Do You Know Self-Respecting Black People Who Support Donald Trump?
A recent article in the Washington Post stated that Donald Trump has less than one percent of the Black vote in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. It goes on to assert that only six percent of Black people support Trump nationally. Whether you’re into Hillary Clinton or not, the lack of Black support for Trump probably makes you sigh with relief. You might think to yourself, of course! No self-respecting black person I know would vote for Trump. Except maybe Uncle Freddy, but Freddy is crazy. Then, if you’re like me, you’d go outside, sit on the stoop with your wine glass and strike up a conversation with your neighbor.
And you’d discover that you’ve found an anomaly: They support Donald Trump .
So there we were, sitting on our stoop, my neighbor and I. There were kids across the street playing basketball, and the local bootlegger had just come by with some movies. All was well. The sun was setting and our conversation flowed easily from movies, to music, to current events, and finally politics.
Why don’t I sit out here more often? I thought to myself, as my neighbor was bringing up the 2016 election.
“That’s why I mess with Trump,” he said.
At first, it didn’t register. My neighbor is pretty chill, but sometimes he flirts with me, so conversations always require me to filter out half of what he says. I was about to file his comment in the same place I put his unwanted compliments when he added, “Well, I really support Bernie, but if not Bernie than Trump.”
“Wait,” I turned to him, “Trump over Hillary?”
“Yeah,” he replied. “Of course.”
It took me a second, but I finally fixed my side-eye to ask him why. Under what circumstance could he possibly “mess with Trump”? I expected him to rail against the amorality of the Clinton administration or the rise of political dynasties. I expected him to extol the virtues of Bernie Sanders (a.k.a., the unsullied), the brokenness of our electoral system, or point to Clinton legislation that fostered the mass incarceration of Black people. Did he do that? No. No, he did not.
“Trump is going to bring our jobs back,” he stated.
There was a look of determination and triumph in his eyes. When I tried to explain why it was economically impossible for any president to overturn the tide of globalization, he silenced me.
“You clearly never needed a low-paying job before.”
I didn’t tell him I could use one right now.
This conversation with my neighbor isn’t an isolated instance. In the wake of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile’s deaths, a good friend of mine was trying to make sense of the wreckage.
“I just feel like Trump can turn all this around.”
“Huh?” I wrote back. “You think Trump will crack down on police brutality?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Trumpknows what’s up.”
Now, despite Trump’s insistence that “the system is rigged against him too,” and that we Black folks aren’t wrong for thinking that, most of us can admit that easing systemic racism isn’t The Donald’s primary political agenda. And based on his past comments, it doesn’t even register as a concern.
I chalked my friend’s ramblings up to those of a person who has just endured the trauma of seeing two police shootings in less than 24 hours, but I was shocked. I don’t live in the South. I don’t roll with conservative Christians, and I consider most of my friends to be well-informed citizens, yet there are Black Trump supporters in my own backyard.
“How will having Donald Trump really impact your daily life,” my neighbor asked me the night we hung out on the stoop. “What are you so afraid of?”
I rattled off xenophobia, economic turmoil, and the danger of Trump’s potential Supreme Court appointments, but his question struck a nerve. The truth is that state and local elections have far greater impact than federal ones, and I’m not actually registered to vote in the district where I sleep. After I went upstairs, his question stayed with me.
What are you so afraid of?
There are tons of reasons why Trump is unfit to be president. Beyond the legislative and economic implications of a Trump administration (which are scary enough), what scares me most is the possibility that if he’s elected, it could embolden racists to act out their hateful ideations. Just as #Brexit was met with a surge of idiots bigots harassing people in the streets, a Trump election could turn anti-immigration rhetoric into full-blown hate crimes. To be a Black person in this country is to understand the effects of bigotry, hatred, and fear on a visceral level. To support Trump would be an act of radical amnesia — increasingly hard to do given the current state of affairs.
What scares you most about a Trump administration? Any Black Trump supporters want to defend the man?