel guilty, we’re more likely to vote for Trump” — reveals his investment in keeping this woman subordinated. At the mere mention of equality for her — which will necessarily involve the admission of white privilege — rather than admitting that our system is a white supremacist one, he issues her an Achtung! He conveniently absolves white people from responsibility for their potentially poor choices, effectively telling her that she must cater to what are some white people’s defensive maneuvers and anger management issues rather than suggesting that perhaps white people deal with their own voting choices.
The result? He silences her by implying that her assertion of subordination will result in the negative consequence of Trump’s election while conveniently excluding the fact that it is mostly white people voting for him.
Here are the implications:
1. You, POC, are responsible for the voting habits of white people;
2. You, POC, can prevent white people from their voting indiscretions by accepting your subordination, ie, just stop talking about white privilege and accept that you’re beneath us from a social perspective; and
3. If you don’t accept your subordination, and dare to speak up about the fact that you’re embedded in a context which constantly racially privileges us white people at your expense, we will warn you that it is your fault that Trump is being elected.
These faulty responses radiate the nuclear fallout of white ignorance that maintains white supremacy. Frankly, I’m shocked at how frequently white people who identify as liberals issue this warning to POC’s instead of asking themselves how they might target the actual culprit: white supremacy, and the white people who sign up for ‘whiteness.’ This attitude re-victimizes the actual victims while, once again, sparing white people as a group any responsibility for their own voting choices.
Granted, there is a pragmatic component to this equation, but this component forces POC compliance to a white supremacist society by offering options which do not represent us fully. For example, some studies show that a number of African-Americans support Biden not because they want Biden to be president but because they don’t want Trump re-elected and they think he’s most likely to win.
Biden is gaffable more often than he is reasonable, and his history of policy choices indicate he’s not nearly as open-minded as the public imagines. His ‘Mister Magoo’ who-me? routine which he brandishes each time he’s caught in another ridiculous racist gaffe proves him to be more deliberately blind than benign. That illustrates the fundamental problem for POC: an underlying herd psychology is guaranteeing white dominance continue because it doesn’t truly offer a good representative option for POC’s. When POC make this type of ‘the lesser of two evils’ decision, it is because we are embedded in a white supremacist society that does not give us the same social power as it grants white people and ultimately, doesn’t give us as many — if any — representative options.
When white people ‘warn’ POC’s that, in essence, exposing our subordination will ‘force white people to play their hand’ and vote for Trump, they convey a deep-seated white ignorance. Note that this stance casts the POC as the decision-maker and the white person as reactionary to this decision. This narrative imagines the embattled white person as a passive victim of the pesky and nattering POC who allegedly whips out that apocryphal ‘ANGRY TONE,’ thus strong-arming the white person into voting for Trump on the mere force of our unwarranted rage. This view is estranged from reality; it is the gaslighting bait ‘n switch which characterizes the core of white supremacy. There’s no reason for any POC to subscribe.
In fact, 400+ years of history indicate that POC’s are reacting to initial assaults of extreme dominance which are still embedded in institutions today and set on cruise control, all facts that a majority of white people refuse to acknowledge. First, white supremacy was deliberately invented. Then, opposition to white supremacy happened as a reaction to the initial assault. The exposure of white supremacy is a reaction to the initial assault, an attempt to reveal it so that it can be eliminated.
A number of white people act as if the initial assault of white supremacy which persists in its power never happened at all — -this would indicate why, when they see a group of white people voting for a white supremacist, they tell POC’s that the way to address this is to stop talking about your oppression (ie, let white supremacy continue) and imply that our exposure of these noxious historical and current facts are the reason Trump is being elected.
This stance is baffling. It is one thing for POC’s to assert to themselves that they must vote for the lesser of two evils, but it is entirely another for white people to push that agenda by giving Trump-voters a free pass on their own voting decisions by placing the responsibility on POC’s.
Here is what I would recommend to all white people, liberals and otherwise, who wish to ‘help’ POC’s by enlightening us as to when we should stop talking about our discrimination:
1. Do not suggest that POC ameliorate our mention of subordination and the way in which it is related to white supremacy and white privilege, regardless of how many white people it may anger. That supports white supremacy by privileging the feelings of white people as a group over POC’s as a group.
2. Consider speaking to those white people who react in this manner about white supremacy (voting for Trump, in this case) and how they can acknowledge it in our society, inclusive of admission of white privilege. White liberals could replace their need to scapegoat Trump-voters as the ‘real racists’ when their own lack of insight conveys support of the same system, through actual authentic anti-racist work. This may lead to actual change in voting patterns. In general, white people tend to think the opinions of POC are of inferior value, so if white people do this work, it will have greater impact.
3. After working on their own tendency to label other white people as the ‘real racists,’ they should stop acting as if POC have a responsibility for this. Rather than advise POC to not make white people angry, consider tackling the actual problem and advising white people as a group how to acknowledge their supremacy and advantages, and then make prudent voting choices that will support the elimination of white supremacy.
I do wish certain white people would stop turfing the responsibility for white supremacy and the bad voting decisions that help maintain it to POC, and deign instead to address the real issues: white ignorance and the decided devotion to maintaining it.
White people, as a group, voted for Trump. When discussing how to alter or change this, consider discussing with the group of people who actually pushed the button: the white people who voted for him. Then, address these people directly. Perhaps they should consider shouldering responsibility for their own lack of judgement in choice of national leader.