After a long night of anxiety over vote tabulations in Florida and slow vital Midwestern swing states, Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden seems increasingly poised to win the electoral college. He’s also handily winning the popular vote, comfortably surpassing President Obama’s 2008 numbers for the highest number of votes ever cast for a presidential candidate. This should all be reassuring news in light of disappointing Democratic Senate and House races. Instead, the results have sent pundits into a tizzy, already performing an autopsy on the Democratic Party and Joe Biden’s failings.
Regardless of what the final count shows, this election was clearly not the rejection of Trumpism that many on the left and center hoped it would be. There are some bright spots: Biden is on his way to flipping Arizona and his support in Atlanta and its suburbs have turned red Georgia into a tossup state. But in the midst of a pandemic that has left more than 230,000 Americans dead thanks to Trump’s irresponsible leadership, voters continue to embrace the president and the jingoism that propels his ideology. Even if Biden wins the presidency, large swaths of the country readily support the ruthless right-wing ideology and Trumpian bluster that defined the Trump years.
But there’s one demographic that has largely managed to resist the temptations of Trumpism: Black Americans, namely Black women.
Yes, Trump did make some inroads with Black voters in 2020, increasing his share of support among especially among Black men. This is concerning, almost as much as Trump’s tendency to pose with Black celebrities like they’re prize-winning fish. But compared to Trump’s impressive gains with Latinx voters and his steady grip on white Americans—including white women, who, exit polls suggest, didn’t move away from Trump in nearly the numbers that white men did—Black people have remained largely immune to the vision of America Trump has proposed.
According to exit polling, 91 percent of Black women voted for Biden and eight percent for Trump. Among Black men, 80 percent voted for Biden and 18 percent voted for Trump. And among young Black voters, 88 percent voted for Biden while nine percent voted for Trump.
Once again, Black women are relegated to the role of America’s moral arbiters, dedicated to making sure Trump’s America does not continue to prosper. Following the 2016 election results, well-meaning but endlessly irritating white liberals used Black women voting patterns to foist a savior-like image upon them. “Black women will save us!” they screamed and gleefully hashtagged, with some Black women also joining in on this characterization as the nation’s guardian angels. But this is corny at best and dehumanizing at worst.
Most Black women do not have the luxury to marvel at the nation’s abject evils, of its insidious racism, inexorable sexism, and suffocating classism. Black women do not vote with petrified white women who would rather be at brunch in mind. Black women are not a monolith, but we tend to vote Democrat because it’s usually the least shit option, even when the party’s politicians work against our best interests. Our vote is one little morsel of harm reduction while we busy ourselves organizing or simply living day to day in a nation—a world—fueled by misogynoir. We’re often disillusioned, hurt, and dismayed, but we do it because the alternative is worse and our communities cannot afford worse.
Our tactical electoral strategies are just that: tactical. They are not inspiring acts of bravery, they’re perfunctory acts of survival in response to a country we do not trust. The idea of regarding Biden’s win whether large or narrow as a repudiation of America’s most base instincts—boldfaced individualism and a cruelty that white masculinity has wrought—is laughable. These ills existed long before the Trump years. The only difference is that the cult of Trump has managed to encourage the most appalling sentiments to be expressed loudly, boldly, freely.
This is not new. This is America in its ugly glory, and it’s as American as cherry pie.