There’s an ugly thought going around the churches and class rooms of cynical black liberals who have decided to give up on America. “This country always elects a representation of itself. It’s a racist, sexist, hateful place and that’s why Trump won. He isn’t like us, he’s like them.”
I’ve heard it from my friends, my family, and my teacher who I usually view as a symbol of what is beautiful about this country. She wasn’t raised in an environment that valued education, but through her determination and encouragement from her own teachers, she grew to become a socially aware black woman who does her best to inspire her students to be civically minded with a positive (but realistic) view of their world. She’s given me a new appreciation of my blackness, and why what we do in our community matters. Yet even she has adopted this them against us mentality, them being Trump and his voters. In the event that she, or any despondent black liberal reads this, recall the following.
Here’s why, for couple reasons, he is us.
Minorities distrusted government & political parties way before it was cool
Remember when the Government followed through on its promise to protect minorities from discrimination, to ensure that we had equal opportunities for education, employment, and voting? Yeah, me neither!
Oh, or when it became obvious that the criminal justice system suffered from institutionalized racism that adversely affected minorities, so the government enacted the reforms necessary to ensure justice for all? Can’t seem to recall that one either.
Well surely, everyone remembers how the Democratic Party has addressed our concerns as a reward for near total loyalty, while Republicans also refrained from using our mere existence as a dog whistle to rally racists? Nope, drawing a blank there.
If none of this rings a bell for you either, it’s because it shouldn’t. There is a reason that while white trust in government often surpasses 50%, black trust in government has failed to even break 45% in the last 40 years, even with a black President. That is because years of broken promises, having our leaders investigated or assassinated, and being labeled “welfare queens” by one party, then “super predators” by the other..suffice it to say has eroded away our confidence. Then of course, there’s the lack of responsiveness to police shootings and misconduct, which deserve something more than a strongly worded letter from the DOJ.
The media hates us and the feeling is mutual
It’s always baffled us why republicans call the media, the “liberal media” That and the constant rallying against Hollywood for being too liberal and not respecting traditional American values.
From our perspective, we just don’t see it.
A liberal media would suggest some commitment to diversity, objective coverage of issues, and a progressive policy view. Those all-white panels on the networks debating whether “rap culture” is entirely or just mostly responsible for black people’s problems, or seeming to find time to run dozens of stories about black on black crime but not the declining state of our public school system. That’s not exactly our idea of liberal.
The Flint water crisis is still a thing, that a 56% black city, as of the writing of this article, still does not have clean drinking water. Buzzfeed somehow manages to find the time to write front page articles about how Trump, allegedly, has a urine fetish, but hasn’t published a full article on Flint in weeks.
Black Lives do Matter, but anyone might be forgiven for not knowing this since the disparities in policing and the racist criminal justice system are presented as a hypothesis rather than fact. One wouldn’t expect CNN to invite two pundits on to debate gravity, giving each side equal validity. That would be ridiculous, so why does it happen over whether or not a Black Lives Matter is a cop-killing hate group?
Furthermore, the idea that Hollywood doesn’t promote traditional American values is also pretty laughable. What is more traditionally American than excluding minorities from important roles, instead delegating them to non-threatening stereotypes that make the majority feel comfortable?
Hollywood seems to love black slaves, black criminals, black maids, black butlers. On occasion they love black female rocket scientists, but not enough to give them a Golden Globe.
Then there’s Trump’s message
Minorities and Trump probably don’t align on many…most…hardly any issues. However, we can definitely relate to the message of, “The media is out of touch, the government is corrupt, and the parties are run by elitists.” It might be too simplistic, but it’s not something that we can disagree with. It’s a large part of who we are, learning to support each other because we can’t rely on the government. Being forced to create our own networks and publications because of being left out by the mainstream media.
Does Donald Trump understand black people? The answer is almost certainly no. Let’s be clear, at worst he’s a bigot and at best he just pretends to be. Neither are ideal. He’s what would happen if Citizen Kane hated immigrants, had small hands, and didn’t get caught with that singer. He shouldn’t have ever been elected.
But do we understand parts of Trump? On some deep cultural level, our experience in this country would suggest yes. It’s easy to talk about how we’re different, it’s harder to accept how in some ways we are not.