“You Ain’t Black”: the Reflexive Racism of Progressive Politics

Have you seen the meme putting MAGA hats on historic photographs of white men harassing black men sitting at segregated lunch counters? I provide an example below. With such memes, progressives smear tens of millions of white Americans who are not racist. Moreover, they disappear black Trump supporters, who number in the millions.

First, members of my family and a great many of my white friends are Trump supporters who move in fully racially-integrated occupational and social circles. They work and eat around black people. Their sons and daughters marry black people. They foster care for and adopt black children. They would never harass a black man eating at a lunch counter. They would share a cup of coffee with him. Or a beer. If they ever saw a black man being harassed, they would intervene. (See video below for an enlightened discussion on civil rights.)

Second, analyzing exit polling data from the 2016 presidential election, 13 percent of black Americans voted for Donald Trump. Racially disaggregating voter turnout from that election finds that the number of blacks who voted for Trump north of two million. And Trump looks to gain more black votes in 2020. Why? Historically low black unemployment, fastest wage gains among blacks in history, criminal justice reform, and immigration restrictions. Trump’s frank talk about the failure of progressives to properly govern black-majority neighborhoods probably has a lot to do with it, as well.

A lot of white progressives dismiss the black vote for Trump by chalking it up to false consciousness. Blacks can’t judge such matters for themselves really. Distrust of the people is deeply rooted in the technocratic attitude of progressive elites. The progressive has been known to call black conservatives “Uncle Toms.” Progressives reflect their candidate’s attitude in this regard. Remember when Biden said, “I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black”? Yeah. He said that. He meant it, too. Progressives don’t even trust black people with navigating the voter verification process.

Joe Biden Apologizes For The "You Ain't Black' Quip with Charlamagne Tha God
Democratic party presidential candidate Joe Biden tells Charlamange on The Breakfast Club that black people who do not vote for him are not really black.

This condescending attitude reflects the progressive worldview generally. Let’s put the left’s constant infantilization of blacks and other groups to one side. Identitarian politics for progressives isn’t so much about race or sex or sexual orientation as it is about partisan loyalties. Progressives want to see the first female president, but not if she is conservative; the identity of conservative women is suspect. They celebrate a Ruth Bader Ginsburg, hailing her as a model for girls and young women, but an Amy Coney Barrett is a traitor.

One’s racial identity is suspect if one vote for Trump. Except if he is white. Then he’s acting on the reflexive white supremacy that the good white man recognizes in himself. To be fully black, woman, or gay, one has to subscribe to progressive doctrine and support the Democratic Party. Skin color comes with a politics. If you don’t see that, then you’re deluded or stupid.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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