I was at meeting this week where black people outnumbered white people — seven to four. It was the first time I'd seen everyone since the election. We began with a check-in, and a black woman said she wasn't exactly surprised that Trump was elected. She was surprised though at how surprised her white colleagues are. (Readers might remember that I wrote a recent blog here about being "gobsmacked" by the election results.) Another black woman chimed in, saying everybody white she works with were all hugging and looking so sad. Somebody else said, "Yes, they all want group hugs." We laughed.
It was a pretty funny moment. The future is scary. It is riskier for blacks than it is for me because there's likely to be less support for civil rights on every level, not to mention health care, education, jobs and housing. But in my meeting they thought we whites were hilarious for only just now figuring out how racist this country really is. It's grim, but they see Trump's election as validating their knowledge of racism. And they were laughing at our white fragility in the face of that racism.
I read Daniel Kempton's NCR essay, "A deplorable explains his vote" carefully a couple of days ago, and I appreciate his desire for higher wages and how deeply felt his opposition to abortion is (though I wonder if he's aware that abortion rates drop significantly with good health care, and that it's Republicans who oppose a minimum living wage), but I think he's blind to racism. That was the point of my black colleagues. Their loud cries for justice have been denied again. Why are their white allies so surprised?