Black voters: Make clear choices, not false equivalencies

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To everyone trying to “both sides” the 2024 presidential election by claiming Joe Biden and Donald Trump are just two equally bad choices, here’s my message: Cut the crap. 

This isn’t an election of two bad choices; it’s an election of clear choices

Black voters stand at a critical juncture. Our ancestors fought, bled and died for the right to choose our own destiny. One path leads toward a future that upholds the principles they fought for — democracy, protection and the basic decency to treat us as human beings. The other path threatens to drag us back to the darkest chapters of our history. 

The contrast couldn’t be sharper if it were carved with a razor. It’s about honoring our ancestors’ legacy versus betraying everything they stood for. This is why the “no difference” crowd needs to put down the rose-colored glasses and pick up a newspaper. 

If you can look at the dumpster fire that was the Trump presidency, now compounded by his status as a 34-time felon, and still claim with a straight face that a Biden presidency would just be more of the same, then this wasn’t written for you. 

Unlike the man facing multiple criminal charges, President Biden’s administration has taken concrete steps to address inequality and empower Black communities. 

His American Rescue Plan included stimulus payments, child tax credits and unemployment benefits that provided crucial support to Black households hit hardest by the pandemic. His racial equity plan proposes investments in affordable housing, Black-owned businesses, and closing wage gaps.

In an effort to bolster Black American homeownership and wealth creation, under a Biden administration proposal, individuals making their first home purchase could be provided up to $15,000 in down payment assistance. 

He is also dedicated to paving the path towards cannabis decriminalization, a crucial shift that could significantly reduce the disproportionate burden placed on the Black community by previous drug policies. 

Most importantly, Biden protected and expanded the Affordable Care Act, ensuring millions of Black folks can keep their health care.

Don’t get me started on the absurdity spouted by Trump’s potential vice president pick, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), who claimed that Black families were stronger under Jim Crow. This distortion of history is not just misleading; it’s damaging buffoonery in the worst way. It blatantly ignores the brutal oppression and systemic injustices inflicted on Black Americans under Jim Crow — laws that were deliberately crafted to dehumanize and disenfranchise. 

To suggest that Black families were better off during a period defined by such overt racism is not only historically inaccurate, it also cynically distorts the profound suffering and relentless struggle faced by our ancestors. We see what you’re doing and recognize the charade. The assertion is deeply offensive and undermines the genuine hardships endured by countless Black individuals and families, making light of their relentless fight for justice and dignity.

The Republican Party’s record is one of doubling down on a politics of white grievance, attacking voting rights and stoking racist fears. Their agenda of cutting assistance programs and militarizing police would disproportionately harm Black folks. 

Under the Trump administration, the racial wealth gap increased, with the average white family having 10 times more wealth than the average Black family. Under Trump, the median income for Black households in 2019 was $45,438, while for white households it was $76,057. 

His attempts to repeal ObamaCare threatened the health insurance of millions of Black Americans who gained coverage under the ACA. And let’s not forget the 20 percent spike in hate crimes during his presidency, with Black folks being the number one target.

Acting like Biden and Trump are two sides of the same coin erases these critical differences. It’s a privileged cop-out from grappling with the real-world consequences for our community. We don’t have the luxury of that kind of false equivalence. There’s too much at stake.

I get it — Democrats often take our votes for granted and change never comes fast enough. That criticism is valid. But the answer can’t be to throw up our hands and pretend there’s no difference, or worse, to empower a party that’s actively hostile to our interests and beholden to dangerous extremism. 

In this two-party reality, we must stay clear-eyed about the choices in front of us, imperfect as they are. No false equivalencies, no privileged apathy.

This is not an election of two bad choices, this is an election of clear choices. One choice is a president who has proven he’ll at least try to tackle racial equity and support Black communities. The other is an opposition hellbent on undoing generational progress and ignoring our pain. 

We don’t have the luxury of false equivalencies. The stakes are too high and the differences too clear for that reckless comparison. 

No excuses. No false equivalencies. This election is literally about our nation’s trajectory and our community’s ability to survive and thrive in it. 

If we vote, we win. Period.

Michael Starr Hopkins is the host of “It Matters/w Michael Starr Hopkins.”

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