the struggle continues and black folks are mad as hell

November 9, 2018

The midterm elections were nothing less than a win. It may not be the win we had all imagined but the gains secured are significant — a battle won in a long-held war, if you will. That said, this war cannot be won without us addressing those who are not keeping their promises in the hidden, safe space of their voting booths.

The case for hope has been the liberal lynchpin throughout the midterm election campaign, but that case rings hollow in the face of exit polls that reveal that certain white people voted in opposition to initial polling numbers favoring Democrats. We call them the “white whisper.”

They sullied expectations in both 2016 and now in 2018, calling for a re-evaluation of the true extent of white allyship. Exit polls reveal that white people are declaring one thing in the lead up to voting and yet voting to uphold the system that guarantees them their white privilege. So, white people fear being labeled racist more than actually being racist.

We saw it with Hillary Clinton in 2016. The predictions were in her favor and the Democrats sported the smugness to match, unaware of the severity of the economic anxiety that would ultimately put that walking disaster in the White House. The 2016 election may have served as the warning needed for Democrats to not take early polling forecasts for granted but the idea of the “Blue Wave” persisted nonetheless. There was a wave, not essentially as grandiose as the tsunami predicted, but substantial enough for Democrats to officially be back in the game.

As per usual, Black women brought some sense to the polls (barring the 18% that voted for Brian Kemp?!?) but that effort was essentially nullified by white women essentially “white womaning” in a repeat of the 53% that helped secure Trump’s win. Sixty-one percent of white women voted for Ted Cruz, 76% for Brian Kemp and 51% for Ron DeSantis. It’s clear that the white-patriarchy princesses were unrepentant about their 2016 pick, once again posing a problem for marginalized communities.

Midterm elections are usually treated as an afterthought compared to the big budgets and theatrics of presidential elections, but the emergence of stellar, progressive Democrats running powerful campaigns garnered national attention and shifted that perception. Candidates like Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum ran campaigns that punctuated the growing desire to push back against a president hell-bent on gutting health care, women’s and LGBTQ+ rights while emptying the state coffers into the pockets of the 1%.

The people have had enough. More than that, Black people have had enough. We’re tired, exhausted and dangling by our wits’ end trying to organize for our liberation. Now we have to take into account that the “white whisper” will show up at the end of every election cycle to undermine our efforts. The organizing that took place during this midterm was nothing short of spectacular, with states like Texas doubling the number of voters from the last midterm election. This midterm was also a reminder that Black people need to reinstate a hyper-vigilance towards those that claimed they would vote for Obama a third time.

Obama made us comfortable. Black oppression raged on but we had a guy in the White House and that was a sign that we were getting somewhere, right? Not so much. Obama’s election was historic but we could not expect that it would undo the damage of history. While we reveled in the first Black president, whiteness seethed and organized, waiting for their opportunity to remind anyone considered “other” where the true power lied. Trump’s election was essentially racist white America telling Black Americans that the worst of them would always have deference over the best and brightest of Black people. This is the house that white supremacy built, and we should never forget that.

They’re right. We shouldn’t forget who and what America truly is: a violent ethnostate that thrives on the exploitation of those deemed “other,” not the magical fairytale land that white liberals mention every time 45 does something terrible. White supremacy has been separating children from their mother’s since slavery but this isn’t the America we know, I guess.  Our rage is a galvanizing force that pushed Abrams and Gillum to the forefront of a national discussion of the inherent racism Black candidates have to navigate within politics. These candidates called out that racism directed at them and didn’t have to battle through the accusations of pulling a race card. Things are changing, albeit slowly.

When our rage is guided by clear eyes, politics and activism work in our favor to do our bidding in meaningful ways. When we remember what country America really is, we do the work to undo the systems that would keep it that way. We see 1.5 million Floridians get their votes restored. We see a record number of Black and Brown women winning congressional seats. We’re reminded that the system that was built to work against us can also work to free us, all of us, with the right people in charge.