It is Saturday, November 7, 2020, and my social media is filled with posts of jubilation at the projected win of Joseph “Joe” Biden as the 46th president of the United States.
But I don’t feel much joy. I feel a great deal of pride to see an accomplished Black Woman rise to be Vice President of the United States of America considering that Black Women clearly delivered this victory to Joe Biden. But frankly, if things were really fair and equal, it is Kamala Harris who would be elected President today.
I actually feel a sense of sadness. Why? Because so many people, specifically Black people, think something is different about America today, but nothing has in fact changed. Even though Joe Biden has apparently won the election it was extremely close. Razor-thin margins. In most of the states where he pulled it out, he did it by a few thousand votes. Under 50,000 votes in most cases. What does that tell you about the soul of America? What does it tell you about the majority of White Americans who are still 80% of our population?
More than 50% of white Americans voted for Donald Trump an open virulent racist and liar from his first day in the presidency until his last. 70 million people voted for him. Let that sink in – 70 million people.
Exit polls reflect that Donald Trump received over 5 million votes more in the 2020 election than he did in 2016 and made significant inroads into minority populations. Some may claim that this is due to overall higher voter turnout. But I think it’s due to something else. There’s something dark at the heart of America. And that thing is white supremacy. It is a cancer eating away the soul of the nation. And America refuses to address it in any real substantive way. And I have no indication that Biden will do more to address it than Barak Obama did. This issue is bigger than who occupies the White House.
America also refuses to address its gun problem. When you marry white supremacy and unfettered access to guns in a society what you have is a bomb that will continue to explode over and over in multiple ways. And right now we have a great deal of angry white racists with guns who believe that this election was stolen from Donald Trump. Rational people know this is not true but we are not talking about rational people. There is nothing rational about the hateful, racist that Donald Trump unleashed out of their dark holes into the light of day. And just because he has to go away doesn’t mean they will. My fear is that the next Donald Trump will come in a much shiner and nicer package. The dark elements in America never go away, they just evolve and repackage their racism to make it seem less threatening.
America’s economic inequality is also staggering. COVID-19 has exposed how wide that chasm is and how much we need essential workers and how little we value them. A disproportionate number of our essential workers are black and brown people. We need them to pick our vegetables, process our meat, clean our homes, cut our lawns, stock our grocery stores and drive us around in Uber. But so many were and are willing to sacrifice their health and well-being to “re-open the economy” prematurely. We don’t pay them a fair and living wage and we are now promoting the idea of a “gig economy“ which no one can retire on, no one can live on and no one can earn a decent salary working just on one “gig” job. America is a gilded cage.
America is a consumer society that requires the constant acquisition of things often putting its citizens in deeper and deeper debt. America’s economy runs on debt among many other things. Americans work longer hours than any other “civilized“ first world society. They take fewer vacations. So, while Americans have the corner on the acquisition of “things” what we lack is the acquisition of peace and happiness. America encourages and almost requires constant pursuit and acquisition of more. More dresses, more shoes, more cars, More. In the beginning, we don’t even understand why we want the things we want but it’s because we’re constantly bombarded on the television radio and now social media about the latest smartphone or gadget or designer this or that. And it’s necessary for capitalism to work. Endless Consumption is necessary.
In America you are taught, especially as a person of color, that you get an education, usually by putting yourself in debt, start a business, or usually work for someone else for the best years of your life and then in the last years of your life you may be able to stop working. If you’re lucky maybe you can then travel and actually see somethings or some other places before you drop dead.
So, you stick yourself on the American hamster wheel and you run as fast as you can for as long as you can. Most die before they can get off. At retirement most just transition to a part-time job and or a gig job, because they have no pension or retirement plan or they, must supplement their pension or retirement plan and the cost of living is so high that they must work until they die. Most Americans don’t even have a passport and have never been anywhere. America is a gilded cage.
This brings me back to the violence of America which is a cornerstone like White supremacy. There are more guns in America than there are people. The next big mass shooting is right around the corner. Who the victims will be is an open guess but it’s coming. The white terrorist militias have been mobilized by Trump and the Republican Party and now many of them are aggrieved because their candidate lost. That’s a recipe for violence sooner or later.
Police will continue to murder Black people at will. I just read an article where a white female Democratic politician is pushing back on talking about defunding the police claiming that Democrats can’t win elections with that message – despite the fact that they just won the Presidency, retained the majority in the House, and are very close to taking the Senate. But yet white American Democrats want to push the party to the center while Republicans push the country to the right. White Democratic politicians are already set to abandon those who got them collectively elected to continue to pander to the White Americans who have rejected them over and over again for racists principles and economic principles that only advantage the richest among us. Something is fundamentally broken in American politics and Joe Biden’s apparent victory won’t change it.
The fundamentals of America will not change. And for that reason, my decision to leave is unchanged. I will begin my Blaxit transition this summer.
I will just be able to do it with a little less immediate anxiety And a little bit more leeway for planning. But my decision to go is rooted in the same things it always has been. For me it was never about Donald Trump. But it is about what Donald Trump has exposed about America that was always there. It is also about my desire to get off the hamster wheel and out of the cage. It’s a beautiful cage filled with pretty things but I don’t need any of those things. What I need is freedom peace and joy. And I have come to the conclusion that I can more easily have that outside of America.
I love America or at least I love the idea of what it claims to be. But I know those claims are untrue. And I know as a black person I will never feel fully safe in America. Every four years my right to be an equal and a full human in this country will be on the ballot and my hard-fought rights can be taken away based on an election or a Supreme Court’s right-wing decision at any time. It’s exhausting and I just can’t do it anymore. I am leaving my happiness demands it.
America is a gilded cage but I’m setting myself free.