Six Takeaways From the First “Presidential” Debate

On the surface, last night’s debate was an embarrassment, and for those vested in the white nationalist ideology that permeates America, a deviation from “American” or “presidential” expectation. To students of history, last night illuminated white interiority and illustrated that “president” continues to constitute a derogatory term. This interiority exposed both candidates as anti-black and betrayed both “options” as yielding no positive changes of people of African descent. The debate illustrates two important points; though the pandemic continues to spread and kill Americans, the biggest issue facing the black community is white supremacy, and both Donald Trump and Joe Biden are white supremacists. While this post will mostly discuss the debate, the points that follow mark general frustrations engendered by the contemporary moment.

I. Stand down, Standby

I will not join in on the chorus of shock in response the Trump confirming his status as a white nationalist in chief. I will say that his words, while encouraging white supremacy, contains a significant admonishment for those of African descent. Particularly, his words inform the black collective that the rain that’s among is is just a warm-up for the storm that’s coming.

II. Joe Biden could not say “Black Lives Matter”

Though many pundits and social media critics noted Donald Trump’s question evasion (which has become idiosyncratic to his presidency), Biden made notable omissions in his responses imperative for anyone of African descent to take note. Two moments come to mind, the first being when the moderator asked him specifically about Black Lives Matter. In his response, Biden went on the defense, and though saying the names of two victims slain by police, he remained conspicuously espoused to the police as a generally good and necessary force. This statement, given the plethora of black blood drawn by the police, overtly counters black livelihood in America. Biden also noticeably would not, or could not, state that black lives matter. Rather, his wordings underscored that “blue” lives matter most.

III. Joe Biden mentioned “protest violence” in the same sentence that he referenced blacks murdered by police

The second notable evasion Biden made was mentioning protest violence in the same sentence as Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Alongside the Black Lives Matter omission, Biden’s words reveal that he is essentially speaking to the same audience as Trump. Thus, while Trump overtly spoke to conspicuous white supremacist groups, Biden’s debate performance shows that he wraps his white hood in kente cloth as a methodology to acquire the black vote.

IV. Trump’s bully tactics: White Supremacist provocation

Trump’s behavior yesterday evening, which ranged from insulting ad-libs to talking over everyone and against anything he interpreted as a personal attack, illuminates the essence of the white ego. The white ego, rooted in white supremacy and fueled by white nationalism, yields a prodigious effect despite espousing itself to the smallest of people.

While watching Trump yesterday evening, I also thought of the officer that baited, provoked, and teased Sandra Bland house before her murder. He, like Trump, employed white supremacist provocation to incite a reaction that obscures its origin. Simply put, Biden’s “Will you shut up man” was not an off-the-cuff remark; rather, these words represent an anticipated outcome of white supremacist strategy. Though entertaining to many people, this line illuminates the level of control white supremacists seek to engender while working to centralize themselves physically and mentally into their opponents and the oppressed.

V. 14, 000 not 200,000 deaths

Another cringe-worthy moment from the debate was the moment where Biden and Trump debated over the numbers of the dead corresponding to the pandemics that plagued their terms. Biden compared the 14,000 deaths from the swine flu to the 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus, and while there is a significant difference in number, the casual element to the exchange betrayed a disregard for human life. I guess for me, its hard to believe that we, as a collective, are free if the white collective, whether physically in power or the invisible element in every room, continue to bear the power to determine life or death.

VI. Things are getting worse

I’ll be honest with you. I found the response to the debate far more troubling than the debate itself. The most disturbing response to the revelation that occurred last night was/is the misconceptualization that “things are getting worse.”

This statement implicitly speaks to a desire for racism and crass behavior exhibited by the majority to be America’s unseen truth. Perhaps more significantly, this is essentially a statement that betrays the sentiments and anxieties of the majority.

Things are getting worse for those of the majority who now have a president who deviates from the widespread beliefs of white superiority. Beliefs that are not just the crux of white self-esteem but the foundation for the national myth of meritocracy. Things are getting worse for a white world so afraid of being genetically obliterated that they are willing to infringe on a white woman’s right to choose.

For black people, each day presents a new stage for the social reproduction of the anti-intellectualism that brought us here. Things are not getting worse, in fact, with the overt unraveling and inevitable implosion of white supremacy, we, as a collective have a unique chance to reclaim what’s ours.

If the debate last night taught me anything, its that “president” remains a race for the face of white supremacy. Moreover, the best thing about the debate last night is that it showcased an argument between two white men. Despite the color of those conveying the discourse, this dynamic encapsulates most dialogues that continue to permeate America. Encased in the carefully constructed question evasion that inundated the evening, they, the white supremacists will hang themselves, we just have to be sure that throughout it all, we, the black collective, are still standing.

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