Trump

trumpprotest

President Obama accomplished a great deal but not as much as he should have. One critical component was missing from Obama’s presidency: you. Us, to be more precise. We failed to raise hell and broadcast Obama’s shortcomings, in the same way we call attention to Trump’s missteps. We look for opportunities to jab the “other” side and hold them accountable but when our side falls short, we are dangerously silent. This would be a different country if progressives at large and black people in particular had sought out opportunities to correct Obama in the same way we now seek confrontation with Trump. Had that energy, fire and protest existed the last eight years, America–and especially black America–might have been made great again.

The phone lines are jammed at the offices of several senators because many are fighting to block Trump’s nomination for Secretary of Education. But where was the outrage when Obama appointed a friend of Wall Street to head the FBI, all but guaranteeing that no one responsible for the financial crisis of 2008 would be prosecuted? We scream in terror when considering what a Trump presidency will mean for “the blacks” economically but said not a word when the Obama administration closed all five regional Offices of the Minority Business Development Agency. Those offices existed to help minority-owned businesses in their region navigate the federal contracting landscape and become more competitive but to save $30 million, they were sacrificed and we said nothing. I guess it was because Obama was on our side of the aisle. 

I am no fan of George W. Bush but he did more to fight HIV and AIDS in Africa than any President had before. Obama threatened that progress when he cut funds from a highly effective program aimed at combatting the HIV/AIDS crisis on the continent. Once again, we were silent. It is especially disappointing that people of African descent (like the author) raised no hell in response to this. Is it possible that we would have given “W” a pass if he’d done the same? Not likely. He’s a Republican, after all and we apparently think that being an engaged citizen means only protesting when the other side is in power. This brand of selective civic participation limited the prospects for “Hope and Change.” We had the opportunity of a lifetime and we failed to maximize it, choosing instead to blindly root for our team.

It is without question that Obama was hindered by a Republican opposition determined to see him fail. I would also argue, however, that a base of supporters unwilling to protest its own leadership is also a hindrance. Do we honestly believe that the same vigor in protest and democratic muscle we have shown thus far toward Trump, if pointed toward Obama for eight years, would not have produced better results? Black and white, Democrat and Republican, we are all guilty. We cheer for our team and remain silent when it fails to live up to its ideals. We watch the other side like hawks, hoping for any misstep. Perhaps if we gave the same hawkish glare to all power structures we would have a more perfect union.

womensmarch

No one cares if your car needs an oil change. No one but you, that is. A few mechanics might show some interest but only because they can benefit financially. You are the one person on the planet truly concerned about your engine oil. This simple truth helps us understand the white women who turned out in record numbers to march the day after the inauguration. Friends asked me why those same women did not turn out for Sandra Bland and frankly, the question is a silly one. For the millions of white women who marched after Trump’s election, the death of a black woman in the custody of police had no personal impact. Waiting for them to care is like waiting for me to come change your oil. Self determination must be the goal, this is but a reminder.

More than 2 million women across the world marched in direct response to Trump’s election. Trump represents a step backward in women’s rights and as such, they marched. Did Sandra Bland’s killing–and that of the many black women who have died at the hands of police–not represent a step backward? Not for the majority of the white women who participated in the March. Those killings did not register as their problem. This could have been predicted. We should remember that Trump was not regarded as universally disgusting to women (read white women) when he launched his campaign, regularly insulting Muslims and Mexicans. It was only after Trump was caught on tape bragging about sexual assault against white women that the “women’s vote” was assumed to be out of his reach. Muslims and Mexicans, your oil change, all the same.

You could argue that I should care about your oil change. Perhaps I will need a ride from you in the near future. If your engine fails while driving, I might end up in a fatal car accident with you. I should care about your oil change but I just don’t. Rather than wasting time trying to convince me to care about your car, you simply take the initiative to get your oil changed. This is precisely what black people must continue to do, daily. Allies are great but we should waste no time trying to convince people to care. Nothing in American history indicates that millions of white women would, collectively, turn out for a black woman who died at the hands of police. The challenges of black people–and black women in particular–have always been met with indifference and that will not change tomorrow. Therefore, we must commit to work toward self determination, today.

It is unfortunate that black women cannot count on their white counterparts to be consistent allies but I would be inconsistent if I did not point out that black men have also failed the ally test. If we are completely honest, we cannot fathom an entire movement being launched by the deaths of black women at the hands of police. That Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin were men certainly helped other black men become active in the Black Lives Matter movement (which was largely launched by black women). As a black man, I struggle with the implications of this. Should we be lumped into the category of people black women cannot trust as true allies? This is the question black men must wrestle with and immediately answer. Until now, the question had scarcely been raised.

michele

Spike Lee announced that he would not be using Chrisette Michele’s song “Black Girl Magic” in his upcoming Netflix series. The reason? Michele had decided to perform for Trump (although she ultimately did not). Facing a strong current of white supremacy in America, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of blackballing someone because they sing at an inauguration. True, Michele and her “boycotting is not the answer” self is no Angela Davis but her performance at Trump’s inauguration isn’t holding us back as a people. A herd mentality that draws our focus to the surface and not the substantive is holding us back. Black people are diverse and should be allowed to think differently, so long as we are all committed to our progress as a race. Not sharing that commitment should get you blackballed, not singing a song.

