So after Biden announced his VP pick, a divide happened. Everyone started to critique the political record of Harris and the reason she may have been selected. Some African-Americans were joyous about her being the first African American VP pick. Some were not because they had questions about her record as a DA, AG, and Senator. And the questions and concerns are valid because there is lots there to mine and consider. Many questioned and wished for Abrams. And could not help but notice the presence of Colorism in the conversation. And African-Americans have the right to question and disagree. You know why? Because contrary to what everyone believes, Black people are NOT A MONOLITH! We do not think and breathe the same on every issue, problem, politician, or situation.
But something that Black women do is VOTE...in...every...election...in...high...numbers. So if you are reading a critique or a compliment written by a Black woman about Harris or former President Obama or any Black or white politician, WE have earned the right to be critical and complimentary because we always show up, show out, and sometimes even save America from itself.
And white people, are also asking questions but they try and keep it among themselves on social media or even worse get brave enough to tell a Black person that they should not critique another Black person. Yeah, that happened to me and I quickly said Fuck it, in the only way I know how. Byeee and block!
Once again, let me elucidate on why being critical is not a terrible practice. And why folks need to stop silencing people with, "Well the most important thing is to get rid of the evil that is in the White House and then we can blah blah blah." The problem with that either/or thinking is that it makes the flawed observation, that "evil" was ushered in with Trump and it will be eradicated if he loses. We were already living in the constant hail shower of racism and white supremacy since....wait for it...EVER! It did not start with Trump, it simply became more overt and forced many out of a false post-racial slumber. Even some famous Black people listed a list of items that Harris never did, but Trump is infamous for. Things like rip families apart at the border and doing other racist shit.. It is a wonderful meme if the people reading it are already aware that EVERY President we have ever had in the United States has done horrible and racist shit. And many of the same who did those horrible things to Black and Brown people also did wonderful and helpful things too. The Affordable Health Care Act...good. No Child Left Behind...bad. Race to the Top...bad. War in Iraq...questionable. The nuclear arms race...bad. Eliminating checks and balances for Wall Street,,,bad. The Marriage Equality Act...good. Because that is the textbook definition of being a politician. The reason is because most Americans cannot hear a person when they speak of radical change. Shit, they can barely hear you when you speak of gradual change. And remember the election of 2016 was a close one, which means that Trump's ideals and practices and opinions have lots of supporters...still.
So what do we do? So what can we do? We can start by being open to the criticism and debate. We can practice listening to other sides. We can also remember and listen to the words of James Baldwin, "I love America more than any other country in the world, and exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually."
Local Elections are coming up. Who do you want to represent your city and state? Who do you want as a DA? And do you finally realize that the "top cop" position actually should serve as THE accountability partner to the FOP and not be sponsored by the police? Who are the judges in your city and state? What is their history and practice? Examine how your state has handled COVID, the state of poverty, wage inequality, immigration, LGTBQ+ rights, gun violence, internet access, and public education. These are all items that can be legislated and argued at the local level. One does not have to wait for "better" leadership in the White House. We can also propose to our local government that we want to put rank voting on the ballot. In other words, how are YOU preparing for this? Besides gearing up for a debate on social media, how can you work towards creating ripples of change. Because let's face facts, no one is coming to save us.
Critical Lens Development: Continue to read and listen to articles and interviews that came out before the primaries and after. Continue to read and listen to books and interviews about America's past. So that we can stop believing in a golden era that only every existed for the chosen few. Read about past movements and briefs and dissents written by Supreme Court judges on the last few laws and every one that has been passed. They reveal lots about the state of our courts. Read and actually speak with those you disagree with, sometimes the echo chamber is real but I do understand it is difficult to have sensitive talks with individuals you do not even trust. So do not reach out to strangers or people you only see on social media, talk with friends and colleagues. Or even better join a group that is actually doing the work so you can see who is being silenced and why. Develop critical networks.
And remember the most important practice as a person who strives for critical thinking and development, being critical is a wonderful practice to develop those muscles.
Final thoughts: America is a country that has and may never face up to her own demons, which is why I believe they continue to stir and leap out every chance they get. It is the equivalent of trying to chain a rabid dog, eventually they break free and must be put down. Is there a reason to be hopeful? Sure, but not in the way we often think. There are progressive candidates ignoring the money of lobbyist and running and winning in city and state elections. That is hope. There are organizations doing some amazing work to make sure that Black Lives Matter so that every life finally can. That is hope. There are teens speaking out and organizing against injustice and racism. That is hope. There are young people getting out to vote. That is hope. There are independent news outlets and book publishers that are getting the truth out. That is hope.
And that is why like Zora, I write and speak aloud the critiques I have. I have also had my mind changed when I watch people change because I have seen it happen. We all have the ability and capacity to evolve and change. It is what makes us higher complex mammals. We also have the ability to listen, hope, critique, disagree, and in November still VOTE.