On Empathy

It's been a while since I've written here. I'm writing tonight. There is already much hand-wringing and deflecting about what led to the election of a B-list reality star to the highest office in the United States. I need us to be very clear on what happened. This election is on White people. My people.

No, not "working class" White people, or "blue collar" White people. Trump won the White vote across the board. Trump's voters don't share an economic class. They share Whiteness. And I share that with them. I and all of White America is complicit in this result. We did not fight hard enough to prevent it. I did not fight hard enough. I am sorry.

Do not try to seduce the narrative toward some benign explanation involving trade policy and economic anxiety. This election was like some perverse science experiment. The Republican nominee was--is--spectacularly unqualified for the office of president in every way. He has never served in elected office. He has never worked in government. He has, at best, a shaky business record littered with fraud and evasion. He has no coherent policy proposals. He is racist. He is Islamaphobic. He is a serial liar. He is a serial sexual predator.

But he promised racial vengeance, and in the end, that was enough. Disqualification be damned, he promised vengeance. He promised to build a wall to keep out the Mexicans White America just *knows* are stealing its jobs. He promised to bar all Muslims, who White America just *knows* want to kill them, from entering the country. He promised to rain down LAW AND ORDER on the Black communities that White America just *knows* are destroying our great land. 

If I'm a Republican, the lesson I'm taking from this election is the exact opposite of their much publicized autopsy of 2012. Double down on racial paranoia and bigotry and White America will reward you handsomely. 

Hillary Clinton won every racial subgroup except White people. The responsibility for this election could not be more clear.

There have been the predictable calls for "unity" today. And there have been calls for empathy and validation for the White voters who elected a sociopathic con artist president. 

My fellow White people, we should not heed those calls. We can and should work to understand what happened in this election. We can listen, we can leverage relationships, we can challenge. Perhaps we can empathize with problematic and supremacist worldviews because we have, and do, hold those worldviews ourselves. But we cannot validate those views. To validate the White worldview that elected Donald Trump president is to concede a legitimacy to that view that it does not deserve.

We should not validate a worldview that bristles at the idea of not wholly dominating a geographic region, or a school, or an industry. We should not validate a worldview the holds White ways of being as supreme to all others and demands assimilation by those others. We should not validate a worldview that lacquers hate with the name of God. 

But we should interrogate, locate, and attack the sources of those worldviews. We should support and uplift organizations led by marginalized people fighting against oppression. We should engage fellow White people, proactively, unapologetically, and relentlessly. We should fight an education system that so badly skews our mindset that we believe this country to be disproportionately "ours," such that it can be taken "back" from others and made "great again." We should resist the urge that is conditioned in us from a young age to prioritize peace over truth. Some of us may be able to afford to give Donald an "open mind," but too many of our marginalized fellow citizens cannot. We must resist Trump early, often, and forcefully.

I can empathize with problematic, racist orientations to America because I grew up with those orientations. But those orientations are racist when I hold them, and they're racist when anyone else holds them, too.

To my friends who are people of color, who are immigrants, who are gay, who are bi, who are trans, who are ace, who are Muslim, who are women, I am sorry. I am sorry that I did not do more to prevent this outcome. And I promise to do much better. 

White people, we have to do much, much better.