The Devil I Know

Let’s just get to the nitty-gritty – there is no third party to vote for no matter what your feelings are on the two main candidates. A fill-in vote is a vote for the incumbent. A no-vote is a vote for the incumbent. I’m not a journalist, I’m a writer and a realist – allow me to address protest opinions of those who believe “it doesn’t matter who I vote for” because nothing will change for Black people as well as those who cloak collective benefits with their own self-interests.

“Firstly” – salute to all the Black women on the literal frontlines of voting initiatives. Yall are the essential workers of multiple movements in the midst of a pandemic and deserve a separate dissertation of praise.

As for Black men, we did a great job leveraging our power but the inconsistency of a few off-brand performances negatively affected our grade point average. The NBA bubble was a special highlight of pure excellence where some scorecards would even give higher marks to the WNBA. Put it like this: If there was a focus group for “What Black Liberation” looks like, I think Black women would be more on the same page than Black men.

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We all recognize the importance of having political clout for Black empowerment. Yet in recent years, I’ve noticed more shape-shifting ideology among Black men. For example, without a word of critique, I’m going to list 10 Black male public figures:

While most of us could project the ties that bind that group, I find it more challenging to compile a list of celebrity Black women that cause a similar reaction.

Some Black men in 2020 are looking like the undecided white women of 2016; ignoring Trump’s toxic, vile, disrespectful behavior. Instead of Hillary Clinton’s emails, they’re bringing up a crime bill (also signed by the late civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis) from over 25 years ago. These Negroes didn’t seem to be so politically astute when former President Obama first chose Biden as his running mate. Ironically, many Black men are more critical of an AKA Howard graduate as vice president than of Biden in 2008. Chances are, back then, they were the same ones saying “white people ain’t never gonna vote for a Black man named Barack Hussein Obama.”

Yeah, I know the type, who speaks with radical vibrato but watches revolutions from the sidelines with high criticism. The type who didn’t believe in the power of Colin Kaepernick and thought the NFL boycott was pointless; the type who thought he’d lose everything by taking a knee then watched in awe as Nike stood with him watching their stock rise. Then, after the death of George Floyd, the whole damn league had to kiss his cleats one way or another.

I would normally breakdown the deep-seated psychology of patriarchal white male envy and validation but now is not the time for fancy erudite language. This is a time for confrontational dialogue. This is Sam Jackson monologue time, mama saying what you “better not” do while gritting her teeth time. This is “I wish you would” say you voting for that [insert profanity here] time.

No, this is not normal partisanship. It’s not a difference of opinion or a lesser of two evils. This is decency vs. demagoguery, democracy vs. authoritarianism and the separation of cult and state. Those saying they prefer to vote for “the devil I know” don’t know they’re suffering from Stockholm’s Syndrome. Don’t be a devil worshipper in Donald’s Inferno. Don’t get rich and die from Covid trying to vote in protest of a “proposed” 3% tax increase. Let’s not forget how legislation works. A campaign plan is just a non-guaranteed promise that must get approved by Congress.

Stop, save your energy debating Biden’s “Lift Every Voice” Verzuz Trump’s Platinum Plan. Look, you know who I’m voting for but I’m not blind to the flaws. I don’t know if Biden is offering an empowerment plan or an additional stanza to the Black National Anthem. As for Trump, why didn’t he drop this platinum album 1, 2, 3, 4 years ago? “Black people, what have you got to lose?” was a nice teaser but all we’ve heard since then was the “Black unemployment” track, which is technically just Trump rhyming over an Obama beat. Listen, we should all turn the radio station, cynically united in finding both plans to be the equivalent of 40 acres and a mule. However, I do find the names to be a fascinating criterion of how the candidates view Black America. One targets soul and substance and the other panders to shine and surface. In essence, one plan is selling inspiration and the aspiration. This is how they get us.

While writing this I watched a clip of Common and Offset performing at a Biden campaign event in Atlanta. That somehow led me to watch Pop Smoke’s new video “Aim for the Moon.” Made posthumously, it imitated The Notorious B.I.G’s video for “Sky’s the Limit.” Both song titles are aspirational and use kids to portray the rappers living in luxury. In Pop’s video, having the kids in Mar-a-lago-style opulence wasn’t enough; racks of cash were in every frame as they fanned, phoned and let it fly in the air. It was a sad reminder that the popular images we perpetuate to each generation reflect a value system which makes it easier to add to the list of boys to men who would vote for Trump.

We all need money and we all want more money. We all struggle with self-preservation and cooperative economics. Don’t let stock market gains disillusion you to the retroactive America Trump is the leader of.  You don’t want to move into a low-interest dream home and get welcomed by a burning cross – for a tax cut.

Trevor is a creative mercenary and ethical lobbyist born and raised on Beale Street. Follow him on Twitter @trevbetter.

SEE ALSO:

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