For most of us, it didn’t take an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol to know we were living in a deeply divided America—one-half of which had been literally rallied into a frenzy by Donald J. Trump. For political commentator and New York Times bestselling author Keith Boykin, a veteran of the Clinton administration who has worked in political circles for several decades, the moment was simply the inevitable culmination of increasing fear of a more diverse America—one in which white Americans are predicted to become a minority as soon as 2045.
That fear, and how we arrived at this political moment are the crux of Boykin’s latest book, Race Against Time: The Politics of a Darkening America. As Keith—who, full disclosure, also happens to be my cousin—explained on this week’s episode of The Root Presents: It’s Lit!, our nation is in a cold civil war, with xenophobia and anti-Blackness comprising much of its core.
“I remember when Trump was president, I’d get up every morning at seven or eight and immediately start going through Twitter and other news articles and all the craziness and the chaos and his tweets. And it was just so much it was mind-boggling,” Keith recalled, adding, “it was overwhelming for me. And it made me think this has to be documented, not just about Donald Trump, but about this moment in our country, about what this is all about. Because there’s a lot of people—speaking of gaslighting—a lot of people in the white sort of commentariat who were claiming that people were just supporting him because they were worried about their economic anxiety—you know, they were working-class people whose needs weren’t being met by the Democratic Party, so the Republicans were finally offering them solutions.
“And I just thought that was such B.S.—and almost every Black person I know thought it was B.S., too,” he continued, “in part, because black people are working-class voters as well, and we weren’t going to vote for a rabid, racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic bigot to be president of the United States. We knew that this washed-up game show host had no qualifications to be in this position and that he was dividing the country in a way that I’ve never seen at any time in my lifetime. And they continued to deny this was happening...I mean, it’s like Black people have been screaming to the rafters about these issues for decades, and people don’t pay attention to us—you know, we’ve always been the canary in the coal mine. It’s time that white America pays attention.”
Hear more from the ever-insightful Keith Boykin in Episode 52 of The Root Presents: It’s Lit!: Keith Boykin on the Race Against Time, available on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, Amazon, NPR One, TuneIn, and Radio Public.