Trump’s four-year mantra to Black voters, people like me, has been “what do you have to lose?” He has proclaimed it loudly since the summer of 2016 to all who will listen. Trump has stepped up that refrain in recent months, saying, “I have done more for Black Americans than any President, maybe with the exception of Abraham Lincoln.”
What about old Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson to name a few? Each of those presidents dramatically expanded opportunity and freedom for African Americans in ways Trump couldn’t imagine (he might have to read a book). More than that, in his efforts to attract Black support, Trump has assailed “Democratic run” cities as hotbeds of crime, joblessness, and mayhem. And challenged Black voters to give him a shot. After all, what do we have to lose?
The problem for Trump is this: He has spent the last four years grimly answering that question. His Cabinet is the first clue about who Donald J. Trump is. His overwhelmingly male, white, wealthy Cabinet is the least diverse since Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s. With just three people of color, and four women, including the CIA Director. Most damaging and last, Trump has appointed over 200 judges to the federal bench, with less than 10 percent being of color. And the majority of the minority judges are Asian, not Black or Latino. Trump is the first president in decades not to nominate a Black judge to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
He does not support “Black Lives Matter”; will not even utter the words. And he does not believe there is any systemic racism in America or in American policing. In fact, he has gone out of his way to stoke the fires of racism during recent months as protests erupted in several American cities over racial injustice or police abuse against Black citizens. He has attacked peaceful Black and white protesters alike, calling them anarchists, thugs, and worse. Scaring white suburbanites that if Joe Biden is elected, scary Black Senator Cory Booker will be running HUD and will allow thugs to move in and destroy their white suburban peace. Trump forgets that Black people live in the suburbs too.
But of all the grievous and ghoulish things he has done to hurt the Black community, it is his piss-poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that has hurt our community the most. I lost an aunt to COVID-19 in May. I have countless Black friends, cousins, sorority sisters, church friends and the like who have lost loved ones to the virus. We know for a fact that COVID-19 has had a disproportionately devastating impact on the Black community due to pre-existing health conditions like obesity, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
Yes, Trump can say he met with HBCU presidents, and one of his signature “wins” for Blacks was the new bipartisan criminal justice reform bill and “opportunity zones” in cities that, in fact, have been a boon for wealthy white developers.
And, this past week, he’s made clear that for everything we’ve already lost, there’s much more for us to lose in a Trump second term. Last Friday, the Trump administration announced it was canceling “race sensitivity” training, calling it “un-American Propaganda.” In doing this, Trump once again assails the gains Black people have made in the federal workforce, and he has openly chosen to sanction fear and division. Diversity studies show time and time again that white Americans do not like so-called “sensitivity training.” According to some studies, it can build resentment and when we look at the empirical data from the last 20 years since Clinton’s push for One America in 1998, corporate America and industry have simply failed to increase the number of racial minorities in senior jobs and positions. Trump and his ilk have canceled such training out of a deep cynicism and need to keep his base happy. He does not want an American conversation on race. He does not want healing. And he is willing to risk generations of steady progress and advancement in the federal sector for Black people.
Worse than that is what Trump proposes to do to federal housing laws. In July, the Trump administration also announced that it would roll back Obama era guidelines on Fair Housing in what appears to be a direct appeal to white suburban voters. It is reminiscent of his racist practices as a landlord in New York in the 1970s. Trump and his family were fined by the Federal government for housing discrimination against Black people.
If all of this were not enough, Trump refuses to support the reauthorization of the Votings Rights Act of 1965, as every president has done, including every Republican president since that time. I could go on and on about how bad this president is not just for America, but for Black Americans specifically. Donald Trump neither likes nor cares about Black people.
The data does not lie. Black unemployment right now is at 16, Black poverty and hunger at record highs. Racism at the hands of policemen, systemic bias; the killing of Black men and women right before our eyes on video tape. This is Trump’s America. This is the threat he poses to our lives, and our bodies as Black people in America. Let this election serve as a reminder of all we have to lose if we vote for Donald Trump.