Not acting is an action. Many on the left prefer a colorblind approach to racism. Throughout the 2020 campaign, they ignored Conservatives ‘defund the police’ Dog Whistle and concentrated on the economic issues that all Americans were facing in the middle of the pandemic.
How did ignoring race work? Even with a shockingly unqualified top-of-the-ticket, 2020 saw electoral gains for Republicans. While Joe Biden won by 8 million votes, Democrats in other races didn’t fare as well. Seats were lost in the House of Representatives. In Michigan, incumbents barely held their seats, and there was no change in the State House. In a particularly galling case of gaslighting, those ignoring race blamed those calling out the bigotry for their electoral losses.
The two standard liberal responses to racism – calling out the bigots and ignoring race – were no match for the Conservatives mastery of Dog Whistles as strategic racism. Calling someone names is an attack on their character, leaving us open to denial. But racism is real, and not talking about it leaves a vacuum. That leaves space for Conservatives to fill with Dog Whistles.
Want to bring the left together? Instead of fighting over calling out bigots or ignoring race, we can unite with Race-Class. Next week’s blog, Part IV: Frame the Future with Race-Class Narrative discusses an actual technique to take power and build cross-racial solidarity. It teaches us to seize the moment and reimagine our multi-racial future.
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