Trump Says Blacks Never Had It So Good — And Many Agree With Him
Even in the midst of a rapidly building House impeachment inquiry and soon-to-come trial in the Senate, Donald Trump orchestrated what may only be described as a well scripted pseudo-rally consisting of about 300 carefully chosen, mostly young, and mostly black supporters. He entertained and feted these putative “black conservatives” at his normally lily white White House. As reported by Politico.com, this “event” was replete with all manner of campaign energy and regalia, including campaign-style chants of “USA! USA!” and, of course, “FOUR MORE YEARS!!”
A beaming president acknowledged this crowd of black over-achievers and bestowed his blessings on the gathered throng: “You broke the sound barrier,” Trump bellowed. The African American students’ and young professionals’ (“BUPPIES?) chants and cheers seemed to overwhelm him: “I’ve never heard it quite like that, and I appreciate it. We love you,” declared the rarely awed president.
The obvious purpose of this “rally,” was to respond to Trump’s ever-diminishing poll numbers among black voters and to invent and then burnish his currently non-existent civil and human rights bona fides. Thus, as always, he congratulated and complimented himself on the “historically low” unemployment stats among black Americans.
Trump juxtaposed this always unexamined statistic against his many vocal and visible black critics — “unexamined” because, like the overall low jobless numbers and the relatively robust economy itself, these numbers and conditions obviously reflect the steadily upward trajectory and after-glow of eight consecutive years of economic improvements put in place by the previous administration. (That would be ex-Prez Barack Hussein Obama).
Trump called out those black critics and his favorite foil, the news media. He admitted something to the assembled young black folk that no president since Lincoln has come close to acknowledging: He actually credited African Americans for building the country. This was, presumably, a reference to their ancestors’ role as slaves.
“You know, you’re just starting to get real credit for that, okay,” Trump said. “I don’t know if you know that…you’re just starting to get — you built the nation. We all built it, but you were such a massive part of it. Bigger than you were given credit for.” (Emphasis added).
Apparently, not sure that he was getting through to his adoring black fans, Trump asked them, “Does that make sense?”
This is the same man, the selfsame president who during the just passed summer loudly, repeatedly and angrily excoriated four progressive American congresswomen of color, telling them to go back to where they came from and clean up their own “shithole” countries. (The “shithole” reference is from an earlier tirade).
This admission and recognition of centuries-long white terror, white torture and black forced labor was, remarkably, emanating from a man, a president, who had also earlier lambasted the now late Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, his congressional district and its principal city as “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”
This White House event was actually Trump’s second speech within the last thirty days in which he addressed a predominately black audience. Early last month, he made a broad appeal before students, faculty and administrators of historically black colleges and universities, urging them to remember — and appreciate — how very much he’s done for them, and that he wanted — needed — their support next November.
He singled out his favorite black conservative commentators for special praise: Candace Owens, Terrence Williams and White House aide Ja’Ron Smith. He invited each of them to join him on stage. Trump lauded Smith for his White House role (without specifying exactly what that might be), and profusely commended Owens for her many fiery and defiant television and social media appearances. He thanked Williams for his tweets rebutting actress Debra Messing, a staunch Trump adversary.
But! Apparently unable to fully suppress his sexist-racist penchant and proclivities , Trump pronounced Owens to be not only a media “star” but “tough” and “beautiful” as well. He elaborated:
“Under the #MeToo generation, we’re not allowed to say it,” Trump confided. So all of you young, brilliant guys, never, ever call a woman beautiful, please. You’re not allowed to do it.”
He then returned to his signature theme whenever he discusses black people: African Americans are “…finding jobs and they’re getting good jobs and if you don’t like that job you can get another one because you have a lot of choice.”
Finally, and as always, he went after Democrats, lumping them in with the demon (“enemy of the American people”) media:
“While we are fighting every day to build up our nation, the far left only wants to wreck, ruin and destroy our nation,” he said. “And you know better than anybody, for the last three years, Democrat [sic] lawmakers, their deep-state cronies, the fake news media, they’ve been colluding in their effort to overturn the presidential election — 63 million people voted — and to nullify the votes of the American people and many African American people voted for Trump, even then. Now they like me more.”
As usual, facts, especially those that run counter to Trump’s “worldview,” do not carry much weight when received, perceived, and interpreted by this man. Throughout his presidency, he has been unwilling and apparently unable to admit that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 by roughly 3 million votes, 63 million to 65.8 million. And, that a mere 8 percent of the black vote went his way. These two facts just do not seem to penetrate his clouded view of himself. Likewise, here’s another Trump-ignored fact: He flatly refuses to believe, acknowledge or accept that poll after poll indicates that a full 81 percent of African American voters today disapprove of his job as president.
The Trump campaign’s irregular forays into the black community appear grounded in hopes that it can peel off (by hook or by crook) just enough black voters next year in those same three key states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to again eek out yet another electoral college victory. Trump won in each of those states by less than one percentage point and amid rampant voter suppression and, in several instances, actual, documented, outright and massive voter fraud.
