Bridging America’s race divide
Press commentaries predict that the Biden administration will have a difficult task in winning back the support of the traditional European allies that were alienated by Trump. While that will indeed require a Herculean effort, trying to achieve collegiality between Blacks and the whites who voted for Trump is even more complicated. While the members of both groups are American citizens, their differences seem to make them culturally irreconcilable.
In the 2020 presidential election, white voters showed a strong preference for Donald Trump, who tallied 57% of that vote. However, the white vote was only about two-thirds of the total. Consequently, the strong pro-Biden votes of Blacks (87%), Latinos (66%) and Asians (63%) saved the day. Even though Biden won the election, Blacks are painfully mindful of the racially oppressive policies that more than half of whites are willing to inflict on others.
Trump revealed his racist proclivities when he became the leader of the so-called “birthers,” who were challenging Barack Obama’s right to be president. Under the U.S. Constitution, the president must be born in the United States. While there was substantial evidence that Obama was born in Hawaii, Trump continued to insist he was born in Africa until people concluded that Trump’s real concern was having a Black man in the White House.
Once he was elected president in 2016, Trump revived the old Dixiecrat policies. Only one Black was appointed to a cabinet post and none were chosen to head major agencies. In cases of police violence against Blacks, Trump sided with the police. When protesters perpetrated acts of violence in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 11, 2017 to prevent the removal of statues of heroes of the Confederacy, Trump again sided with the racists.
For centuries, Blacks have had to keep company with those who believe in white supremacy. Nonetheless, the language of the Declaration of Independence has sustained Blacks. It states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Blacks also know that as citizens of the United States, they are fundamentally entitled to all the rights of citizenship.
Understandably, Blacks believe that patriotism is a significant attribute. The conduct of Trump raises serious questions as to whether he is in fact a patriot. He insults those who have risked their lives for the nation. He would dare denigrate Sen. John McCain, one of America’s greatest heroes. And he supports the Russian oligarchy, an opponent of American interests, over the legitimate positions of our government agencies.
As commander-in-chief, Trump has also abandoned the welfare of the American people. With full knowledge of the danger wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic, he walked away from the responsibility to care for the health of American citizens. He imposed the primary responsibility on state governments, although he must have known that they lacked the necessary scope of authority to confront such a hazard.
The consequence of Trump’s negligence is that 17,592,760 Americans have been infected and 315,260 have died, the highest per capita death rate in the world. And analysts have determined that Blacks have died at a rate higher than other Americans because of their poverty and greater occupational exposure to the disease. It is too much to expect that Blacks will be indifferent to the suffering and death inflicted on them by Trump and his followers.
The redeeming factor is that 42% of white citizens had also voted for Biden. This will serve as a basis for a renewed Black and white coalition, but the so-called Trumpites might very well continue to instigate racial conflict. This time, Blacks might be unwilling to turn the other cheek. As president, Biden will have to take action to maintain the peace.