On Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, in the suburbs of Detroit, one of the blackest cities in American history, Donald Trump asked this question to black America.
“What do you have to lose by trying something new, like Trump?
“What do you have to lose?
“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?”
On that day, Donald John Trump showed the world, and black people everywhere, what he thinks of us.
And that’s exactly what Trump thinks of black people unless they’re “his kind.” You know, the Omarosa Manigaults and Ben Carsons of the world.
Don’t believe me?
Let’s take a look back at what he said in June of 2016 when he was on the campaign trail.
“Oh, look at my African-American over here. Look at him.”
“My” implies ownership, which says a lot about how Trump and his supporters think. It’s also the reason why the “Twitter President” loves to focus his wrath on a certain group.
Hillary Clinton, the media and anybody who says or does something he disagrees with are targets, but not in the same way that Trump likes to go after black people. Specifically, those involved in the sports world.
Every person of color targeted by Trump on Twitter in the past few months has prominence. And the President has shown us that he isn’t a fan of “uppity” black people.
“There’s a class inflection to uppity today, and it follows that most of the black people Trump has attacked are well-off — he often needles his black opponents as ‘ungrateful’ for their stations,” wrote Vann R. Newkirk II recently for The Atlantic in a piece titled, “Donald Trump’s Eternal Feud With Blackness.”
“But his attacks serve the same purpose, regardless of the status of his targets. It’s not even clear whether he truly harbors animosity toward the people he targets or if he really knows much about them, but it’s undeniable that Trump knows exactly what these attacks do for him. He may have little appetite to master policy or struggle to manage his office, but Trump is a savant when it comes to knowing how to harness white resentment and hostility towards outspoken people of color. This is perhaps his most bankable skill, and unfortunately for those who open Twitter in the mornings, the one he uses most liberally.”
Trump has figured out a way to manipulate and pull the strings of his supporters masterfully. He’s Geppetto to their Pinocchio. He understands that a large share of white America somehow feels threatened by black people. The creator of the birther movement knows just how much eight years of Obama angered millions of Americans.
An October poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health discovered that 55 percent of white people feel that they are discriminated against, but yet somehow only 20 percent of them say they have actually experienced discrimination.
That flawed mind-set is the fuel that ignites Trump’s Twitter tirades against black people. And it’s so evident that even our neighbors up north in Canada can see it.
“Trump knows how well anti-black racism can work for him,” wrote Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star in his piece titled, “Trump picks another fight with a black sports figure. That’s no coincidence.”
“His entire career in Republican politics emerged out of a racist campaign to ‘prove’ the first black President was not born in America. Today, with few policy accomplishments to speak of, dumping on black people helps keep the bigoted portion of his base on his side.”
Jemele Hill, LaVar Ball, Marshawn Lynch, Colin Kaepernick and Steph Curry have all been in Trump’s Twitter crosshairs.
The only black person who is somehow remained Teflon is LeBron James, who hit him with maybe the most jarring quip of all when he minimized the leader of the free world to a “bum.”
However, there may be a reason why Trump hasn’t attacked James. A recent New York Times story detailed that since LeBron refused to stay at the Trump SoHo Hotel in New York City, at least 20 sports teams and other corporate clients that frequented the location have stopped coming. Last week, it was announced that a deal had been reached to take Trump’s name off the hotel, due to the faltering business.
But while black sports figures continue to be Trump’s prey, besides James, Trump has been silent when it comes to those who share his skin color.
Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich and Stan Van Gundy are the head coaches of the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and Detroit Pistons, respectively, and have been highly critical of Trump in the media for months.
Yet still, Trump hasn’t uttered, or typed, their names.
That’s because Trump only aims at the people who agitate his base. Trump and his supporters may be ignorant, but they aren’t stupid. They know who to respond to, and who to ignore.
From the Central Park Five to President Obama to Colin Kaepernick to Jemele Hill, and now LaVar Ball, Trump has always used racism to promote his agenda and keep his name in the headlines.
For decades, Trump has shown us what he thinks about black people.
And I’m willing to assure you that other minority groups, class levels and socioeconomic circles will soon find themselves as targets.
Donald Trump doesn’t want to make America great; he wants to destroy it.
Each day Trump remains in office, we get closer and closer to a tipping point that could have ramifications that would do great harm to all Americans, of every color.
So, what do we have to lose?
Everything, Mr. President.
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Carron J. Phillips