As for the Democrats, Trump, with some justification, preaches to black people that the Democratic Party has routinely taken black people for granted for more than 100 years. This assertion may be filed under the heading: “Even a broken clock…”
However, his assertion that he and his Republican cohorts and their policies have purposely and significantly benefited black people for the last three years runs contrary to the lived experiences of most black people in this nation-state.
“No one in America has been hurt more as a result of the Democrats’ corrupt leadership and socialist policies than our nation’s African American community,” Trump said. “It’s true. That’s true.”
He then slipped back into identifying and “signifying” his special black friends:
Trump credited South Carolina’s Senator Tim Scott for convincing him to establish “opportunity zones” to stimulate investment in distressed communities, and he thanked himself for ramming through Congress a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, even though the whole concept of the ”First Step” policy was CNN’s Van Jones’ and the Rev. Al Sharpton’s original idea. But he noted that Sharpton, “was nowhere to be found” as the bill coursed through Congress. But since then, even Jones has fallen out of Trump’s favor because Jones is now busy telling voters to vote against Trump next year.
Trump dismissed Sharpton as a “conman” who “scared NBC into giving him a show” and called upon Jones to call senior White House adviser and First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner, who, by contrast, according to Trump, “played a big role behind the scenes” in the criminal justice bill’s passage, and apologize to him.
In fact (Trump’s conception of “fact,” that is), “[Jones] apologized. But I don’t accept those apologies,” he said.
And, of course, Trump is apparently, simply, physically unable to address a crowd of more than two without voicing support for law enforcement and Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel. He claimed that because African Americans live near “brutal killers,” they are often their victims. May we presume that these “brutal killers” are other brown and black people? Immigrants all, “legal” and/or “illegal”?
Here, I fear, Trump wandered into stream of consciousness territory:
“They’re killers, but you’re tough,” he told the crowd. “You fight back. But sometimes you don’t win those fights because these guys are tough, too. They shouldn’t be in our country.”
Whenever challenged about his (and his family’s) long and well documented history of white racism/white supremacy, Donald Trump likes to insist that he is “the least racist person” in the room…in the country…in the world…or, that you have ever known. He makes this claim as though racism is measured in degrees, such that, by his lights, one can be more or less racist depending on….what exactly?
Yet, I’m certain that when a large portion of so-called “white” people hear Trump’s “least racist” trope and disclaimer, they nod in tacit understanding, if not complete agreement. This demonstrates a fundamental and likely willful ignorance and determined misunderstanding of the deep history, nature, extent, and, crucially, the systemic, institutional and structural character of white supremacy/white racism.
The racism of slaveholders of old, or of the Jim and Jane Crow lynch mobs in the not-so-distant past versus the Trump family’s refusal to lease apartments to black people in the 1970s an ’80s, are of a piece, a whole piece. They differ only in questions of form and format — not of degree. The ultimate objective and effect is the same in all cases — the dehumanization of black people. That’s the point of white racism/white supremacy — beyond its obvious underlying political, economic, social and cultural power dynamics. The absolute denial of black peoples’ membership in the human family is the first and quintessential step Europeans and their North American cousins must take in validation of their “whiteness,” and thus their “superiority.”
Trump’s leadership of the “Birther Movement” against ex-president Obama played into immense swaths of white peoples’ rock-hard belief that Obama’s presumed, indeed obvious, illegitimacy was representative of all black people: We are not and, more importantly, can never be “real Americans” because we are not and can never be “white.” To Trump and the people who follow him, it does not matter what achievements black people make in the white world (and certainly not in the black world), our skin color renders us as the singularly cursed, irredeemable, and forever “other.”
As for those black conservatives and any black people who support Trump, one need only look at the recent spectacle of black forgiveness on full display during the Botham Jean/Amber Guyger murder trial just concluded in Dallas, Texas.
There we saw the perfect exemplar of what many researchers have dubbed the ”Post-Traumatic Slavery Syndrome.” This is the theory that most, if not all, of the “pathologies” exhibited by today’s black descendants of slavery are rooted in the reality of that five-centuries-long horror and terror.
Obviously, black debasement and dehumanization did not end when slavery ended. Beginning in the immediate aftermath of slavery’s official end, a virulent, vengeful, pervasive and still ongoing post- and neo-slavery trauma was systematically inflicted upon and waged against black people — a system which, for all practical purposes, replicated and reproduced the exact same conditions and circumstances blacks had been forced to endure during actual, open and “legal” slavery itself.
We as a people still suffer from that half-millenium-long and continuing psychic, physical, spiritual and emotional, economic and material devastation. Whether it is called “Post-Traumatic Slavery Syndrome,” an updated iteration of the “Stockholm Syndrome,” or any other high-brow academic terminology, the effect is the same: Many black people — far, far, far too many of us — even after all of these years, still really do believe that “the white man’s ice is colder.”