If there’s any gift I have, it’s that of sleep. I’m a very skilled sleeper. Through all of pregnancy and babies and stress and family issues and everything else, I’ve remained an excellent sleeper. I have so little control over this gift, and yet I’m unreasonably pleased that I have it.
Well. For the first time in my memory, I can’t sleep.
The baby woke not long ago, at an extremely unusual time. I can’t remember the last time she was awake at that hour. She must be feeling the pressure of the morning, too.
Why is racial justice important?
As someone who discusses and educates in the sphere of racial diversity and inclusion; global education; and fostering compassion, connection, and understanding in our children, racial justice is something I’ve considered a lot. Even still, it sort of makes me shake in my boots to write all these thoughts out for anyone to read.
There are many people who have spoken and written a lot more eloquently than I have on why racial justice is important, but suffice it to say: we stand for freedom and equality. A lack of equity causes far more damage than the sum of the benefits for the few. A lack of equity harms not only those who must endure the brunt of racism, but also communities at large.
Is it racist to vote for Trump?
Some time ago, a friend asked if I thought it was racist to vote for Trump. I didn’t know the answer. I kept mulling and pondering and wanting to write write write, knowing I couldn’t until I felt more clarity in my own thoughts. I pondered the question for weeks.
I still don’t have perfect answers. But as the weeks wore on, it became ever more clear to me: a vote for Trump prioritizes other things over racial justice and equity. Because Trump himself prioritizes many many things over racial justice and equity. As much as he calls himself “not racist” or as much as others say he is kind/smart/caring/loves babies, that doesn’t change his IMPACT.
And his impact is such that he has made racist statements time and again. Time and again, his words have agitated white supremacy organizations. Time and again, many people of color have felt fear because of his words. In the last four years, Black and brown folx have experienced greater violence, anti-bias education has been halted, and systemic racism has been dismissed. There is just no getting around the fact that Trump is a racist and uses his position of power to validate and encourage racism in others, too.
Isn’t Joe racist, too?
Sure, yeah. Most of us have deeply embedded racist socializations. We’ve been taught racism in schools and in communities since we were born. Joe’s no different, and he’s definitely made racist statements and perpetuated racist behaviors.
He’s also apologized. He’s expressed a commitment to working toward racial equity. That doesn’t excuse him, but it’s a start. He’s not perfect. He isn’t even the best candidate to do combat racism. But he’s the best option we have at stopping someone who will not only not work to end racism, but will actively perpetuate it himself, and inspire his followers to do the same.
This Isn’t An Ordinary Election
But shouldn’t we be able to vote our conscience? Why should we have to maintain a two-party system? Shouldn’t we vote for the BEST person, instead of just the better person?
I get it. We don’t want to feel muscled into voting for the lesser of two evils. But this isn’t an ordinary election. This isn’t a time when we’re choosing between two people who will both muddle through anti-racism work. This isn’t even a time with two people who are lackluster on combating racism. This is a choice between someone who will try to work against racism a little bit, and someone who will actively continue to be racist and incite racism in his fans.
On the debate stage and in many other places, Trump called himself the “least racist person in the room.” The sheer fact that he would make that statement centers himself and shows an utter lack of willingness to listen to those who have actually endured racism. It shows a lack of willingness to learn. It shows a lack of willingness to believe. And it shows a complete lack of respect for objective facts and truth. It’s dangerous and violent to continue to have someone like that leading our country.
So, can I be anti-racist and vote for Trump?
Maybe you’re not actively perpetuating racism yourself. But being anti-racist means you’re actively working against racism. You’re calling it out and stopping it in its tracks. A vote for a president that chooses to regularly make racist statements, and who refuses to acknowledge and work to change a system built to support racism, upholds racism.
So you may very well not be actively racist yourself. You may be “not racist.” But in my mind, there’s no way to be proactively anti-racist while voting for Trump. Voting for him is a vote for the whole package, whether you like it or not. Your vote shows what you are willing to endure, what you find acceptable, and the price you are willing to pay for something else. That price is the perpetuation and increased proliferation of racism.
Voting for Trump prioritizes other issues over racism
In the end, voting for Trump says that you value other things over curbing racism. It says that you prioritize other things over equality for all. And perhaps that’s acceptable to you. Perhaps that is the price you’re willing to pay.
But it’s impossible to avoid the fact that choosing him is choosing the economy over working against racism. It’s choosing international trade over working against racism. Perhaps it’s choosing the lives of babies over working against racism (though I’ll provide all the data you want for why if you really care about babies, voting for Trump will NOT accomplish your goal of saving them). It’s choosing taxes or healthcare over working against racism against Black and brown people.
I’m brown. In essence, it’s choosing those things over me. It’s choosing those things over me feeling comfortable and welcomed. It’s choosing those things over me having equal housing and career opportunities. It’s choosing those things over me and people like me having equal power and rights and space in the United States of America.
If I were Black? You’d be choosing those things over my life.
The racial cost of political issues
There are a myriad other issues with Trump – e.g., how can we strive for freedom for all when we don’t have a baseline of accepted truth? How can we separate parents and children? How can we ignore science and experts in their fields? – but this is one to which I’ve given special consideration. This is one that intersects with my work and passion, and on which I feel I need to speak.
So do I think it’s possible to not be racist and vote for Trump? I suppose so. Anti-racist, no. Not racist? Perhaps. Just know that by doing so, there’s a cost to all the benefits you’re choosing. And that cost is racism.
By doing so, you’re choosing other things as more important than the people enduring racial inequity. And in the end, is choosing privileges over people the definition of racism after all? That’s for you to decide.