Afterthoughts on an election debacle

00_DrEFayeWilliamsFor liberals or progressives, the 2016 presidential election is nothing less than a DEBACLE.Since Donald Trump’s victory, political and social uncertainty remain top-trending topics.

Trump now holds us in suspense, looking to his cabinet appointments as predictive of his method of governance. He has much of the nation and a large part of the world holding their collective breaths awaiting his next unpredictable move.

Having listened to many post-mortems, I’ve concluded that some console, some congratulate and others point the finger of guilt. And some wish to debate “why” instead of engaging in future-oriented dialogue.

I take pride and consolation in the fact that Black women voted overwhelmingly for Secretary Clinton. The effect was that Black women’s vote carried the more closely contested states and kept a Clinton victory within striking distance in others. Exit polling showed that 94 percent of Black women voted for Clinton.

Charles D. Ellison, contributing editor at The Root, said, “If anyone is to blame for Trump’s dastardly White nationalist-driven win, to the dropping jaws of many, clouds can’t be sent over Black women… Sisters may have instinctively felt the approaching electoral freight train – perhaps that same way in which worried Black mothers, for centuries, have given racial-warning pep talks to Black children, bracing for dreams deferred.”

Ellison went on, “Whether Black women’s votes were, indeed, an honest attempt at sincerely supporting the candidate or whether they were seated in a real belief that she would be the most qualified president since, well, Barack Obama, is beside the point. What’s poignant is the impressive show of electoral force from Black women, despite odds historically stacked against them and – frankly – the almost scandalous underestimation of their value at Election Day polls.”

Racism was involved
Among other things, I’m disgusted by attempts to disavow racism as a major component of Trump’s victory. Although thinly-veiled and less than subtle, appeal to racist leanings was a hallmark of Trump’s campaign. Seen in increasing daily encounters, current incidents of blatant racism give evidence that Trump’s campaign opened the door to a resurgence of overt racism. As a former educator, most disturbing is that much of the resurgence has shown up in many of our middle and high schools.

“If you can convince the lowest White man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t know you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him someone to look down on and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” Attributed to President Johnson, that quote rings more true now than when first spoken.

Privilege is real
However rationalized, White privilege is real and expected by those who’re White and those willing to submit. Most White people prefer being White to anything else in the world. The benefits of that privilege are taught from birth and are culturally embedded. For many Whites, equality of opportunity and social justice are tantamount to “reverse discrimination.” For that demographic, the last 8 years have been comparable to trudging waterless through the desert.

Although positive prospects for our next four years seem non-existent, now is not the time to roll over in dismay. Our response to the challenges of a Trump administration will shape our own and our children’s future. We’ve come too far to relinquish the gains we’ve made since Emancipation and it’s REQUIRED that ALL of us activate and mobilize against any attempt to turn back the clock of freedom and justice.

Dr. E. Faye Williams is national chair of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. Contact her via www.nationalcongressbw.org.

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