White Suburban Housewives, Listen Up! Will a Racist Nation Vote for a Black Woman?

Let me start by saying that this may be my last article because I’m starting a Ph.D program and I may not have a lot of time for such leisurely thinking and writing. LOL. No, seriously. I’ve enjoyed the freedom to speak out and share my experience, strength and hope with all of you during these racially challenging and growthful times.

I need to be totally transparent here. Kamala Harris was not my first choice. I was hoping that Karen Bass would be chosen as the VP nominee.

Still I, along with the rest of you and social media, was pushed into divine joy over the news of Senator Kamala Harris, a Black woman, being chosen as the Vice Presidential nominee to run alongside Joe Biden. I couldn’t help but think of the giant political shoulders upon which Kamala Harris stands — Shirley Chisholm, who in 1972 made her historical bid for the presidency without the backing of Black folks or the Democratic Caucus. Imagine having that level of courage and resilience!

2020 marks the first time a Black woman was elected to be the VP nominee of a major political party. Black women have arrived back at the precipice of power — our rightful place where we belong, but have always been denied.

We anticipate the not-so-subtle actions of the Trump administration and his supporters. Sexist, racist tropes will come after her.

Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama recently said, Women have been subject to stereotypes and tropes about qualifications, leadership, looks, relationships and experience. Those stereotypes are often amplified and weaponized for Black and Brown women.

They are going to come after Kamala Harris, with the full power of the White House. You do know he has to cheat, lie and attack to win right? So get ready for the dirtiest gutter politics imaginable because this is White Supremacy’s last gasp and it’s going to be ugly.

Whenever progress shows its force in this country, there are always white men ready and working overtime to pull us backwards. Trump won’t just verbally assault Kamala Harris and Joe Biden the way he does; he will continue to vandalize the entire constitutional process; he is a “political arsonist.” He’ll burn everything down to try and keep the presidency and thereby, for the moment — stay out of jail.

Senator Harris, just after making her bid for the Vice Presidency, faced relentless bots that attacked her ethnicity, her interracial marriage, her Blackness and her ambition. The attacks were so egregious that her fellow candidates came to her aid.

Black women have always scared America. We are forced wet nurses, coerced into helping a nation that stole everything from us — our children, our partners, our wombs. We have been creators of all things and the bearers of all things. The fear of acknowledging and making amends for the historical wrongdoing across generations has always made white folks, and particularly white men in power, particularly unsettled.

Zora Neale Hurston’s 1937 novel character Janine Crawford said, “Black women are the mules of the world.”

Hurston captures not only the enduring strength of Black women, but also the abuse we face on a daily basis as we’re forced to carry the world’s problems on our backs.

While there will be grievances about Senator Harris’ past prosecutions of low-level drug offenders and her participation in a criminal justice system that has locked up our nation’s Black and brown potential behind bars, or whether she’s “Black enough,” we cannot afford at this critical time to get petty or lost in our quest for perfection and miss the gravity of the choice we are facing.

We have to stretch into the pain of thinking critically. Unfortunately, many of us treat the critical thinking process as some kind of existential cognitive threat — and get mad about it. We live under too much stress and pressure. I’m not trying to rain on your joy and optimism about Kamala — just asking you to think.

There is a necessity for the Democrats to win the election by a significant margin — a huge one — to prevent Trump from burning Democracy to the ground. He’ll contest the results by suppressing votes, refusing to concede power, etc. All of which he’s already threatened openly. My point is that Democrats need a historic win in order to begin undoing Trumpism. This is where Kamala Harris comes in, at least theoretically — to help achieve this crucial landslide.

But here’s the problem and here’s what we need to think critically about — the secret hate vote. What do I mean? It’s all the “good” white folks who say they are going to vote for a decent and civilized society — then don’t. Once in the privacy of the voting booth and divested of the need to appear like “good white people” to their neighbors and friends of color, they vote for the opposite.

Last time the secret hate vote, which handed the victory to Trump — was the white woman, suburban soccer moms, homemakers, exurban single moms.

And I’ll say it, 50 percent of white women voted for Trump. White women handed him the victory — a victory to his surprise — but mostly said they wouldn’t.

The Oprah-watching soccer moms handed the Presidency to Trump. Why do you think he’s now appealing to white suburbia with his racist comments about protecting them from the threat of low-income housing.

Think about this — are white suburban women really going to back Kamala — a Black woman? Or are they going to do what they did last time — cast the secret hate vote?

The secret hate vote will be a huge deciding factor in this election. Conversely, the secret hate vote, in a general sense, involves trafficking in a view of the country that we ought to leave behind.

Americans are racist. Not all of us. But enough of us are racist. Even the ones who believe themselves to be “good” people and profess shock and outrage at the idea of being racists.

How else is it that Black folks are as poor today as we were 50 years ago? How else is it that America still feels like a segregated society — and looks like one too? Americans are racist — the most racist people in the world, and we only have to look at America’s massive gap in racial outcomes to see it.

Donald Trump is the kind of person whom I imagine esteemed author James Baldwin was thinking of when he said, “Ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”

This moment is crucial and we are facing a critical decision.

Will the nation of racists actually vote for a Black woman? And since we know that America is a massively racist country, can Kamala Harris convert the white suburban, Oprah watching soccer mom from being a secret hate voter who backs Trump?

Or does all of this only help Trump by making that soccer mom even more likely to smile and applaud Kamala, skew the polls and in the voting booth, sneer to herself, “I’m never putting a nigger-woman in the White House” and vote for Trump?

It’s a lot to ponder and think critically about.

What do I think? Well … only time will tell.

Blessings ...

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Paula M. Smith

Paula M. Smith

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PhD Student, Culturally-Attuned Advanced Imago Couples Therapist, Writer and 12-Step Recovery Miracle. Contact me at: paulasmith@post.harvard.edu.