I’ve always considered myself a soft Liberal. But the last few months have really brought out my conservative side, and I’m not the only one. I’ve recently spoken to several working class people who were told they were being laid off just before getting an email saying the company was looking to “diversify its staff,” and their responses were all the same: “F**k this, I’m voting for Trump.”
One of my issues with social activism has always been that it centers around an idea and doesn’t take basic human psychology into account. I understand that racism in America exists and should be eradicated. I understand and agree with the fact that there should be more people of color in white collar positions. I also understand that white, working-class people have families to feed and bills to pay, and that the only natural response to being fired and replaced by a person of color is to vote for Trump as a means of revenge.
I’m ashamed to say I’ve had to fight off the same thoughts in the last few weeks. I’m white and well-educated, so, by Liberal standards, I’m automatically privileged. But I don’t have family money to fall back on, and need and want to work. I used to get a decent amount of assignments and opportunities from a Facebook group for female writers, but, lately, every post says “BIPOC writers only.” Theoretically, I’m all for it. If I were lounging around daddy’s pool posting socially aware updates all day, I’d be even more for it. But I’m not and I also need to eat.
Russian-American immigrants have been more pissed off than I’ve ever seen them lately, and I understand why. In addition to all of the usual issues, they have to deal with feeling like they’re black and white at the same time.To be light-skinned means getting fired or otherwise attacked for not being a person of color. But to have an accent and need to work to make a living makes you a minority. Social media makes it seem like everyone is either a ‘Karen’ or ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ but there’s a lot of in between, and those are the people who are being forgotten. And they’re the ones who vote.
When I tell my social justice friends that there are a lot of working class white people who feel marginalized right now, their response is always the same: “Well, that’s how black people have felt for a long time.” I totally get that and I agree. But there’s a difference between justice and revenge. And it’s also an election year. The Black Lives Matter movement is important, but it’s so poorly timed that, were I a conspiracy theorist, I would say that the Republicans were behind it all along.
So this is my message to all of my social justice friends: I know you mean well, but be smart about this. None of us wants Trump to get re-elected. We’re already stuck with Acceptable Under the Circumstances Joe Biden because of all of the in-fighting between Elizabeth Warren supporters and Bernie Sanders aficionados.
You have to understand that being antagonistic is just going to make the Other Side feel defensive and lash out. This is, once again, basic human psychology, and it will not get you the results you want, and then you’re just going to whine and moan about it as usual.
I saw a viral Simpsons clip recently that summed things up nicely. An elephant runs through the Republican National Convention, which has banners saying “We want what’s worst for everyone” and “We’re just plain evil.” Then it runs through a Democratic National Convention, which has banners saying “We can’t govern” and “We hate life and ourselves.” I get that you feel guilty for being white and wealthy and having a lot when others have so little. Recognize that, own it, and stop being so self-righteous about it.
Recognize that posting hateful comments on the walls of people whose opinions differ from yours is cyber-bullying, which you are purportedly against. Recognize that hating on people who are having anxiety attacks over wearing masks and the general situation means bullying people with mental health issues, which you are also purportedly against. And recognize that if you are going to make large swaths of people feel attacked by Democrats, you are pushing them right intoTrump’s stiff, unstable embrace.
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