Dear white American women,
You blew it. Again. Only this time, it’s even worse.
Back in 2016, a majority of you voted for Donald Trump, an open racist who bragged about “grabbing” women “by the pussy,” who called Mexicans “rapists,” who proclaimed “Islam hates us.”
Forty-seven percent of you voted for this.
Aghast, you sprung into action. You donned pink pussy hats, you wrote postcards, you made signs, you feverishly Facebooked and Instagrammed, you marched here, there, everywhere. We could barely look left or right without seeing you fists pumped into the sky, megaphones on high. You protested for science. You decried misogyny.
You absolutely adored Black Lives Matter, blanketing your yard with signs, your wardrobe with T-shirts, your nightstands with so many anti-racism books, even Amazon had trouble satiating your voracious appetite. You went so far as to use a black square as your social media profile pic for a day.
And then on election day, this past Tuesday, you hopped off your Peloton, dusted off all those unread books, pulled on a well-worn social justice T-shirt and marched to the polling station.
And you checked that box for Trump. Again.
Fifty-five percent of you this time, according to exit polls. That’s even more than 2016, when exit polls said 53% of you voted for him, when he was still all just talk.
It’s almost as if you became more, rather than less, committed to white supremacy. To xenophobia. To hate. To violence.
After all, Trump has blood on his hands. More than 235,000 Americans are dead from Covid-19. There are 545 migrant children separated from their parents, who have not been found. There is the Muslim ban, the trans military ban, calling Nazis “very fine people,” supporting police brutality against Black people, denying climate change, packing federal courts with jurists who believe in eviscerating human rights – and the list goes on and on.
More than half of you, white women, voted for this. Ergo, you too have blood on your hands.
I wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’m not. This is who you are, who you have always been. Pawns of the patriarchy, diligent foot soldiers of white supremacy. Sure, white men enjoy more power than you, but you share equally in white privilege and have always protected your skin privilege at all costs.
Why would we have believed this time to be different? You had some of us fooled with your performative activism these past four years, but in the end, you returned to your comfort zone.
Now feels like a good time to return to one of your favourite questions: “How can I be an ally”?
Here’s a good first step: don’t vote for a white nationalist and fascist. That would be a beginning. Also, if you have husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends, colleagues, neighbours ― not letting them vote for a white nationalist and fascist.
Mostly, you need to stop pretending. Stop with the yard signs, T-shirts and posters. Stop posting picture after picture of you and your kids at social justice rallies. Stop tweeting about all your good deeds. Stop performing White Woman Saviour, The Broadway Musical and start voting for folks who do not want to kill us.
Not voting for fascist and white supremacists is way more helpful than attending and live tweeting your fiftieth march for [insert woke cause here].
Joe Biden will hopefully eke this out, no thanks to you and all thanks to Black voters. But we do have to live with the fact that nearly 70m Americans voted for Trump. And when he is gone from the White House – no doubt, kicking and screaming and likely, worse – those voters will still be here. You, white women, made up a considerable chunk of that number. And we know you, like Trump, won’t go softly.
A Biden presidency is certainly damage control, but he is not a panacea.
So before you blissfully return to brunch, don’t. If you are not in that 55% of white women who voted for Trump, find out who in your network did – and roll up your yoga pants and start to work on them.
That’s what we need you to do.
Much to your chagrin, this is just the beginning, not the end. And thanks to so many of you, brunch will have to wait.
Saira Rao is the daughter of Indian immigrants, a former congressional candidate, co-founder of Race2Dinner and co-author of forthcoming WHITE WOMEN: EVERYTHING YOU ALREADY KNOW ABOUT YOUR OWN RACISM AND HOW TO DO BETTER (Penguin).