The Stance is Difficult…
The position held by “Woke” white people shouldn’t really come as a surprise and whilst it’s arguable they should have known ethnic voters were not lying about their experiences of racism and that #blacklivesmatter is an actual thing for an actual reason, we have to be cognisant of the underground and institutional, systemic nature of racism.
Lessons from History
An effect symbolic of the nature of the “difficulty” was seen in an event that occurred in the 1980’s and referenced during Barack Obama’s first campaign. The Bradley Effect. Most people hide opinions that they think are borderline racist. They hide it from people of colour and they hide it from other white people, especially when their workplaces are hubs of what they consider “left of centre” voters. Also, most workplaces are a hub of homophily, which means people are much less likely to see an opposing experience or view, on both sides of any divide. Surround oneself with, or to bastardise a phrase “be surrounded by” people and opinions of colour [of people or politics] and your opinions are shaped by that sense of belonging or disenfranchisement.
What this means is that in places where most of the workforce are white, with a 2% ethnic populace, the dire effects that lead to the persecution of black and ethnic minority people in america will be totally underappreciated, whatever the political stance of people. After all, it affects “only” 2% of people at work. This means those 2% of people will be much more adept at identifying the micro-aggression perpetrated by racists adept at “hiding it and sniping it” through borderline language.
However, look to the other extreme, areas of low BAME integration or low skilled jobs, where there may be either no BAME employees, resulting in a propagation of uneducated, bigoted views at a much much higher rate than average and contrast that with, dare I say, jobs with almost entirely BAME workers, where the effects and experiences are over-represented.
This means that for those people who are white, male, straight, middle class, who through no conscious fault of their own have lived in a bubble in regards the difficulties ethnic minorities face, that was shaped by forces “somewhere over there” way outside what folk term privilege, fr most of their lives, this really is an awakening.
To be honest, I don’t begrudge them that. Most of the said white voters on the losing side have enough brains to pick it (and themselves) up and run with it. As you say, many people of colour in the US need them right now. The event has highlighted to them just how racist, xenophobic and also exploitative the USA actually is, when their mental model of the world was that they lived in the pinnacle of the free world, which it turns out, is just a ruse. It is why people of colour are much less likely to be promoted, much less likely to win business, much less likely to be acquitted of charges, even sometimes much less likely to find places to rent.
To be fair, it’s probably less of a highlight, more a huge slap in the face to white voters supportive of the BAME struggle. They are going through a lot of cognitive dissonance right now, including how for some, their hard work, educating and campaigning has had exactly thew opposite effect and it’ll take a while for them to figure this and their place within the world in the next 4 years out (at least) out and re-engage. I think there are better people to be taking down a peg or two.
We can’t forget that, according to the exit polls, people of colour were not won over by Clinton in the numbers she needed. Indeed, some even voiced their intent not to vote at all, which I surprisingly saw more than once. As you rightly say, this was considered by many as a choice between the lesser of two evils.
The difference in numbers between BAME voters voting Trump and Clinton was not as high as in previous years. To pick a few analyses with exit poll data:
Paul Ryan said Donald Trump tapped into something other elections did not, which led to people engaging in ways others had not. Numerically, he’s not wrong. However, ballots cast and voter numbers were broadly the same, though the proportion of those registered to vote changed. This leads us to the conclusion that the make up of voters changed and changed dramatically.
We also can’t forget that the USA, much like the UK, has a natural “skew”. 47% of US voters will vote Republican no matter what. So Democrats have always got a battle for the floating voters who make up much more than the electoral colleges of the swing states. It’s almost as if Democrats have to start from scratch every, single, time, whilst Republicans can pretty much always rely on a 47% head start.
Yet, I’d argue it was more than that. It was the combination of Clinton and Trump running against each other that led to this. This was a rebellion against education and competence. People wanted something different and their choice to go with someone as extreme as Trump, to be frank, leads me to posit that people didn’t think #BlackLivesMatter enough :(