On Saturday November 7, around 11:50 a.m. EDT, most major news networks called the election in favor of President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, who received the most votes of any presidential ticket in U.S. history. Some might say, “We did it! We voted him out!” and that’s all fine and dandy, but there were still over 70 million people that voted for Trump. Seventy million people who decided, after four years of ignorance, four years of hatred, four years of lies, that Trump was who they felt best served their interests and represented this country.
Over 70 million people felt that Donald Trump, in all of his personality, was what the United States stands for. Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Trump has been telling us who he is since his first bid for the presidency in the 1988 election, where he ran on the idea that the U.S. was a failure of a nation. He’s a bully who believes that there are always going to be winners and losers in life, but winning in the United States is a lot harder for the people who exist under the oppressive and contradictory systems we have in place.
But this baring of the true self is not restricted to the president. This country, and who it elects as its leaders, has shown time and again what it truly stands for and who it wants to validate. Barring Buchanan and Obama, we have only had married white men in the highest office in the land—white men who often hail from religious communities that have mistranslated and over interpreted their own doctrines. This presidential election only proved what we already know: both major parties in this country are too focused on making white men and the women they control happy, when data shows progressive policies win seats and make life better for everyone.
But that’s the problem, isn’t it? If life were better for everyone, if we only worked because we wanted to rather than because we must survive and have health insurance, if instead of prisons we had adequate access to mental health care and the capital required to buy the things we need to live, if the land that was stolen was returned to be governed by the original stewards, then that would mean whiteness would have no grounds to stand on. Whiteness can only be superior if there is something considered inferior to it, and we have seen that anyone demanding liberation for all—but especially Black women—is public enemy number one.
A historical example I would like to provide is the way that wealthy, slave-owning whites pitted poor white people against the enslaved Black people they worked alongside on the land owned by wealthy white planters. This owning class wanted to ensure that poor white people had as little political liberty as possible. By creating a caste-like system, wealthy whites were able to convince poor white people that, due to the color of their skin, they were indeed superior to Black people, even though they were clearly being left behind to live in the same exact squalor as Black people in the south. Thus, the Civil War was not only about the “states’ rights” to dehumanize Black people and ensure they were seen as second-class citizens, but it was also crucial in maintaining the myth that whiteness was more valuable than adequate pay, sanitary living conditions and food.
Today, we are still dealing with the effects of a minority of wealthy, white elites mobilizing a small number of poor white people to terrorize BIPOC and other marginalized people in the name of defending white property and white power. The recent assaults from the GOP on our “democracy” in order to stage a coup and take back the White House are not going to go away through news commentators analysing the validity of their statements. It is time to believe the Republican Party. They have been telling us who they are and what they stand for since Nixon’s campaign demanding Law and Order and Reagan’s War on Drugs.
Whiteness is built on entitlement. An entitlement to your stolen wealth, an entitlement to jobs that were handed to you by your fathers, an entitlement to spaces that are simply not for you. I’m not sure how many ways I have to say that a divestment from whiteness and the false sense of superiority you’ve been fed is more crucial now than ever. This delusion is going to cost us this election and countless more lives. Not only is COVID-19 devastating our nation, but climate disaster is imminent and neither the incumbent nor the president-elect have a comprehensive plan to address it. But at least it’s a sunny 75 degrees in November, right?