So will pimping Kanye “work”? I’m not Miss Cleo, but here’s my sense of things: No. The answer is no. Black voters are nothing if not pragmatic and acutely aware that there is no political messiah who is going to save us. We vote to save ourselves. Self-preservation is the reason that so many blacks stormed the primary polls to vote for Joe Biden, some with their noses plugged to ensure that Dems did not doom us to a disastrous Bernie Sanders nomination. Those same voters, who fully recognize the existential threat that a continued Trump presidency poses to our existence, are not going to throw away their vote.
To believe that black voters, in a time in which we are fighting for our lives—both literally, due to the systemic structural inequality that renders us subject to disproportionate racial violence and poor health outcomes, as COVID-19 has shined a light on, and figuratively as we try to advance this nation towards a reckoning that will lead to liberty and justice for all—persist in showing up so that we can engage in performative political theater is to operate from a place of privilege that is divorced from the reality that black Americans live. Generally speaking, we simply don’t have the luxury of “Jill Steining” votes on principle, as some did in 2016.
Contrary to the seemingly prevailing political perspective, black people do not automatically offer full-throated support to any person deemed to have the right amount of melanin. Exhibit A: John James, a candidate who by all accounts should have a bright political future but who is currently way down in the polls in his race for the Senate. Or, for that matter, Exhibit B: the fates of Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Deval Patrick during the Democratic primaries.