United States, November 2016. There’s been a lot of ugliness, not a lot of beauty. A lot of hate, not a lot of love. A lot of terrified fear, not a lot of hope. And yet, there’s something poignant, something beautiful about this:
“We are seeing tremendous momentum, large numbers of people turning out, breaking records,” Mrs. Clinton said here in Pembroke Pines before cutting her remarks short when torrential afternoon rain began falling on the racially mixed crowd. Before taking the stage, she greeted voters at a heavily Cuban early voting center in West Miami and then stopped in at her storefront field office in Miami’s Little Haiti.
–Jonathan Martin, Hillary Clinton Appears to Gain Late Momentum on Surge of Latino Voters
Emphasis added. Who knows what led Jonathan Martin of The New York Times to mark this as a “racially mixed crowd” and not just say “rain began falling on the crowd.” Is it a racially mixed crowd in relation to the racially unmixed crowds of other campaigns? Does Florida feature a racially mixed crowd in ways that other states do not? Or does November Rain evoke a racially mixed crowd like the racially mixed Slash?
Whatever the reason, it perhaps is a sign of something beautiful coalescing. In 2003, Michel-Rolph Trouillot speculated about the future of race relations in the United States:
What matters here is how the changing construction of whiteness intersects with the maintenance of a white/black divide that structures all race relations in the United States. Whether significant numbers of the people now called Latinos or Asian Americans–or the significant numbers of their known “mixed” offspring with whites–will become probationary whites and thus reinforce the structure is an important indicator of the future of race relations in the United States. (Trouillot 2003:151, Global Transformations)
For a good while it looked like this was indeed the predominant theme, that “probationary whites” would reinforce the structure (see for example my 2011 Race Remixed? Probationary Whites and a Racism Reality Check). And yet, perhaps due to the virulence of 2016, maybe it’s better to be in the racially mixed crowd than to be a probationary white in the white crowd.
The Racially Mixed Crowd as “Coalition of the Diverse”
Also at The New York Times, Op-Ed columnist Ross Douthat laments the decline of the large white family, in what Sarah Kendzior calls “one of the most overtly racist things I’ve read in NYT” (h/t Discuss White Privilege). In Douthat’s lament and rant, the racially mixed crowd cannot last: “A post-familial society may unleash tribal competition within the coalition of the diverse, as people reach anew for ethnic solidarity and then fight furiously over liberalism’s spoils.”
No way Douthat. Your fantasies of tribal competition are unsupported by anthropology. Saying “tribal” betrays you slept through Anthropology 101.
It may be a brief moment, a glimmer of hope in a torrential afternoon rain. But for now let’s vote with the beauty of the racially mixed crowd, feeling the love in a coalition of the diverse.
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