Y’all. Please stop blaming this election on disaffected White working class voters in Appalachia "who have been left behind" by the political establishment. Those voters exist, and many of them did vote Trump. But Trump was not elected by Kentucky. He was elected by White people — White people from all economic backgrounds and genders and geographic regions, many with college degrees and many without. White women voted for Trump. Even college-educated White women only went for Clinton by a six-point margin.
If this country only counted the votes of people of color, Trump would not have won a single Electoral College vote. Many people have noted that Clinton lost the White vote by only two percentage points fewer than Obama did in 2016 and that we should instead look the lower turnout from Black and Latino voters to explain her unsuccessful campaign.
While it is true that minority voters did not turn out to the same extent that they did four years ago — and for good reason, as Clinton didn’t do nearly enough to convince these communities that she was listening to them and would work to protect their families from state violence — 94 percent of Black women and 80 percent of Black men voted for her. If we are to overturn this politics of White ethno-nationalism, we can’t rely on surge voting from the already-marginalized to save us; it’s time to dismantle the structures and ideologies that make such a populist, xenophobic and racialized worldview meaningful and credible.
The electoral analysis will continue to trickle out, I'm sure, over the coming months. But the exit polls already make it clear — as if the Black and brown communities haven't already been trying to tell us White folks about this for years on years on years — that White supremacy is not an outdated characterization of America's KKK past, but is an active and powerful concept.
It explains how Obama won only 39 percent of White votes in 2012. It explains how 58 percent of White Americans could put such an unstable figure in control of so many people's fates in 2016. White supremacy best describes this institutional order and the normalized way of viewing who deserves the title 'American' and the advantages that follow. And it captures why the work we have to do isn't about turning out minority voters.
So it's time to stop being shocked about the extent of White racism and to start figuring out how to do something about it.