"Today we celebrate, congratulate, and appreciate. Tomorrow, we must fight — not against division, but white supremacy; not against patriotism, but fascism; not against difference, but dominance. We can never make peace with any of Trumpism. Nor abandon those most harmed by it.
Healing requires disinfecting the wound, not ignoring it. And holding those accountable for inflicting it. This emerging ‘let bygones be bygones’ is why Black folks who saved the United States the first time it broke lived in hell for a century after. It can't happen again."
- Kimberlé Crenshaw, on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris's victory
Over the course of the past four years, the progressive possibilities of American politics gave way to the desperate struggle against a full-throated patriarchal white nationalism. And in the face of Trumpism’s cloistering of the American promise, the electorate mobilized around the idea that the Trumpian attack on democracy — and the marshaling of white supremacy to do so — was the greatest existential threat to this nation since the Civil War.
Trumpism’s racialized attack on democracy rehearses the most sinister forces of a not-so-bygone era. And lost in much of the post-election hullabaloo is the fact that while Trump’s racialized attack grew from a sordid but vivid history, the Democratic failure to adequately refute his assault mimics the same failures that have made the possibility of justice in this country so elusive.
Donald Trump was a historically popular and effective Republican candidate not in spite of his white supremacist tactics. Instead, he received 71 million votes (and counting) precisely because he so effectively mined this nation’s history — a history steeped in genocide, slavery, apartheid, and patriarchy. As many Americans begin to treat his administration as a horrifying aberration, we must mobilize with a recognition that Donald Trump was no outlier; he was the logical extension of a vicious social history.
It is no small accomplishment to defeat an incumbent President, especially when that President so effectively galvanized his party. The Biden-Harris ticket’s accomplishment is remarkable, and it was built from the ground up — from on-the-ground organizers who, despite little recognition, delivered this election to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
And as we understand this historic moment, we must also understand the barriers that were broken this evening. Kamala Harris not only becomes the highest-ranking woman in the history of the United States, she is also the first Black person, the first Indian American, and the first graduate of a Historically Black College and University to serve as Vice President.
Today we celebrate, but the project of justice is no less important when the reason for hope is clearer. When the fear of a departure from freedom of expression and organization was so near, we skirted the brink. But we can’t get that close again. Now, we must reinvent our politics in such a way that makes impossible the nearness of fascism’s reign.
Our response to Trumpism has to be intersectional, and it has to acknowledge, understand, and organize around combating generations of patriarchal white supremacy. To not do so — to take up an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality — would be to concede an ideological defeat, even within an electoral victory.
Fittingly, Joe Biden remarked this evening that, “The African American community stood up for me. They always have my back, and I’ll have [theirs].” We must hold him to that promise. We must hold all of our elected officials to that high standard. And we must move forward intersectionally, and with an eye towards our past.
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