There is an open secret that most of your favorite activists know, even if they never mention it during their television appearances:
Black people are on their own.
Throughout the course of American history, most white people have never cared about Black lives. This has nothing to do with Critical Race Theory. It is an indisputable fact. While there are no polling numbers on how Americans felt about slavery, most white people did not participate in the abolition movement. Even after the Supreme Court 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, only 18 percent of whites favored immediate integration, according to the National Opinion Research Center. A 1963 Gallup poll found that 78 percent of white people would leave their neighborhood if many Black families moved in. By 1966, 54 percent of white Americans said that they did not think civil rights demonstrations were justified, even if they “were in the same position as negroes.”
When Americans spilled into the streets during the summer 0f 2020 to protest the murder of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin, it was unlike anything we had seen before.
To be fair, blatant racism may not be the sole reason for white people’s inaction when it comes to equality. Many don’t even believe systemic racism exists in policing, criminal justice or financial institutions. In 2016, three out of every four white people believed police used the right amount of force in situations and treated different racial and ethnic groups equally.
But 2020 was different. After witnessing a state-sponsored murder from multiple angles in high definition and surround sound, a multiracial, multi-ethnic coalition of protesters took to the street to end the scourge of police violence. The New York Times noted that “many white Americans were showing up for the cause of justice for Black Americans.” High-profile celebrities and corporations who were previously silent about social justice began to use their voices, money and platforms for change. This rainbow coalition collectively promised that they would not rest until there was meaningful reform. They had seen what injustice looks like and now there was no turning back...
Until they turned their backs.
According to a Pew Research report released on Monday, while most Americans still support the Black Lives Matter Movement, white support has severely declined from an all-time high during the Woke White Summer of 2020. In June 2020, 45 percent of white people supported the Black Lives Matter movement. By September 2020, that number had reached 60 percent before it returned to 47 percent, where it has stayed for a year.
Although Pew insists there are currently “wide racial, ethnic and partisan gaps,” in the number of people who support BLM, there’s not. The majority of young people, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Americans from every educational background still support the movement. But after the smoke from rubber bullet launchers and gas bombs cleared, the corporations had done nothing. The woke white allies were lying all along.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled America.
There is a secret that all of your favorite Black pundits and even members of the Congressional Black Caucus know.
Black people are on their own.
Black America’s unwavering loyalty to the Democratic Party is as much a function of the conservative racism as it is a belief in the values and ideals of the Democratic Party’s platform. We might not express this apprehension publicly (because why would we give that ammunition to the opposition party?), but we know what white people are going to do. We remember how white abolitionists fought against slavery while stiff-arming full equality for Black Americans. We remember how they supported integration±but not where their kids attended school.
And when it comes to problems that face the Democratic Party’s most loyal base, we know the party is more than willing to compromise our rights for their power. In numerous conversations with The Root, high-level staffers and members of the Congressional Black Caucus have expressed frustration with the Democratic Party’s apathy or lack of urgency on police reform, voting rights and other political issues important to Black America.
No, Black people are not devoted to the Democratic Party; Black people are devoted to Black people (Candace, Kanye and Jason Whitlock excluded).
But the 2020 election was different.
When the Democratic Party campaigned and told Americans to roll into their polling places to vote in the 2020 election, it seemed as if they had finally gotten their shit together. After witnessing a decline in Black voter turnout in the 2018 election, the party finally decided to pay attention to Black voters. Candidates touted policies that addressed systemic inequality without cloaking them in the euphemism of “economic disparities.” They had an open discussion on school segregation, criminal justice, reparations and policing during the primary debates. Even white candidates actually said the words “white supremacy.”
To be fair, the Democratic Party’s white contingent had no choice. White Democrats wanted their country back, and by “their country,” they meant their seats in the halls of power. They had watched their fellow white Americans send addle-brained mediocre white nationalists to Congress, the Senate and the White House. The 2016 election and the 2018 midterms had shown what could happen if Black voters became apathetic.
