As a Black woman living in a country where over 70 million people decided that reelecting a fascist white supremacist was a good idea, I have a request:
Stop telling me to reach out to Trump voters.
It had barely been 24 hours before the white liberal intelligentsia decided that those of us who had the goddamn sense not to vote for a megalomaniacal man-child whose idea of protecting and serving this country included encouraging its citizens to drink bleach to thwart coronavirus had the responsibility of reaching out to the people who lacked that goddamn sense. People who voted for a man who systematically dismantled everything that the Obama administration accomplished—right down to Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden—are suddenly just misunderstood. They were misled. I bet they were economically anxious to boot.
Marc D’Amico, who works for the Boston Celtics, tweeted:
Those who voted for Biden must accept this challenge over next 4 yrs: It‘s now your responsibility to treat everyone – esp those who voted for Trump – w/ the decency & kindness you sought from your president thru the last 4 yrs. Choose words wisely. Take deep breaths. Be leaders.
Excuse me? Absolutely not. First of all, I wasn’t seeking any decency or kindness from Trump because I knew he was incapable of it. And any person who not only voted for him in 2016 but who then saw the horror that he wrought on millions of people and decided, yup, that’s my guy, and voted for him again in 2020 is not someone who deserves my empathy. They deserve nothing from me. They will get nothing from me.
But since I believe in things like a sustainable planet, free health care, and universal basic income, that’s what I want them to get out of a Biden administration. That’s what I want for everyone in this country, even the assholes who don’t want that for themselves or anyone else.
But be nice to them? Absolutely not.
For the past four years nearly everyone who isn’t well-off, white, heterosexual, and cisgender has been under siege.
If you’re a woman, pregnant person, person of color, queer, trans or nonbinary, an immigrant, a person with disabilities, or any intersection of these identities, Trump has gleefully been trying to stick it to you for four years.
In his first week, Trump blocked people from primarily Muslim countries from coming into the United States. That’s how he started his presidency. And he never relented.
He installed justices who would be the fourth, fifth, and sixth votes to overturn Roe v. Wade. He gutted the contraception mandate by handing out exemptions to everyone who wanted one. He issued orders allowing people to claim a religious right to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
He banned transgender people from serving in the military for no reason other than he felt like it. He also tried to redefine words in a preposterous effort to erase trans people from existence. He issued an executive order prohibiting government contractors from holding diversity training because he thinks critical race theory is un-American and that the 1619 Project is some sort of cult trying to indoctrinate white children.
He refused to provide Puerto Rico with federal aid following Hurricane Maria because he couldn’t believe that some “foreign” place filled with brown people was actually his responsibility. Puerto Rico is basically Mexico, so what did he care. (Well, he cared enough to toss paper towels into a crowd in San Juan, so credit where credit is due.)
He issued orders that would have allowed fracking and drilling at national parks in California and Utah. He even reversed prohibitions on hunting methods that Obama banned as barbaric—things like baiting bears with donuts soaked in bacon grease, or shooting hibernating bears in their dens or riding in motorboats and gunning down caribou as they swim.
He forcibly removed children from their parents at the border as part of his child separation policy; some of those kids will never be reunited with their families while the rest may be permanently traumatized. Women in ICE custody had their uteruses removed without their consent.
And when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he and his cronies lied about how deadly the pandemic was, causing tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths with tens of thousands more expected before he is dragged out of the White House kicking and screaming.
And that’s not to mention the myriad times he incited violence against journalists, Black people and other people of color, immigrants, and peaceful protesters. He had protesters tear-gassed so that he could stand in front of a church awkwardly holding a Bible like he’d never held a book before. He encouraged white supremacist terrorist groups to commit acts of violence. A group of them even tried to kidnap Michigan’s governor, for fuck’s sake.
And while he did all of this shit, Trump supporters cheered. “Fuck your feelings” has been their clarion call.
And now that their God King has been soundly defeated—even though, like the man-child he is, he refuses to admit it—the people who he and his supporters targeted for the last four years are supposed to empathize with them?
Are you fucking kidding me?
Look, I get it. Some of you white folks have Trump supporters in your families. And you let them slide for four years because you didn’t want to stir the pot. You went to Thanksgiving with your Trump-loving relatives and sat there while they spewed garbage about MS-13 stealing kindergarteners from their beds and turning them into gang members. You opened presents beside the Christmas tree while your uncle wondered whether Jews were taking over the media and hiding secret messages in packages of Kosher hot dogs.
You helped your 95-year-old racist grandma blow out her birthday candles right after she shouted “All Lives Matter” and talked about how colored people are always looking for handouts.
And because you spent four years too cowardly to talk to your racist relatives, you expect us to do it for you.
And besides, how is this olive branch-extension operation supposed to go? These people are fragile as fuck, all of their bleating about Democrats being snowflakes notwithstanding. A lot of them think being called racist is the worst thing that could happen to them. They are not willing to even entertain that they might have once maybe said something racist, much less grapple with the fact that white supremacy has a hold on them and it’s fucking with the rest of us.
So tell me, John Q. Whiteguy: How am I supposed to empathize with these people? How am I supposed to talk to these people?
And more importantly: Why is it always the responsibility of oppressed people to reach out to their oppressors?
It’s always people on the left who need to be nicer to people on the right. Even after Trump won and his supporters were gloating in 2016, op-eds in the New York Times insisted that Democrats needed to reach out to Trump supporters.
“We need to reach out to Trump voters in a spirit of empathy and contrition,” Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, wrote in the New York Times in 2016 after Trump had won. White liberals on Twitter insisted everyone must understand that not all Trump voters are racist. Some of them just felt left behind by a world that is changing. Yeah? Well suck it up, Grandma.
And now it’s four years later, Trump lost, and it’s still the same song and dance from white liberals.
Now is the time for every Biden supporter to reach out to one person who voted for Trump.
Empathize with them.
Tell them you know how they feel (you do, from 2016).
Come up with one issue you can agree on.
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) November 7, 2020
I’m supposed to tell some Trump voter that I know how they feel? Well I don’t. I don’t know how it feels to support a monster. I don’t know how it feels to purposefully vote against my own interests. I don’t know how it feels to worship a predator.
When do marginalized people get a break? When do white people have to do the work? Why is it easier for white liberals to empathize with racists than with the targets of their racism? Why do we have to be the bigger person?
I say no.
YOU be the bigger person.