To all those people of color who call themselves progressives and are “Bernie or bust” supporters, I’m really going to need you to wipe your tears, get your life right and get this through your head: Brown people do not have the luxury of living under a Donald Trump presidency. And that means you do not have the luxury of voting your petty ego in this election.
Let’s be clear about one thing: The vast majority of people who are on the “Bernie or bust” bandwagon are not people of color. Why? Because the vast majority of people who supported Bernie Sanders were white.
According to available CNN exit polls, Sanders failed to win a majority of African-American voters in any state. Yes, Sanders won a lot of states. But in most cases, the electorates were whiter than a bike-polo match in a hipster neighborhood park featuring Neil Patrick Harris and Tim Kaine.
This is why Seth Myers accurately said that the “Bernie or bust” movement inside the Democratic National Convention had more white booing “than a Casper movie.” And the boos and tears, for the most part, represented salty trails of white privilege.
White progressives like to talk about how they value diversity. But when it comes to actually doing anything that tangibly protects people of color in a significant way, they will always choose themselves if it poses any threat to their narrow interests. That, of course, is to be expected by individuals who do not recognize, or care, about their privileged status.
That, I understand.
What I do not understand are the many individuals of color who have taken the same position and are determined to vote their egos as well.
Michael Harriot, writing for The Root, said that he would not be voting for Hillary Clinton this fall, in part because she called black men superpredators back when text messaging was done through a pager. That, along with some of the policy positions supported by her husband—who left office when cellphones cost 10 cents per minute to use—somehow makes her evil.
And in his eyes, people like me are troglodyte thinkers because “choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.” He “will not choose evil.”
Based on such rhetoric, here are four things Imma need you “Bernie or bust” supporters to understand, in the opinion of this troglodyte.
1. Hillary Clinton is a shady politician who called African Americans superpredators 20 years ago. Donald Trump is bats—t crazy who probably called Latinos and Muslims superpredators 20 minutes ago. And did I say he was bats—t crazy? There is no use in belaboring this point. Trump is a petty, racist, xenophobic human being who may or may not be suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. He isn’t qualified to serve as president of a homeowners association, much less president of the United States. And you know this. Yet for some reason you think your ego is more important than protecting all of black and brown humanity from a madman.
Doesn’t matter. he won’t win, you say …
2. Remember the Ralph Nader conscious voters in Florida and New Hampshire during the 2000 election? Look it up if you think voting for a third party in a close election doesn’t matter.
3. Donald Trump isn’t the only one who wins if he is elected. Do you know who the biggest winner is with a Trump presidency? Jessica Lynn Sanders and the rest of “real” America. If Trump wins, every racist in this nation will feel emboldened because their message of hate will have been confirmed through a ballot vote. Racism will have won. Islamophobia will have won. Xenophobia will have won. Homophobia will have won. And they will likely parade their victory through increased daily hostility toward people of color at the workplace, in public and, through Trump, public policy.
4. If Donald Trump wins, the progressive movement will be substantially weakened, if not ended. Progressives will be in a much better place to continue the movement set forward by Black Lives Matter and Sanders if Clinton wins, because Clinton will have to be accountable if she wants to win re-election. Trump won’t owe the movement s—t. And he—and his supporters—will likely treat such efforts accordingly.
Moreover, the amount of resentment toward stubborn, petty “Bernie or bust” voters will sour the movement among many progressives, including many people of color. You think you’re getting shade now? It doesn’t compare with what you’ll get thrown at you should Trump win an election because you decided to write in Bernie Sanders or stay home.
Right before my wife (who is now even more terrified of Trump than she was before) left for work, I told her that I was writing this piece. I will leave you with the comment she offered: “This is not the Bible. Sometimes things are more complicated than right or wrong. People need to start acting like adults.”
That especially means you, “Bernie or bust” voters of color.
Letrell Crittenden, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of communication at Robert Morris University and a newly elected board member of the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation. He studies and writes about issues related to diversity and inclusion within the media industry and community journalism.