As we enter the final week of Black History Month and celebrate the remarkable achievements and contributions by Americans of African heritage, let’s also not forget the pitiful and transparent attempts by Trump and his regime to pander to these same citizens while making their lives worse.
It’s bad enough that this February began with Trump’s acquittal in the Senate of two impeachment charges. Everyone knew what the outcome would be before the trial began, which is a sad echo of the rigged trials of the Jim Crow South where generations of African Americans suffered merciless injustice. But Trump has also been crowing about the benefits of his “best ever” economy for African Americans when in fact he inherited a positively trending economy from the first African American President. Trump often cites employment growth and poverty reduction, but these positive trends were well underway when Trump took office thanks to Obama. In fact, according to the Washington Post, under Obama the economy grew faster, hiring grew faster, the S&P 500 grew faster, the unemployment rate shrunk faster and the national debt grew slower. So Trump’s constant lies about his economic performance and his grousing about comparisons to Obama are little more than an attack on the legacy of the first African American President and an insult to Black History.
Perhaps the low-point of the month came in Trump’s State of the Union address. First, he used an African American 4th grader from Philadelphia, Janiyah Davis, as a prop for a dishonest story about “opportunity scholarships,” claiming the girl was one of “tens of thousands” of students on an opportunity scholarship waiting list when in fact she was already in an exclusive and selective charter school called MaST III, which is taxpayer funded. Trump was clearly trying to sell voters the stereotyped message “look what I’m doing for this poor little Black girl” when in fact it was all a fiction.
Second, Trump singled out in the House chamber centenarian Charles McGee, one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen from WWII–while only moments later presenting the Medal of Freedom, our highest civilian award, to profligate bigot and racist Rush Limbaugh, whose abhorrent and divisive rhetoric has been poisoning our airwaves for three decades. If anyone deserves a medal, it’s McGee. And if anyone deserves our state-sanctioned denouncement and derision, it’s Limbaugh.
February 2020 was also the month the Trump regime’s increased travel ban went into effect, newly excluding the African nations of Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan and Tanzania, as well as Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan. These latest travel bans dredge up Trump’s notorious comment about “shit-hole” countries and underscore his administrations’ overarching hostility toward all immigrant and asylum seekers of color.
In the past, presidents held events and parties to celebrate Black History Month, while others gave speeches and some gave interviews, but this year Trump merely released a “proclamation” (clearly written by somebody else) and that was it. Meanwhile, Melania Trump posted a generic Tweet noting Black History Month and was roundly excoriated on social media. And is it any wonder? The Trump presidency has been a nightmare for African Americans. His divisive rhetoric and obvious dog-whistling coaxed ugly racist hostility from the American underbelly into the light and made our nation more dangerous and threatening for all people of color. He even employs an avowed white nationalist in his inner White House circle.
Trump is going to continue to lie about his economic achievements and his concern for the lives of African Americans while enacting vile policies that hurt and betray our citizens of color. But it remains clear that African American voters see through his BS and understand the grave danger he poses, with poll numbers confirming this fact. In a late-2019 Hill-HarrisX poll, 85% of black voters said they would vote for any Democrat over Trump. And that’s what it will take to send Trump packing in November. We will all have to vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is–no matter what.
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”