CNN commentator Van Jones, who is black, made the following statement on-air soon after the projections showed that Donald Trump would win the Presidency:
“This was a whitelash – this was a whitelash against a changing country. It was whitelash against a black president, in part.”
Hyperbole? Exaggeration? Not if a number of exit polls taken at hundreds of polling places across the nation happen to be correct. White voters, who compose 69% of voters, voted 58% for Trump and 37% for Clinton. This margin was even more pronounced among men. White men opted 63% for Trump and 31% for Clinton, while white women voted 53% for Trump and 43% for Clinton.
By comparison, non-white voters, who make up 31% of the electorate, voted 74% for Clinton and 21% for Trump.
Trump not only won white voters without a college degree by a margin of 67% to 28%, according to Research for the National Election Pool and Pew Research, but also those white voters with a college degree, if by a much smaller margin of 49% to 45%.
Even among more well-off whites, according to CNN studies, of the 64% of American voters who earn more than $50,000 a year, 49% chose Trump, and 47% Clinton.
Unhappily, these aren’t just factoids and statistics. They represent a white misperception of economic reality… or possibly just a failure by affected white workers to understand that they’re not the only ones hurting, and hurting badly.
I’m not denying that 5-6 million largely white manufacturing workers lost jobs to globalization and automation. Nor am I denying that middle-class income levels, largely of white families, have stagnated over the past thirty years.
The problem is that it’s far worse for minorities, and they feel that their opportunities are also hampered by persistent discrimination and by an economic and justice system that makes their path harder than for whites.
Even though now 23% of African Americans over age 25 have at least one college degree, 36% of whites, and 53% of Asian Americans do. Unfortunately, only15% of Latinos do.
But even with equal degrees, the results aren’t equal. On average, college-educated and degreed blacks make 20% less than similarly educated whites.
According to Census figures, the average [median] income of all households in the U.S. is about $54,000, but the average income of African American households is lower than any other ethnic group at just over $35,000. In terms of savings and housing and some form of assets that can buffer hard times, the average [median] household wealth for whites is $114,000, for Hispanics $13,000, and for African-Americans $11,000. Not only that, but over the past 25 years, the wealth gap between blacks and whites has nearly tripled, according to research by Brandeis University.
Currently, a quarter of black and Hispanic families live in poverty, compared to ten percent of white families, and the numbers are even starker when looking at child poverty. Under 11% of white children were in poverty in 2013, but 38% of black children and 30% of Hispanic children are poor.
While great improvements have been made in the educational achievement of minorities and in increasing minority income levels, the gaps are still huge.
What this means, in political and social terms, is that the Trump administration cannot just focus on dealing with “white” economic pain, not without risking even greater political and societal unrest, an unrest that will get even more intense if it is not addressed as the white electorate becomes a smaller and smaller proportion of the population – and we’re talking about a population shift without taking into account ANY future immigration or lack thereof.
Catering to “whitelash” exclusively is a prescription for longer term disaster.
And all that doesn’t even take into account the equally great problem of gender discrimination, which is far too big a subject to include in this post, except to note that it’s also a problem that isn’t going to go away, no matter what white males think.