Most of my friends who grew up in the South have a story about the time their mothers sent them out to the yard to pick their own switch for a whipping. I do not. My mom summoned me for a spanking once and declared that I had to go outside and pick a switch, but I refused. She warned me that if I didn’t go, I would get a much worse whipping, but I stood there staunchly and refused. It was not because of valor or principle; it was because I possess one trait that makes me obstinate and immovable as a stubborn elephant:
After a week that made the Republican National Convention look like the remedial, junior varsity Sadie Hawkins dance to the Democrats’ star-studded prom, I thought I might feel differently about Hillary Clinton, but I don’t. Black people are the only ones who are ever asked to “forgive and forget,” and that might be the germ of our problem. We are too willing to forgive. We forget too easily.
But not me, because I’m petty.
I’ve always been this way. Whenever anyone does something objectionable to me or someone I love, I can’t f—k with them anymore. I can’t place my arm around them and smile in photographs. I can’t greet them with a Christian hug after church. I stay away from them forever. By default, I love everyone, but if I don’t love you, I want to fight you. Forever. I can forgive you. I can forget you. But not both. Nowadays they call that “petty,” so I guess I’m petty.
That’s why I’m not “with her.”
Whenever I state this, troglodyte thinkers automatically assume that I’m with Donald Trump. I’ve written more scathing condemnations of Trump than I have of any other human being (except maybe Kanye West). There is a prevailing school of shallow thought that if you’re not helping Hillary Clinton, you're helping Donald Trump. I am not that stupid. That’s not how math works. That’s not how the Electoral College works. But let me be clear: I am not with Donald Trump. I think he is a racist, entitled poster-boy-for-white-privilege half-wit capitalizing on white nationalism and Caucasian fear.
Is that clear enough for you?
I do not want Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as president of the United States, but most of the people reading this already know the litany of reasons we should reject the thought of voting for Trump. Those people tell me they aren’t necessarily in love with Clinton, but they are faced with choosing the lesser of two evils.
Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. I will not choose evil.
I certainly understand the point of those who want to vote for Clinton. I am intelligent enough to understand that some people do not share my views, and theirs are as valid as mine. I also know that there are very few people as petty as I am.
They might be able to forget about the time she used the same reasoning and rhetoric as Trump—reasoning with the white electorate to choose her because she was the candidate for the white working class.
They might be able to excuse her race-baiting past dismissing Barack Obama’s 2008 primary victory by saying “Jesse Jackson won here, too.” They might not remember that the rumor that Obama was a secret Kenyan Muslim originated from the Hillary Clinton campaign. Or when she demanded that Obama “denounce” Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. Or when groups from across the country got together and begged her to stop race-baiting. Or when—years before Trump brought up the issue—she stated that she wanted to build a wall along the border of Mexico.
They might not think as I do. They might not know that she has demonstrated the willingness and the predilection to go to war more quickly than her Republican counterpart. They might not believe, as I do, that money in politics and the slow transformation of this country into an oligarchy is as insidiously dangerous as the lump-headed racism of the alt-right that is drowning the Republican Party.
They might not think that her unwillingness to release the transcripts of the backroom speeches she gave to the corporations that bankrupted this country is as egregious a crime as Trump’s refusal to release his taxes. They might not understand that the poor people who lost their homes, retirement money and kids’ college funds during the financial raping of this country by the institutions that paid her millions to come speak in front of the killers of democracy did not just make that money disappear. It is in Hillary Clinton’s (and other’s) bank accounts.
But that’s not why I’m not with her. If those were my only grievances, I might be able to set them aside and vote for her. Probably not, but maybe. There is one act by Hillary Clinton that I can never forgive:
I am a “superpredator.”
I grew up poor, in the belly of the crack epidemic. It was not down the street from me. It was not across town. It was in my house.
I remember how she sold black men out for a few more slivers of power. I remember how she campaigned for the law that sentenced black men to sentences 10 times longer than those for equal amounts of cocaine. I remember how she crisscrossed the country ginning up white fear, calling for “law and order,” the same as Trump did last week. I remember her saying that we need to be brought “to heel.” We superpredators do not forgive easily.
That’s how they see us. When someone stands next to the most powerful man on the planet as “first lady” and demonizes a group of men, how can we be surprised when they shoot the ones wearing hoodies in Florida with nothing in their pockets but Skittles? How can you fault a Minnesota policeman for having a nervous trigger finger when he pulls over a “superpredator”? Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice, playing in the park with a toy gun in Ohio, probably looked like a “superpredator” from a distance. I climbed out of a crack-infested, poor, dirt-road cesspool with an education and worked hard for everything I have.
But if you saw me, how would you know I wasn’t a “superpredator,” too?
Black people have hearts as big and infinite as the universe will allow, but I am tired of forgiving those who trespass against me. I am not “with her.” I will not lend a hand to my oppressor. I can’t be “with her.” I am too petty.
Ask my mama.