The road has been fucking long since the last presidential race of 2016. Perspective Democratic candidates have come out of the woodwork to vie for top pick in 2020.
This is going to be a long road with sound bites, hot takes, and candidates trying to demonstrate how relatable and cool they are. I decided to write this post to talk specifically to white allies.
These last few years have been a growing and unlearning season for some of y’all. And you’re maybe even patting yourself on the back for how far you’ve come and how much you’ve grown. I’m here to say that white supremacy and patriarchy are potent.
And, let’s be honest, y’all been drinking from this kool-aid for a long time. I’m already seeing the subtle turns in the conversation and the denigration toward people, especially people of color, who have tangible criticisms of presidential candidates. This is popping up, yet again, in dismissing and shouting down people of color, tone policing, and sealioning. It is not our place to do the work for you. And, in one fell swoop, you can undo all the goodwill you’ve spent time cultivating.
A couple of things:
Women (white and of color) tend to get criticized more harshly by comparison to men (specifically white and of color). Ask yourself if your level of criticism and skepticism is being applied with the same intensity to all potential candidates. The propensity to go white and male is still strong without critically analyzing their position and why people (specifically people of color) are not checking for the same candidate. And, recognize when candidates, as the competition gets stiff, start employing dog-whistle politics.
Maya Angelou once said “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” I reference this particular quote to say to you, white allies, to compare what potential candidates say to their track record. Compare what they don’t say (or refuse to acknowledge) against their track record. This is the kind of labor people of color have been doing for years, determining which candidate is the best or, at the very least, are likely to do the least harm to their community.
To do the work of selecting a candidate will mean listening, practicing mindfulness to know when you are taking up too much space, in real life or in the digital world, doing your research, checking and re-checking your privilege at the door.
Above all, these are people vying for the top pick to go up against 45. Now is the time to nitpick and eliminate the poorer choices.