Mr. Donald Trump says he desires the black vote, but his behavior at Monday night’s first presidential debate was counter-intuitive to that goal. Rather than relay his plans and initiatives to improve the quality of life for African-Americans, the Republican nominee went on a diatribe against the crime in the cities in which many of them live, and then reiterated his plan to leverage stop-and-frisk, a policing tactic deemed unconstitutional, to quell the violence.
A rare presence in black communities, Mr. Trump during the debate characterized the aforementioned locations as hell, and said those who live there have been abused and used by politicians for votes. Unlike Mrs. Hillary Clinton, who on Monday spoke against the racial disparities in the American criminal justice, Mr. Trump turned down the opportunity to tout his plan for racial healing and instead talked about instituting law-and-order.
The term law-and-order is widely viewed by many African-Americans as code-language for a police state; or in other words, keeping black bodies in their ghettos and away from white property. It’s unclear whether Mr. Trump is aware of this history, but given his slogan – Make America Great Again, which is tantamount to a call for returning to the good ‘ole days where police officers weren’t second guessed and had sovereign powers – and the overall racially insensitive theme of his campaign, he probably does.
Mr. Trump didn’t have a good night on Monday. Besides not providing many coherent answers and being baited into frenzy by Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump was noticeably indignant towards issue of great importance to African-Americans.
On the Birtherism controversy, for example, Mr. Trump blurted “I say nothing” when asked by Mr. Lester Holt, the debate moderator, what his message is to the African-Americans who may have found his championing of the birther movement offensive. Further extending the narrative on the Birtherism story, which the Trump campaign has tried tirelessly to deflect from, was Mr. Trump labeling of Mr. Barack Obama, when speaking to Mrs. Clinton, as “your president.”
Despite what he did or didn’t do for the black community, the election of Mr. Obama to the presidency was a collective achievement for many African-Americans. Mr. Trump, who even after getting the President to produce his birth certificate still attempted to de-legitimize him, doesn’t appear to understand that, nor does he truly respect Mr. Obama, as proven by the way he often speaks about him, “your president” being just the most recent example.
Mr. Trump also neither understands the trauma associated with stop-and-frisk – it’s an extremely divisive policy that was used to intimidate and humiliate men and women of color – nor the limited reach a U.S. president has in the affairs of local policing. Beyond insulting countless African-Americans by misrepresenting the race as a monolith who’s barely surviving the dangerous streets they walk, Mr. Trump’s quick-fix-pitch is an insult to their intelligence. Sure, conditions aren’t great in many communities where mostly black people reside, but they also won’t be solved overnight and with bluster but rather overtime and with brainpower.
But much brainpower doesn’t appear to be used when Mr. Trump speaks; said another way: it’s likely he doesn’t think before he talks. The entire Trump campaign has an offensive aura attached to it, and no group, other than Whites, has been immune to its sting. On debate night, however, African-Africans were stung repeatedly and the hardest.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
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