As a Black man, can I be friends with a Trump voter?
today at 7:39 am
I’m struggling. I’m finding myself on the couch fearful, upset, and unmotivated. As a Black man, seeing the President of the United States openly encourage racists has messed me up.
I have Republican friends and I have friends that will vote for Donald Trump. After seeing the President of the United States fail to condemn white supremacy again, I’m left struggling and questioning those friendships.
I’m not talking about a handful of my Facebook “friends” whose applications to the Proud Boys were returned with a bottle of Xanax and a note saying “dude, fucking relax!” Knowing these guys is one of the perks of being raised in Elmhurst, I suppose.
I’m talking about the people whose homes I’ve been in and who have been in mine. My friends. The people who are part of my village.
This isn’t about political party anymore. I have voted for many Republicans. I have neither wanted nor allowed politics to invade my friendships. I want my friends to have different opinions enabling me to see the world from different perspectives which provides an opportunity to learn something.
This election is different. This particular president has made it different for me. For me, the issue no longer about tax policy; the issue no longer is about Wall Street; the issue is no longer about the Supreme Court; the issue is no longer about marriage equality, foreign policy, war abroad or terrorism at home.
The issue is white supremacy.
It’s 2020 and we’re seriously talking about whether white supremacy is OK in a presidential election.
This is no longer about Democrats vs. Republicans. From my perspective as a Black man, it is about right and wrong. From my perspective as an American, it’s about whether the Constitution applies to all of us or just some of us.
Do you support a man for President of the United States that does not condemn white supremacists?
Do you support a man for President of the United States that encourages white supremacists?
If you care more about your brokerage accounts than white supremacy, how comfortable should I be about having you in my home?
If it took this last debate for you to notice that this president won’t condemn white supremacists, then you haven’t been watching. Did the leader of our country speak out when a Black man in Georgia was murdered for jogging in a white neighborhood? Did the leader of our country speak out against an epidemic of white people calling the police on their black neighbors for simply being around that particular white person? The name “Karen” was entered into the national lexicon, yet the leader of our country won’t speak out against white people calling the police on Black people for birdwatching in Central Park?
(and don’t get me going on this president and Central Park. Please google “Donald Trump Central Park Five” if you aren’t aware of bigoted (racist?) statements he made in the past about five Black and Latino men accused and convicted of the rape of a white woman jogger who were ultimately proven innocent).
Do I feel comfortable ending relationships with people that vote for Donald Trump in this election? Is that fair? I can, have, and will continue to disagree with friends on political issues. My state representative (Democrat) can vouch for me yelling in his ear about Illinois tax policy. A few years ago, Illinois Democrats told us they had to temporarily raise income taxes to get out of a hole. Now that temporary tax is permanent AND they seek a Constitutional amendment so they can raise my taxes again?!? All while the lieutenant governor, Juliana Stratton, extorts Illinois voters saying if the amendment doesn’t pass everyone’s tax bill will increase 20%?!! Don’t get me started on Illinois Democrats’ fiscal irresponsibility.
But we can disagree on issues like taxes and remain friends. Not racism.
What America do I want to live in?
I know what American I want to live in. A better question is what America do YOU want to live in?
Do you want to live in an America where All Men Are Created Equal? Or one where white men are maybe a little more equal than their black and brown counterparts?
Do you want to live in an America where our president can’t condemn racism and racists?
Do you want to live in an America where the President of the United States tells white supremacists, on national television, one month before an election to stand by?
Is that the America YOU want to live in?
Is that OK with you?
I know the one that I want to live in. I’d like to live in the America where our chief executive doesn’t need to be prepped by aides on whether white supremacists are “fine people”.
After Kamala Harris was chosen as Joe Biden’s running mate, I had a civil conversation over a drink with a man that supports the president. I like this man; I have been on vacation with this man and his family. We had a civil conversation about Kamala Harris and how she could come around to support Joe Biden after the things she said abut him when she was running for President.
I now want to ask that man, whom I consider a friend, this: do you support a man for president who has repeatedly failed to condemn white supremacy? Do you support a man for president who has consistently encouraged white supremacists?
Do you support a man who has deputized white supremacists by telling them to “stand by?”
If your answer is yes—why? Are you saying that your pocketbook is more important than fighting white supremacy in the United States?
If your answer is yes, then I need to ask myself: is this someone that should be in my life? Do I value people who care more about (insert issue here) than fighting white supremacy? Is that a person that should be in my home? If I want to live in integrity with my beliefs, shouldn’t I have people who are against racism standing with me?
We’re not talking about tax increases. We’re talking about racism and white supremacy.
It is sick that I have to go through my friendships and do his calculus. But as a Black man, who has pretty successfully fought against bias and racism (and is frankly exhausted by it), how can I have someone in my home that cares more about his money than they do about my rights as an African American? How can I pour a drink for someone that values their money more than my Constitutional rights?
This isn’t an election for school board or village president or state representative (I would argue that we should reject people who won’t condemn and encourage racists for these positions too). This is the President of the United States; this is the most important position on the planet. How can we as Americans support a man for that that won’t condemn racists in that office?
The fact that we’re having this conversation proves that racism is alive and well. For those of you that don’t believe white privilege exists…. US HAVING THIS CONVERSATION PROVES IT DOES.
Do I love Joe Biden? No. My hope for the debate was that Joe would not have a fucking stroke. That Joe Biden has become Bernie from “Weekend at Bernie’s” to earn my vote is a 100% absolutely ridiculous hurdle to earn a vote for President of the United States.
But would I rather have Bernie or a racist?
Does Joe Biden have to “clarify” comments (again!) on whether he supports white supremacy?
Does Joe Biden need to consider whether white supremacists are “fine people”?
The President of the United States sets an example not only for our country but the world.
Aren’t we better as a nation than this?
I’m shocked that in 2020, we’re even having this conversation. I’m shocked that a man who has continually and constantly failed to condemn racism and encouraged white supremacists enjoys such broad support. And that’s why I struggle. It’s tough to see a man stoke flames of racial hatred get applause. Do I have to reevaluate me? Do I have to reevaluate my position in this society? Will everything I’ve struggled to earn be taken away from me because of the color of my skin? What about my children? I admit these questions seem a little far out, like that would never happen.
Then again, I never thought I’d see the day in my lifetime the President of the United States openly encourage white supremacists on national television and get applause for it.
If you give him your vote, you’re one of the people applauding.