Celebrating the Biden-Harris Win, But Millions of Americans Voted FOR Racism
We got the right result, but we anti-racists still have a LOT of work to do!
Like many of you I’m celebrating the victory of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the 2020 US election.
I’m also celebrating the fact that a Black and Indian American woman will be in the White House. To be honest, I thought Barack Obama was the only melanated person I’d see there in my lifetime. So, yes, I’m ecstatic, because representation matters. Many little girls will see Harris there and know that they, too, have a shot.
But I’m also mindful that we have work to do. A LOT of work.
Many people hoped that the 2020 US election would be a categorical vote against racism, climate change denial, children in cages, dismantling environmental protections, and a mishandled pandemic.
Not even close.
Instead, the race went down to the wire, with no early indication of which vision of the future would win: white supremacy and patriarchy, or equity and humane treatment for all. In the end, Biden-Harris prevailed (thank goodness), but it shouldn't even have been a question.
What's pretty clear is that tens of millions of people - nearly half of all Americans - voted FOR racism.
Are you surprised? I'm not. White supremacy stops at nothing, and one of its promoters in chief has had a huge platform for four years.
I’ve never trusted him. The orange one showed me who he was in a televised interview in the 80s, and I've been wary of him since then. Everything I've seen since confirms I was right to be. His own xenophobia aside, he’s emboldened other racists to come out in the open. It’s been a difficult four years, even for those, like me, watching from the sidelines.
Most Black people weren't fooled, either. Black writers and activists like Marley K. warned that racism would be on the ballot for this election, and it just might win. So, they did their bit to fight the racist tide.
According to the New York Times voter demographic report, Black people put their vote where their mouth was, and 90% of Black women supported the Biden-Harris ticket. Black men avoided the Kanye effect, and more than 80% of them also voted for Biden-Harris. (I’m showing serious side-eye to the Black people that voted the other way, though).
Indigenous people also turned out in huge numbers to vote for Biden-Harris (respect to the Navajo Nation, who had a huge (and decisive) turnout for Biden-Harris).
No ethnic group is a monolith, and this was clear with the Latinx vote. As Lisa Hurley points out in our second Introvert Sisters US election special, that identity encompasses people who are American born and raised through multiple generations, as well as those with more recent origins in a slew of countries throughout South and Central America and the Caribbean. Still, the majority of Latinx people voted for Biden-Harris. (More side-eye to those that didn’t.)
So, now let's look at the white folks. Well, they’re not a monolith, either, and while plenty voted the right way, they couldn’t totally undermine the tens of millions representing the “white is right” brigade.
Unsurprisingly, old white men voted for the status quo, for the rich getting richer, and for not giving up any of the privileges they'd carved out of the sweat and labor of Black people and the genocide of Indigenous peoples.
One of my friends said how disappointed she was that people who identify as Christian would vote for someone who had done so many unchristian things. Bye bye, Ten Commandments; hello, lying, cheating, coveting, and worse.
It was also disappointing that more white women voted for the orange one this time round than they did before. And this time, they knew exactly who and what they were voting for, which blows my mind. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face (an evocative British expression that seems particularly apt when you consider the patriarchal values most of the orange one’s followers espouse.)
I’m no statistician, but if you compare the numbers of white people expressing "support" for Black Lives Matter, and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, to the numbers of white voters voting against those very things, it all adds up to a bunch of performative allyship. Millions of people are lying.
Clearly, if you're reading this, you're not one of those voters, but perhaps, like me, you realize that we’re only getting started with fighting racism. The racists walk among us, and they are getting bolder. The Biden-Harris victory won't make us unsee the ugliness of the last four years, and the outright racism that killed so many people in 2020 alone.
The bottom line is that the 2020 US election vote is NOT a triumph of sanity and humanity. Since tens of millions of Americans don’t see racism, xenophobia and bigotry as deal breakers, it reinforces whose lives don't matter to them.
Far from living in a post-racial society, as many would like, no love, to believe, Americans are living in a racist society. And Black people are existing in a racist world (UK and Europe, you don't get off scot-free, either). As I said, we have a lot of work to do.
America may not be taken quite as seriously anymore, but it still has a major place in the world. What happens there matters to other people. Undo climate protections, and small nations suffer. Close your borders, and reduce innovation and creativity. Support the racists over the race abused (yes, I'm stealing that, Catherine), and you state unequivocally that Black lives will never matter to you.
But what does give me hope is that the passage of time will eliminate many of those who voted against humanity. And the passage of time will soon give the youth who care about the planet a bigger say. The work we are doing every day is helping to create a better future. And the 2020 election result gives us the chance of a little more sanity and breathing room while we continue to fight necessary battles and make good trouble in service of that future.
Meanwhile, my dear active antiracists (because you know I love to give us all homework, lol), find your people who are willing to listen and slap them upside their head with some truth about our racist world. Show them by example that more for all doesn't shrink the pot; it enriches it.
And recognize that the 2020 US election reveals that it's more important than ever to do the hard, painful work of dismantling racist structures, of undermining racist ideals, of resisting efforts to reduce diversity. To do otherwise would be unthinkable.
As always, thanks for reading and for supporting this newsletter. I look forward to your comments.
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2020. All Rights Reserved.
Cover photo courtesy of Canva.