Trending Topics

Dear White People, Spare Us Your Righteous Indignation and Safety Pins

Dear white America: This is all on you. The results of the presidential election are all yours, so own it, embrace it and deal with it. Donald Trump is America’s Great White Hope. There will be no more Blackness in the White House—ever again, if millions of white Americans have their way—and soon that blip on the radar will become just a distant and fleeting memory.

This was the angry white man’s last stand, and he has spoken. And it has placed white liberals in quite the quandary. As long as white liberals could point to a small fringe of whites as the racists in America, they did not have to deal with their own racism. But now that Trump has been elected with a majority of the white vote, liberals are now discovering that white supremacy is widespread and endemic—forcing them to look within.

The day after Election Day, millions of white liberals were taken by surprise and caught sleeping at the wheel. They obviously thought Trump’s support was limited to “poor white trash,” but he won among well-to-do and college-educated whites, as well. Apparently, his hateful message was not a deal-breaker for these people, but instead, reflected a collective statement of white-skin solidarity they might not want to publicly admit they share.

What makes Trump noteworthy is there is no shame in his game. He has effectively blown the lid off white supremacy. He is bringing the overt racists out of the woodwork, those who are unacceptable in polite company, and letting them shine in the light of his burning crosses. The president-elect is giving them key positions in his government and all kinds of security clearances, all in order to make America great again and create a living nightmare for Black folks, because that is what white nationalism demands.

There has been a great deal of white shaming over the election, mostly done by other whites, and it has all been rather entertaining.

But let’s take this a step further and get back to that heretofore unacknowledged liberal racism, shall we? We all know that many of Trump’s supporters are blatant and unabashed white nationalists. However, white liberals have yet to come face to face with their OWN racism, with their white-skin privilege and the ways in which they, through their own action or inaction, benefit from a system that keeps Black people and other minority groups down and in their place. For years, white liberal politicians, including the Clintons, have been the architects of laws and policies that have warehoused Black people in prison, put them to death or on the slow burn of a life sentence, separated families and devastated communities, exploited impoverished Black countries like Haiti, and deregulated the financial markets and allowed for a subprime mortgage crisis that resulted in a historic loss of Black wealth. And all of this was done to enrich the careers and pocketbooks of said politicians and their business associates, not with the sneer of a bigot from central casting but with the toothy smile of a so-called friend. And each time, after the damage was done, all we ever received was a halfhearted apology—if that—followed by business as usual and a request for our continued, unwavering support.

So, with Trump perceived as a contained political phenomenon with appeal limited to the stereotyped “hillbillies,” white liberals were safe in pointing the finger at Trump the villain—and he is a bad man, indeed—while conveniently ignoring the beam in their own eye, not to mention the centuries-old, comprehensive system of oppression. A system that benefits white people individually and collectively precisely because of the damage it does to Black people.

The Trump victory was shocking to many people, but the circumstances that propelled him to the White House were by no means surprising to Black folks. Living each and every day with the fear of being hunted down, and dealing with the daily indignities and micro-aggressions we endure, we are well acquainted with the breadth and scope of white supremacy and institutional racism, of the wholesale damage the collective lynch mob is capable of achieving. A recent skit on “Saturday Night Live,” in which Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock attend an election night party where the white folks show their cluelessness on racism and their obliviousness to the very real prospect of a Trump victory, perfectly captured the Black perception of the liberal mindset.

Despite having the luxury of living in a fantasy world in which racism is contained and has nothing to do with them, white liberals finally had their wake-up call, should they choose to accept it. Black America has always known that slogans like “Make America Great Again” and “Take Our Country Back” are the clarion call to the lynch mob. We’ve always known that we are alone and on our own in this country. We’ve sounded the alarm for years, but our words have fallen on deaf ears. We were told that our oppression was a figment of our imagination, that we should stop making excuses. Meanwhile, for those whites who are new to the game and just “discovering” that racism really is a thing (gasp!), we respond: “Yes, America really is as bad as it looks right now.”

White liberals, stop living in denial. You messed up. But now you have the opportunity to fix it, not just for some future election, but for good. If you care and want to make a difference, you must come correct. You must challenge, resist and eradicate white privilege—including your own—and stop counting on Black folks to handle the heavy lifting and do the job white people should be doing. Go teach your people, go fight against racism in your own community. Gestures have their place, but they are designed primarily to make YOU feel better, to assuage YOUR guilt. They don’t do ANYTHING for US, the REAL victims. They are no substitute for action, for the hard, painful work of dismantling white supremacy and institutionalized racism. Ultimately, safety pins will not protect Black people from domestic, state-sponsored terrorism and Klan violence nor will it protect Trump’s other targeted victims.

White folks, we have no use for your righteous indignation. Black suffering has gone unnoticed since Day One. What we need is for you to lay your bodies on the tracks.

Back to top