By Vernon A. Williams
Congratulations to Vice-President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris for an impressive campaign culminating a strong, classy showing against a nasty opponent.
Election Day did not end the suspense. After a long, bitter battle for the presidency and control of the U.S. Senate, voters went to bed November 3 with nothing settled – at least in terms of the outcome.
Democratic candidate Joe Biden admonished followers to be patient, confident that the outstanding votes would swing the outcome his way. At the polar extreme was the incumbent who declared victory, pushing to dismiss uncounted ballots.
Their reactions to the indecision of the nation typified the sharp contrasts between the two. But while they viewed this extraordinary election from vastly different perspectives, there is a single truth emerging from this election that is inarguable.
We are sadly a nation horribly, destructively and – the pessimists say – irreparably divided. There are gaps predicated on gender, religion, income, education, sexual preference, geographic origins, nationalities, and political persuasion.
But the deepest and most severe chasm continues to emanate from America’s gravest sin – the race issue. This antipathy is even more pointed given the sense of optimism generated by multiracial responses to the tragic killings this year of Black Americans by white law enforcement officers. There was a definable thrust for an antiracial imperative.
This past election, in the minds of many, is that uplifting dialogue of possibilities never existed. To maintain focus, many of those positive initiatives have already had, and will have for years to come, sustainable impact.
There was more than mere lip service given to the imperative for change, as major institutions and corporate giants pledged change and resources. We should not conflate the surge of racial division to infer that recent forward progress is negated or even diminished. But it may definitely impair momentum for positive change.
The tone of racism was evidenced before election day, as cities around the country decided to board up stores, restaurants, banks and office buildings downtown as a safeguard to anticipated violent outbreaks from Blacks reacting to disappointing results. There is so much fundamentally wrong with that unwarranted apprehension.
When was the riot, looting or civil unrest caused by election outcome? Blacks could not have been more disappointed than they were in 2016. But while the Agent Orange win four years ago brought lament and despair, there was no civil unrest. For a period following there were widespread protests but no public destruction of property or violence.
We are better than that. Such ignorant fear of the dark is rooted in an utter lack of communication with and comprehension of people of African descent. It also reflects a total lack of historical perspective. The truth is that most riots in the U.S. were sparked by police brutality and murders of unarmed African Americans – not election result angst.
This is an insult to law-abiding, decent, God-fearing people who happen to be African American. There is a possibility that those who decided to order the plywood over windows are not necessarily racists. But their decision embodies racist mindsets. Intentionally or not, that mentality retards progressive thinking and feeds disunity.
Every boarded up building in Indianapolis, and cities around the country, stands as a monument to bigotry and prejudice; acquiescence of our spirit of oneness.
The final outcome of the presidential race was undetermined long after the polls closed: But any thought that the political picture looking vastly different after a year of bitter debate and national reflection, and as a result of a cathartic presidential election, faded in the aftermath. Lines of demarcation remain as they have been for years. In some instances, the divide seems even wider.
The gap between men and women in Tuesday’s voting was large: Democrat Joe Biden drew the votes of 55 percent of women but just 47 percent of men, according to AP VoteCast, a broad nationwide survey conducted for the Wall Street Journal and other news organizations. America’s misogyny continues to be a factor when a woman is anywhere on the ticket.
Forty-five won the votes of 64 percent of white working-class men, while Biden won an almost identical 60 percent of the votes of white women with college degrees. Inexplicably, the incumbent may have made some inroads with Black men and Hispanics in Florida, but fortunately, voters of color remain a heavily Democratic constituency.
So despite the fact that the current occupant of the Oval Office failed to provide leadership during a pandemic – resulting in tens of thousands of deaths; despite his calling our armed forces members “losers”; despite revelations that he paid no taxes for a decade and only $750 for two years; despite alienating allies and embracing adversaries; despite feeding division and rejecting diversity; despite keeping children in cages separated from families; despite too many lies, crimes and breaches of protocol to calculate – 45 maintains his base.
We are still a nation divided.
The division in this nation is disheartening for Black people – and all Americans who still believe in humanity, freedom, equity, justice and genuine principles of democracy. But we are far from discouraged. We will persevere – unwilling to be faded into oblivion. We will uncompromisingly stake our claim to irrefutable birthrights of American citizenship. We won’t give up, give in or be denied. We are better than that! And God is on our side.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on a myriad of topics that include social issue, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.