White supremacy is a word that has gained significant traction in recent years. A decade ago, the term white supremacy still qualified as radical speech. White supremacy as a colloquialism marks a new wave of influence. In its nuance, white supremacy remains pervasive but appears mollified in its casual articulation. The Trump presidency proved significant in the term’s superficial transition, betraying a continental issue with overt white supremacy, not its systemic sins. White supremacists perhaps best illustrate this selective conflict, as they often employ the term to distance themselves from the Commander-in-chief.
Upon watching the debate last night, I could not think of a better portrait of white supremacy than the pervasive white skin on the debate stage. There is perhaps no greater portrait of white supremacy than the large amount of elderly white people currently competing to represent a party that needs the black vote to win. Even Andrew Yang, the token minority, blended in with the permeating pigment.
Despite the black vote being an absolute necessity to the Democratic Party, Cory Booker, the sole black candidate remained on the sidelines, unable to meet the white supremacists standards to compete for his chance to lead a country that simply would not exist without his ancestral contribution. Additionally, the debate only allotted less than five minutes to discussing anything prevalent to the black community. “Climate change,” “economy,” and “immigration,” function to veil race. Though anti-black agents will reference these issues as “disproportionately affect black people,” these topics merely function as yet another way to say “all lives matter.”
Yet, quoting black people, Dr. King and Stacey Abrams to be specific, proved a consistent occurrence during the debate. To quote the notably absent is to speak into an empty room, the echo awakening the other senses to what only the eyes can see.
The debate stage conveyed what we as black people experience far too often. As black people, we are too often spoken of, but seldom afforded a proper platform to speak or advocate for ourselves without attack or fatality. The black collective is too often encouraged to choose between what many deem “the lesser of two evils,” which is often those who afford our communities a slow death, or who simply refuse to offer our communities anything that does not benefit whites, or non-blacks, first and foremost. However, this defeatist scenario will always accompany blacks seeking a seat at the table, or podium at a debate.
Furthermore, the dearth at the final presidential debate of 2019, highlighted Kamala Harris’s absence and ejection from the 2020 presidential race.
I have meditated on Kamala’s ejection from the presidential race for the last few weeks. The announcement came after her staffer left the campaign and joined former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign.
I will be honest, and say that I was never a huge fan of Kamala Harris. For clarity, I am not a fan now either. Her professional and personal espousal to white hegemony betrays an interest counterproductive to extinguishing anti-blackness. It also did not escape me that America has a preference for black folks adjacent to American slavery. Thus, though Kamala is a black woman, and my Howard sister, she pushes an agenda that is easily anti-black. Nevertheless, while favorable to America who cherry picks its black symbols, Harris also proved too “black” for an always anti-black election.
With this said, her ejection from the 2020 election race in the wake of Michael Bloomberg’s entry exposed the wrath of white supremacy in an all-too-familiar form.
To see a black woman on her way out as a white male billionaire makes his way in, mirrors the American way. How many times have we seen black families exit a neighborhood as a white family moves in? How many times have we seen our families and friends have to drop out of school, or get fired from jobs, as white people ease their way into these now-vacant spots?
So, as I looked at the stage last night, I though about about the tweets and commentary that celebrated Kamala Harris ’s exit, and I am still wondering, how exactly is her exit a victory? Harris’s treatment during the campaign, from being violently misquoted, to being run out the race by a RACIST, embodies what we ALL experience as black people in America. To jeer Kamala is to cheer the want evidenced in last night’s debate. To cheer for Kamala’s exit is to buy into the anti-black thought that engenders blacka to refute the presupposed face of oppression, but submit to its intangible essence. In laymens terms, the white media hoped that the black collective would take issue with a black candidate and reach for the great white hope. The media hoped that the black collective would ax Kamala and vote for Bloomberg, under the belief that it takes a white man to beat a white man.
Harris and Booker are not ideal candidates by any means, however, their role in the election exposed issues less obvious with all white candidates. We are a capitalistic country and the presidential candidacy, and electoral college, remain capitalistic processes. Yes, this capital is based on economy, but let us as a people not ignore that WE (black people) remain commodified by this process.
Democrats need the black vote to essentially oppress black people; so, we have the power. This power is not best wielded in celebrating blacks run out of race that remains overwhemingly white in ideology and person. Harris’s brutal ejection for a space and place eagerly assumed by a white supremacist, illuminates the very white supremacy that everyone is so quick to say these days, but so few wish, or will work, to dissipate.
One need not be a fan of Kamala Harris to heed the admonishment that her experience provides for us as a constituency. Taken together, if this actualized dearth on the debate stage, and Kamala Harris’s ejection does not symbolize that America, specifically the government, simply does not work for black people, I do not know what will.
Harris’s candidacy, like Barack Obama’s presidency, exposes that it is not enough for black people to live in a world where they can run or vote for president. It is this same logic that propogates saying “white supremacy” as commonly as you would a salutation as symbolizing a nation on the mend. To run for president,as a person of African descent, is to run into the flames of white supremacy. As all previous examples have proven, whether “successful” or eliminated, the black candidate never leaves unscathed. To vote in these elections is to douse these flames with gaseline. The black collective remains forced to abstain or vote for those who will abstain from doing anything to alter the situation for African descended people in America.
Progress, like freedom, lies beyond the smoke and the flames; progress, like the residue from a fire, is painted in black…