I have been trying to sift through some potentially conflicting thoughts on this topic of whether and how we start/keep talking to people who voted for Trump. The question that keeps getting me stuck is how one acknowledges a person’s pain and concerns and frustration without endorsing or accepting the results and consequences (intentional or otherwise) of their expression of that frustration.
A friend of mine posted a Micheal Moore video from a few days before the election where Moore is going on about how pissed off disaffected white voters are at The System that has screwed them, and how they are about to deliver the biggest Fuck you! in history. I have thought for a while (and continue to believe) that Moore is, first and foremost, a self-promoting huckster, but he’s got a point here:
The problem I am having, though, is the way in which this White People Problem is being treated as an unprecedented crisis that must be dealt with now, while white people have systematically ignored or responded with organized mass violence to the same complaints from any number of marginalized groups for basically the entire history of this country. We tie ourselves in knots about how we address these concerns (because this group of people just blew up the election), while a bunch of black people wonder where the hell we are when they need help.
Don’t get me wrong… there is a very real, practical problem here. Disaffected white people just put an autocratic demagogue into the White House. Ignoring them is not an option, but neither is deprioritizing and continuing to ignore all the people for whom being let down by “the system” is not a new thing.