Trump: Not a President for Black America

9 months ago Alger Mag Editor 0

Donald Trump is experimenting.  With record low poll numbers among African Americans and a faltering national campaign, Trump has endeavored to reach out to them. He has added a segment to his stump speeches in which he speaks directly to African Americans with the illogical message, “You have nothing else to lose, so why not?” Naturally, a man who has made minimal effort to discover how life is experienced by others will believe their lives are desolate. 

Recently, while campaigning in the predominantly white suburb of Lansing, Michigan, Trump made his pitch. It is worth noting that he denied speech requests from the NAACP, National Urban League, and National Association of Black Journalists national conventions’, all which have audiences who are politically engaged in black communities and are traditionally attended by presidential candidates. Rather than speaking directly to African Americans about their problems at these venues, he chose to hold a rally in Lansing suburb Dimondale, Michigan, where he touched on issues relating to black youth unemployment, urban poverty, and educational imbalances.

“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?” Trump retorted as he continued his tirade on why the African American community is troubled and no other candidate but him will fix their problems. The statistic he cited was an extrapolation and was found not to match data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Trump has also stated that the crime rate within inner-cities is reaching ‘record levels’,  which is is completely untrue. As a matter of fact, the crime rate in America has been decreasing for the last twenty years. A 2015 study completed by researchers at New York University showed national crime figures were at historic lows. The analysis reads, “The average person in a large urban area is safer walking down the street today than he or she would have been at almost any time in the past 30 years.” Nonetheless, Trump’s proposed solutions include limiting refugees to provide more access to jobs for Americans, lowering taxes on small businesses, and bolstering programs that champion school-choice. At best, these fixes would be palliative in nature.

Trump has been a staunch advocate for reestablishing stop-and-frisk practices which were found unconstitutional in 2013. During the first presidential debate, the candidates were asked to explain how they would heal racial divides. Trump seemingly ignored the question and  leaped straight to ominous words of ‘law and order’. He further emphasized the supposed effectiveness of stop-and-frisk.  “You do stop and frisk, which worked very well…worked very well in New York. It brought the crime rate way down”. However, stop-and-frisk is detrimental to urban communities and weakens police-community relationships. A report from the NYCLU reads “No research has ever proven the effectiveness of New York City’s stop-and-frisk regime…While violent crimes fell 29 percent in New York City from 2001 to 2010, other large cities experienced larger violent crime declines without relying on stop and frisk abuses: 59 percent in Los Angeles, 56 percent in New Orleans, 49 percent in Dallas, and 37 percent in Baltimore.” Not only is stop-and-frisk futile, but it violates the constitution. The 2nd circuit court ruled that recurrent inequitable stops of Black and Latino men, by way of stop-and-frisk, violated their 4th and 14th amendment rights and thus needed to be overhauled. Often, NYPD officers stopped and frisked individuals who exhibited no reasonable suspicious behavior. Additionally, the court ruled that simply because a certain race tended to be in police departments’ suspect data did not mean officers could liken that race for general wrongdoing in the entire city.

The problem with Trump’s words are not, perhaps, his simplistic solutions to ingrained and systemic problems; rather, what is troubling are his beliefs which indicate a profound disconnect between him and reality. He has stated at multiple rallies that all African Americans are living in poverty. Yet, just over a quarter of African Americans are actually living in poverty. In the last few weeks, Trump has consistently said that 58% of African American youth are unemployed—a statistic that has been denounced by a sundry of researchers. Trump has extolled unlawful stop-and-frisk practices, which ignores the mortification plenty of law-abiding citizens were dealt as well as the long-term psychological effects of such an egregious policy. Imagine the thoughts running through children’s minds when they see their father being roughed up and his things being rummaged through by a police officer,  who they learned to view as a protector of the world  now searching the hoodie of the man they were just leaning on for support. Police officers are suppose to go after the bad guys, not innocent fathers. It is evident that Donald Trump cannot imagine this. He opts to traffic in stereotypes and vouch for banal policies, instead of learning about what life is like for other Americans.

Trump painting African American communities as the most devastated and dreaded places in the nation will not make America ‘win’ again. The logical steps to persuade a bloc of people that you care about their problems does not begin with excoriating their very image. It does not begin with claiming to have all the answers, suggesting that the countless leaders who tirelessly work on these problems simply do not possess the deal-making skills and intelligence like him. It does, however, start with a steadfast approach in acknowledging that he, alone can never solve entrenched multi-generational issues.

Trump regularly says that Democratic policies are the cause of the problems facing the African American community; thus, they should subscribe to his policies if they desire real change. Though Trump fails to realize African Americans overwhelmingly vote for Democratic candidates for legitimate reasons—progressive policies have had a positive and palpable effect in many blacks’ lives. From landmark civil rights legislation to sweeping changes in our healthcare system—the former which fundamentally altered the way of life for millions and the latter which has opened access to preventive services for over 7 million African Americans—the African American community is not supporting the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, because she includes a black woman in a television advertisement or parades to speak at a Black Baptist church. Clinton holds broad support among the African American community because of her actions and policies.

It is staggering that a candidate—whose idea concerning the state of Black America has little basis in facts—is weeks away from potentially securing the most powerful office in the world. It matters. A man that will have vast influence on whether civil rights and liberties are protected, modern police reforms come to fruition, and income racial disparities are ameliorated appears to be very misguided. When discussing Trump’s new outreach to African Americans, his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, stated that he ‘deserves credit’. As if an American presidential candidate somehow deserves a cachet for considering others. Trump has a lengthy route to travel if he truly wants to court the African American vote, and it starts with actually caring about African American issues.

 

by: Seph Brown