So Black people worked their asses off to hand the White House and the Senate to the Democratic Party. Black voters in Georgia flipped the Senate by registering non-white voters in unprecedented numbers. Latino activists sparked a win in Arizona. Black voter turnout surged in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The only reason Donald Trump is not a second-term president is because of non-white voters. For all the disgust and despair over COVID, Russian interference, Ukraine, impeachment, immigration, ineptitude, and the erosion of democracy, white people still bounced to the ballot box and voted for Donald Trump. According to Pew’s Validated Voters Survey (the most accurate post-election poll), most white men and women voted for Donald Trump. Biden, however, won the vast majority of Hispanic, Asian and Black voters.
And all we got was a goddamned T-shirt.
Just like the Caucasian outrage over police violence, the promises lobbed at Black America during the 2020 election season have now dissipated into thin air. The attempts at passing voting rights protections have stalled. So has police reform. Immigration reform, too. While the GOP’s obstructionists agenda may be the reason for some of these failures, The Democratic Party must also bear some blame.
Take police reform, for instance. After reaching an impasse with Republicans, Senate Democrats recently conceded that the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is dead. However, congressional legislation is not the only way to achieve this goal.
What if I told you the Biden administration could reform the police without Congress?
As we explained here, most of the provisions in the proposed police reform bills would have been enforced through grants from the Department of Justice, which is part of the executive branch. The Attorney General could simply withhold funding by only certifying law enforcement agencies that banned chokeholds, outlawed no-knock warrants and implemented a police shooting database—some of the major provisions of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. No certification, no money. The Justice Department even has the authority to create a task force to investigate corruption, brutality and civil rights violations within police departments.
If this idea sounds radical, previous presidents have done this. One prior administration used the power of executive order to determine which state and local police departments were eligible for federal funds by setting standards for certification. A former attorney general actually created a DOJ task force to investigate “anti-government extremists” who “violently attacked police officers and other government officials, destroyed public and private property, and threatened innocent people.” To be fair, all of those previously mentioned reforms were enacted by one administration...
The one led by Donald J. Trump.
While there is no guarantee that the next administration would have kept these rules in place, isn’t it funny how the Democratic Party opted for a path to police reform that was more traditional and the least likely to succeed? Perhaps you’d change your mind if you knew that the Biden administration still hasn’t rescinded those pro-police executive orders.
After trying to pass a $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill, the party compromised by removing all the stuff that addressed the economic needs of Black America and putting it in a separate piece of legislation that might pass through reconciliation—but only after they get the other stuff done. After working at the center of the police reform bill, the demure Cory Booker revealed that he has no trust in the moderate wing of his own party or the reconciliation process.
Of course, reconciliation is a complex process that can only be determined by the Senate Parliamentarian, who interprets the rules of the Senate. It’s not like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) can just fire or overrule the Parliamentarian.
Except he can. It wouldn’t even be an unprecedented move. The GOP actually fired parliamentarian Robert B. Dove in 2001 for the exact same reason—Republicans wanted to overcome a filibuster by passing a bill with a simple majority vote. Lest you think that decision wasn’t as controversial, that budget reconciliation is what gave us the wealth-building tool called the “Bush tax cuts.”
The Democratic Party would have the most loyal part of their base believe that their hands have been tied by their Republican counterparts. However, the truth is that the Democratic Party is not as willing to fight for Black voters in the same way that the GOP will stand on the edge of hell for its white constituents.
When the Republican Party wanted to seat a thong-hating handmaid on the Supreme Court, Mitch McConnell eliminated the filibuster and found a way to strongarm moderates like Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins into compliance. Joe Biden, however, can’t do anything about expanding the Supreme Court. The GOP won’t even acknowledge that we correctly counted votes in the 2020 election but the Democratic Party’s solution to voter suppression is to let the most conservative member of the Senate (Joe Manchin) and the party’s Karen-in-chief (Kyrsten Sinema) dictate the future of Black people’s voting rights.
There are some who would say that anyone who condemns the Democratic Party’s approach to governing is inadvertently aiding the opposition. But the Democratic Party is simply the political tool that Black America uses as protection against the party of white nationalism. And what good is a tool if it doesn’t work when you need it?
Just as activists aren’t suggesting that there is zero need for some form of law enforcement, no one who criticizes the Democratic Party is suggesting that Black Americans should switch parties or stop engaging in the political process.
Here’s an idea: What if, instead of denying the disparity in the way Black people are treated, what if we stopped listening to white people and reformed policing?