So what, Michele wanted to perform at the inauguration. Our herd mentality, predictably, strongly reacts to that and we drag her. We did the same thing when she wrote her letter on the Black Lives Matter movement a while back. She said some questionable things but she also said a great deal that would be helpful, like encouraging people to attend city hall meetings. Why didn’t anyone rush to promote those parts? As soon as we hear something we don’t like, we discount all else and that is not helpful. Conservative or liberal, we all have some insight that would ultimately help us attain power as a people and that should be our focus, not blackballing each other. Sadly, the herd mentality just won’t allow for that level of thoughtful analysis. Most tragic, the surface level bickering distracts us from the substantive and that pattern of oversight has real and very damaging consequences. While we are blasting Michele for not hating Trump enough, countless other black celebs get a pass for being “woke” but do nothing to help us advance as a race.

How many black celebrities are actively creating opportunities for black people? How many invest their money with black owned investment firms? Is “Black Twitter” dragging anyone because they don’t do these things? We have enough entertainers and athletes that, if all were intentional about it, progress could be attained much more quickly. Love or hate him, LeBron James gets a lot of this right. Behind his billion dollar empire is his management team, once dubbed the “Four Horsemen.” They grew up together in Akron and rather than just hang out in clubs, LeBron decided that they would all learn the business world together and run his empire. Maverick Carter, his business manager and Rich Paul, his agent, are now giants in the business world. They are black men who earn millions every year and employ others. LeBron used his gifts as an athlete to create black wealth and impact his community. The celebs that do not possess enough commitment to their people to mimic LeBron are the ones we should be blackballing. Their actions help to perpetuate unemployment in our community, not Michele’s performance.

We do not live in an authoritarian state. We should be free to differ with each other and still work together to build up our community, without being blackballed. Plenty of white Hillary supporters probably don’t like Tom Brady’s love affair with Trump but he isn’t being thrown off of white people island, either. What black people should not tolerate are the celebs who are not committed to the values that will actually create black power. We should not tolerate black entertainers who take our dollars but don’t use them to create more opportunities for our community or even hire their own people. That should ignite “Black Twitter,” not a song.

 

trump-supporters

We can stop examining the exit polls and crunching the numbers. Sure, the white working-class had anxieties about the economy but so did poor people of color, who did not vote for Trump. This was about racism. Donald Trump embraced white supremacy and created a home for racial violence throughout his campaign. Millions of Americans (read white people) saw that, understood none of it impacted them personally and chose to vote for Trump. The harm that may come to Latinos, transgender persons or others threatened by a Trump administration will be a direct result of the indifference shown by 60 million Trump voters. The impending suffering of others did not concern millions of Americans enough to stop it. That is precisely what racism looks like in the real world.

trumpDetroit

On Saturday Donald Trump visited a black church in Detroit. Trump’s visit made this much clear: the black church is a weak shell of itself. In an age where churches struggle for relevancy and politicians only stop by for votes, black pastors are willing to give Donald Trump (or Hillary Clinton) the floor for camera time and the illusion of access to circles of power. Rather than an institution that terrorizes the powerful with its message of truth and justice, the black church has been reduced to chasing the spotlight of “whosever will” come through the doors. Dr. King would roll in his grave.

trump convention

Yes, Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for President. Yes, he is the same man who says utterly ridiculous, xenophobic and misogynistic things on the hour. No, he has never pretended to offer any substantive policy proposals to fix anything and yet here we are. Amazingly, Trump did not get here by force nor through some extortionist scheme. Millions of people actually went out to primaries and willingly voted for him. We keep pretending that isn’t true and ignoring this inconvenient fact will be our downfall. We are a nation stupid enough, ignorant enough and hateful enough to vote for this man. Defeating him this fall won’t fix that problem.

frank-underwood

I binge on House of Cards every time Netflix drops a season: don’t judge me, you don’t know my life. Frank Underwood is a shrewd, evil genius that happens to be in politics. Frank rose from Congressman (Majority Whip) all the way to President in about five minutes, employing betrayal, manipulation, deceit and even murder: by any means necessary. Oddly enough, his rise to the presidency was literally prompted by nothing more than a chip on his shoulder, after not receiving a nod for Secretary of State. It was not a grand vision for the country or passion to help the oppressed that motivated Frank, simply the desire to be great and be acknowledged. Men that desire power, void of vision, are dangerous and unprincipled. Frank has proven that and I suspect Trump will also.

trump2

There was lead in the water but the government continually denied any health risks to the city’s residents. Only the persistence of a Virginia Tech professor brought the truth to light. I’m not talking about Flint, Michigan, by the way. Rather, I’m referring to our nation’s capital: Washington, DC.

DONALD-TRUMP

Governor George Wallace of Alabama is most known for his 1963 inaugural speech in which he said, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever!” Wallace was a segregationist and under his administration, several civil rights workers were brutalized and killed as a result of his apathy.