The Broad Black Brush: Trump’s Stereotypical View Of African Americans
Community blog posts reflect the views of members of the Indianapolis community and does not speak for the views of the Desmond Tutu Center.
Over the past year we’ve all had a front row seat to the mind of Donald Trump. That mind, in all its vacuity, has consistently shown both a disregard and indeed a disdain not only for African Americans, but for all those in our country who don’t look like him. And by looking like him, I don’t mean a weird, creepy shade of orange, but rather those who don’t fall under the White Nationalistic view of America that he has co-opted. His words and actions reflect an Eeyore like ignorance of the Black experience here in America. But what is even more offensive are the laughable attempts at placating our community with token, shiny black pennies that bear no relevance in the greater attempt at advancement and equality.
“Even if you in a Benz, you still a nig*** in a coupe”
Those were the words of Kanye West in his 2004 hit “All Falls Down”. Ironic that those prophetic lyrics, which illustrate the one-dimensional way that African Americans are oftentimes viewed, were uttered by someone who recently allowed himself to be co opted by the President in a way that furthered this stereotype. He, along with Jim Brown, Don King, Ray Lewis, and now Steve Harvey have all been paraded out to the cameras by Donald Trump as a way of signaling “concern” for communities of color. I ain’t buyin’ it. Nor should you. This notion that a conversation, followed by a two minute photo op/pseudo press conference, with football players, rappers, and comedians will somehow convey concern for communities of color is false. Not just false, but offensive.
What substantive information can Donald Trump learn from Kanye West about the state of Black America? Given the fact that when they met, Kanye had just been released from a mental institution. Can Steve Harvey tell Trump “we’ve got real problems Mr. President. Problems with police, with jobs, etc.?” Sure he could say that, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that. But could Harvey or West speak substantively about the problems in our community? Could he teach President Trump about “intersectionality”- how horrific it can be for our community when poverty, race, and the criminal justice system “intersect”? Can Ray Lewis speak to him with substance about how systemic barriers in our educational system feed the school to prison pipeline? C’mon now…
Remember that scene in the movie Ghost where Patrick Swayze is telling Whoopi Goldberg what to say to Demi Moore? He goes on and on about how careful she has to be, how vicious those people are, how the killers are still around. Blah, Blah, Blah… Remember Whoopi summarized it by saying: “Molly, you in danger girl”… Well, we already know that. And even if we didn’t know it, simply “revealing” the danger isn’t doing anything to substantively address the it or understand where it’s coming from. That is representative of the conversations I’m certain that happened between President Trump and these men. Nothing meaningful, nothing helpful, and nothing productive. Just a bunch of talking points that we already know:
-Trump: “what can you tell me about the black community?”
-Steve Harvey: “Mr. President, we in danger girl!!”
Think genuinely about this for a second. When wanting to learn more about our intelligence apparatus, President Trump met with Michael Hayden, former Director of both the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency. When he wanted to learn more about our military and its issues he met with men like Jack Keane and David Petraeus. When attempting to learn more about how Washington politics works, he met with Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Reince Preibus and the like. People who could speak substantively about the various aforementioned subjects. But when dealing with issues in the African American community you call a couple football players, a comedian, and a rapper? Really??
It also shows the most blatant form of disrespect and disregard for African Americans. This notion, that we are all one simple, silly, monolithic group that can be understood and analyzed in such a simplistic form. If you genuinely thought that enlightenment would come from talking with Kanye West, what does that say about how you see us? His Twitter rant concerning Representative John Lewis and the affluent Atlanta area that he represents is indicative of this stereotypical view. After learning that Lewis had called his Presidency “illegitimate”, the President tweeted that John Lewis should focus on his “crime ridden” neighborhood in Georgia. Here’s the problem, Mr. Lewis’ district is anything but crime ridden. Solidly middle/upper class, with booming businesses and sprawling African American neighborhoods. Donald Trump knew nothing about John Lewis or the area he represented in Atlanta. But here’s the thing: HE DIDN’T HAVE TO. Because in TrumpWorld all Black people are living in crime, poverty, war zones and uneducated. See the monolithic brush he exposed in this ignorant Tweet? See the monolithic brush he exposed by meeting with Steve Harvey?
Michelle Alexander, Tim Wise, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Tavis Smiley, Deray Mckesson, and on and on and on. Those are the people who President Trump should be meeting with if there was a genuine concern about African Americans. People who will do what Michael Hayden, or General Petraeus did in their respective fields of expertise.
Along with the words of his song All Falls Down, Kanye also at one time, a while ago, emphatically stated: “GEORGE BUSH DOES NOT CARE ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE.” Well Yeezy, I don’t know about President Bush, but I do know about one other President who you were recently standing next to. If ever there was a time you should’ve gone off script, this was it.
About the Blogger:
Brishon was born and raised in Hammond, Indiana. He attended Indiana University, graduating in 1995. He then attended Grace College and Theological Seminary and finally finished with his MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management. In his spare time he enjoys reading, politics, and playing chess.