While many supporters of President-elect Joe Biden are still relishing the sweet taste of victory, some Black folks remain cautious about what lurks around the corner and question if this is the quiet before the storm. The day the election was called was a day of celebration for many, but we have two lingering issues on our hands, the first being Donald Trump and his base. Simply put, they’re big mad about the election, and Trump is fueling their anger, making some in the Black community concerned about their physical safety should his base decide to lash out.
The second potential issue looms around continued cynicism about how or if a Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris White House will positively benefit the Black community. Some are going as far as to question if Trump was a better pick for Black people. Either way, we can’t afford to let our guard down, and we have to remain aware of the possible policy and safety implications that a transfer of power might entail. In the immortal words of rapper Suga Free, “If you stay ready, you don’t gotta get ready.”
There’s growing concern about the culture of hatred that Trump has unleashed and the physical safety of the Black community post-election. Trump has proclaimed that he’s “the least racist person” in the room, but his actions leave much to be desired. Over the past six years, Trump has used divisive and inflammatory language to galvanize his base and perpetuate anti-Blackness. He panders to Whites who have historically benefited from racial privilege and are lashing out against any challenge to their societal advantages.
Lest anyone forget, during the first 2020 presidential debate, Trump refused to explicitly denounce White supremacist groups and instead gave a personal shoutout to the Proud Boys. Trump has also inaccurately portrayed Black Lives Matter activists as determined to end America, retweeted a video showing one of his supporters shouting “White power,” referred to African countries as “shitholes,” and ordered aids to change racial sensitivity training at federal agencies to no longer examine White privilege or use critical race theory.
Given this tacit thumbs-up, it’s no surprise that hate crimes toward Black people have increased since 2016 and spiked even higher after the killing of George Floyd. No area of the country is immune.
Trump’s defeat is bittersweet in that it comes with a healthy dose of paranoia.
As a short refresher, recall that in July, a KKK leader was accused of driving his car into a group of peaceful protestors in Virginia, and a White man was caught on tape accelerating his car toward a Black woman in a Wisconsin parking lot. Nooses were found hanging in Las Vegas, Portland, Baltimore, Nebraska, and Delaware, and five Black men were found hanging from trees in California, New York, Texas, and New Jersey—all of which were ruled as suicides, despite activists’ calls for more in-depth investigations. And in Kentucky, a historically Black church was shot at five times.
Black people need to stay vigilant, because far-right and neo-Nazi organizations are emboldened. Convicted felon Kyle Chapman announced on social media that he was taking over the Proud Boys to address “White genocide” and the “failures of multiculturalism.” Chapman wrote, “We will no longer cuck to the left by appointing token negroes as our leaders… We recognize that the West was built by the White Race alone and we owe nothing to any other race.”
Though the group’s leader denied current involvement with Chapman, Black people are taking notice. Trump’s defeat is bittersweet in that it comes with a healthy dose of paranoia.
Make no mistakes about it, some Black folks are arming themselves in the event they find themselves in a “knuck if you buck” type situation with an angry Trump supporter. In fact, gun sales among Black people began to increase after the killing of Floyd. The National Shooting Sports Foundation reported that in the first six months of 2020, White men accounted for 56% of gun purchases, which is consistent with gun ownership trends. But in the past six months, there has been a 58% increase in gun ownership among Black men and women. This is not to suggest that every Black person should run out and buy a firearm, but awareness goes a long way. It’s important to take the necessary measures toward safety by remaining aware of our surroundings, knowledgeable about hate crimes or racist incidents in our neighborhoods, and at least carrying a little pepper spray — or something stronger — just in case.
Equally concerning is how Black folks will fare in terms of policy. Throughout Trump’s presidency, he has applauded himself for various strides made in the Black community, one of which has been lowering unemployment numbers for Black people. But that needs to be fact-checked, because many argue that improved employment was not the result of Trump, but rather the residual effects of policy implemented by President Barack Obama. Likewise, Trump’s previous claims of saving HBCUs were also met with several side-eyes. Given Donald Trump’s racist track record as a businessman and the nasty things he has said about the Black community, I’m not buying his sudden commitment to provide HBCUs with resources that are equitable to PWIs. It looks like his claims are more than likely smoke and mirrors to pander to Black voters while seeking praise for the work of his predecessors.
While it remains unknown how effective Biden will be, there’s a growing concern about the culture of hatred that Trump has unleashed and the physical safety of the Black community post-election.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s great that Trump pushed through Congress’ efforts for increased funding to be allocated to HBCUs, but let’s be clear: That’s all he did. He did not reinvent the wheel or make any contentious or intentional efforts to make meaningful change for HBCUs. He rode on the coattails of others who did see the immense value in continuing the rich legacy of HBCUs. The same coattailing was true for the Future Act, which was also passed in a bipartisan vote but was started by President George W. Bush and extended by Obama.
Then there’s the infamous Platinum Plan that the Trump administration consulted with Ice Cube to draft and used to pander to the Black community during the election. In it, the administration promised to improve economic empowerment, homeownership, job opportunities, affordable health care, and safer streets. But we would be remiss if we didn’t point out that Trump’s health care plan does not cover people with preexisting medical conditions, which is problematic given the grave health disparities the Black community faces.
I’m not completely certain that Biden’s policies will bode much better. Biden plans to invest in Black-owned businesses, financially support Black churches, expand access to higher education, and reverse Trump administration policies that impact fair lending and housing. Other promises the incoming administration makes include forgiving $10,000 in student loan debt for every borrower, cutting taxes for the middle class and low-wage earners, and increasing overall government spending on health care, education, and other social programs. Although Biden’s plans sound promising, the Democratic Party has faced heavy criticism for talking the talk but not walking the walk when it comes to keeping their word to the Black community.
Watchful waiting should be our collective next step.