Black voters know they cannot afford to waste time behaving like naval gazing idealists while Donald J. Trump remains in office. Trump’s racially motivated policies are an existential threat to Black humanity. Democracy in Color, a political organization concerned with race in politics, has documented 200 instances of racism committed by the Trump administration. These include well known events such as referring to African American football players as “sons of bitches,” during the NFL anthem protests in 2017, various racialized travel bans, caging children at the border, referring to countries populated by people of color as “shitholes;” and, now, the move to denaturalize the citizenship of immigrants through the Department of Justice — as led by Trump appointee Attorney General Bill Barr.
The U.S. Justice Department has recently opened an office focused on denaturalizing immigrant citizenship. It is not a stretch to suggest that the next move will be to eliminate birthright citizenship. African Americans were given citizenship rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution during the Reconstruction era (1867–1877) with the clause “born or naturalized” that appears in the text of this Amendment. Many black voters have indicated that defeating Trump is one of the most important objectives for them in the presidential election.
In their June 2019 issue, The Atlantic published a story entitled “An Oral History of Trump’s Bigotry” that details the long history of racism that was practiced, as the author’s document, by Trump before he became president. “His racism and intolerance have always been in evidence,”
“His racism and intolerance have always been in evidence,”
state the authors of this piece as they note the many instances of Trump’s racism including the Justice Department’s 1973 lawsuit against the Trump Management Company, to his embrace of birtherism, in the context of this story. The U.S. government, in their 1973 lawsuit, alleged that racial discrimination was practiced by the Trump family company in refusing to rent to African Americans.
Trump’s animus towards the first black president in U.S. history is well known. This ranges from his insinuating that President Barack H. Obama was not born in the country to suggesting that Obama was not smart enough to do well at an Ivy League school by offering 5 million dollars for Obama’s grades. He also continuously questions every major (and minor) achievement of the Obama administration from healthcare reform to the Iran deal while seeking to dismantle the first black president’s legacy. “Make America Great Again” essentially means make America white again. Those who support the man and his mantra are — at the least — complicit with this racism.
Carl Bernstein, the famed journalist, has described Trump as a “neo-fascist” and this is what concerns black voters the most at the moment. We know how fascism works. The fascistic elements of the racial state in America are vividly familiar to most black Americans who have lived through the terror of Jim Crow segregation, mass incarceration, hyper surveillance, and the arbitrary daily harassment and gunning down of black bodies in the street. African American historian and sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois once stated, in his essay “Criteria for Negro Art,” that black people see the society “for what it really is” because they possess a sort of second sight. According to Du Bois, the pain and potential is what we know. Coupled with the evisceration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and unmitigated black voter suppression across multiple states, black voters know that this is no time to be frivolous with one’s vote. It is a time for pragmatism.
There are no perfect Democratic Party candidates for president. None of these candidates exist without fault or egregious missteps when it comes to race and public policy. This includes Joe Biden’s countless verbal gaffes from calling Obama “clean,” while on the campaign trail during the 2008 election cycle, to his ridiculous retelling of the “Corn Pop” story, and support of the 1994 Crime Bill (signed into law by President Bill Clinton) that help give rise to mass incarceration. Elizabeth Warren’s claim of Native American heritage did not go over well with people of color; and, Pete Buttigieg has had serious issues with the African American community in his home state of Indiana over race and policing practices. Given his direct participation in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, Bernie Sanders seems to have the most street credibility when it comes to black civil rights. Most would say his progressive politics would serve the interests of black voters more succinctly than any other Democratic candidate.
The majority of white voters voted for Trump in 2016 and they will vote for him again. They will not likely vote for a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist who seeks to redistribute the wealth of the nation. Race in America is ultimately about power and the maintenance of white supremacy. Black voters know that the vast majority of white voters will vote for Trump again — and not for Bernie. Biden’s recent landslide in South Carolina, he won nearly every county in the state, largely as a result of black support, is a reflection of the pragmatism of black voters.