Being on a night shift schedule, it wasn’t difficult for me to stay up on election night awaiting the results. That is, until I realized Donald Trump had actually pulled off what had previously seemed like an elaborate publicity stunt. In those first few moments I was stunned. I made remarks about which I would be embarrassed had they been heard in public. Admittedly, the next day was hard. I slept most of the day, moped a lot, had an emotional outburst, and quizzed my husband on all the reasons he could give for why everything isn’t going to descend into total chaos. Day two, I got up, put on my big girl breeches (as much as one can when they are only 4’9”), and decided to go on about the business of living my life. We are probably going to be okay.
Here’s where I do get concerned. Protesters have flooded the streets. Women are crying all over Youtube. Angry mobs take to Twiter, ready to hurl insults and blame (I have plenty of opinions on that topic but I will leave these for another day). The most common recipient of this blame? White people. Christopher Keelty, in his HuffPost piece claims that white people, and white people only, are responsible for President Elect Donald Trump. He then goes on to chastise whites for trying to show their non-white neighbors that they sympathize with their concerns as minorities in a Donald Trump world. He asserts that whites only want to relieve their guilt, the guilt that of course all white people should feel because apparently zero people of color voted Trump…except the numbers say otherwise.
Blaming all white people and trying to elicit guilt isn’t just a method of further dividing an already divided nation – its intellectually lazy. There is a reason 60 million Americans voted for Trump and “white people be white” probably isn’t the full story. The reality of this election, like all of life, is more complex. Those who are more educated were more likely to vote for Clinton. Those who live in a union household were more likely to vote for Clinton. Protestants were more likely to vote for Trump. Jews more often went with Clinton. Those who identified as non-religious more often went with Clinton. Those who never attend religious services voted more often for Clinton. More than half of veterans chose Trump, while less than half of non-veterans did so. Clinton supports were more concerned about the economy and foreign affairs; Trump supporters worry about immigration and terrorism. All this to say, the shade of a person’s skin color certainly wasn’t the only factor in their decision making.
Of those who voted for Trump, 29% were Latino and 8% were Black. The exact numbers won’t be ready until next year, but we can look at the numbers from 2012. We know that 11.2 million Latinos showed up to choose between Mitt Romney and Obama. It’s believed that more voted this year. It’s probably safe to say that about 3 million Latinos voted for Donald Trump. The number of Black voters in 2012 was 17.8 million. While the total turnout for Blacks may be higher than Latinos, their support was lower, putting their number around 1.4 million (again, using last years total turnout). We also know that even Muslim women of color voted for Trump. I realize these are not huge numbers but they are far from zero and quite a distance from “we can blame this solely on white people.
While Trump did find a rather accepting audience in white people, they are not his only support and they have a wide range of reasons they chose him as our next President. If we want to know why they did so, and how we can avoid similar results in the future, we need to be prepared for difficult but meaningful conversations. I’m struggling here too but I’m trying to understand because I know it’s important. I know that for some reason, people overlooked Trump’s negative traits because they were concerned about something else they felt was more relevant. Perhaps I need to take their concerns seriously? Could it actually just be that a large percentage of Americans truly are deplorable? No. We need to be willing to listen, to try to understand, and to compromise – this is how we’re get through the next four years.
*I am no election expert ; if I have made a factual error, please let me know.