Donald Trump slander is being slung by every black writer I know from every inch of the Internet, as it should be. How can a person with so many obvious flaws become the nominee of a major political party? No, really — I’m still confused. Everything from his overtly racist rallies and the way he trashes women to his gross generalizations about immigrants — and his hair — offends us. But collectively, I’m worried that we African-Americans are sending the wrong message to the general public. Contempt for Trump doesn’t equal love for Hillary Clinton and her husband, or even basic support.
I was in one of those comfy Acela chairs on my way back to Baltimore from a recent New York trip. A middle-aged white dude in non-stylish frames took the chair directly across from me. We had barely pulled out of Penn Station before he asked me, “Did you watch the debate? What did you think of the debate?”
“It was everything I thought it would be,” I said. “She prepared, he didn’t. She came off as sharp, he didn’t.”
He sat up straight in his chair, closed his ears and opened his mouth.
“I’m so over this election,” he said with exhausted eyebrows, “It’s a joke.” He then took off his jacket and went on an “I hate Hillary” rant all the way from Manhattan to his stop in Philly — nonstop, everything from her days as a toddler up to our current conversation. It was the emails, it was Benghazi, it was Monica Lewinsky, it was her pantsuits, and on and on and on. I tuned him out, drifted off in my head — and came back for this: “America can’t take another four years of the Clintons! Sorry I trashed your candidate, man, but she’s so bad. Anyway, have a safe trip!”
I chucked a peace sign in his direction, put my earphones on, turned Coltrane up and gazed out the window. It really didn’t dawn on me until I passed Delaware: I never said anything to the dude about being a Clinton fan. I couldn’t be a Clinton fan if I wanted to — that racist crime bill from 1994 locked my whole family up. Not just my blood relatives, but all of the brothers and sisters in my community — the mentors, the role models, the coaches. The people responsible for grandfathering us into successful lives are gone, and we are bitter. So bitter — an impenetrable bitterness that’s harder than cold steel and so toxic, so acidic that if liquefied it’ll easily melt flesh and dissolve elephant bones. It’s 2016, and Hillary and Bill are still calling us super-predators.