Now that Donald Trump is the president-elect, it’s time to actually examine his policies, including those for the black community. For anyone who forgot, Trump’s relationship with black people isn’t exactly stellar. The Justice Department sued him for racial discrimination, he called for the Central Park Five’s execution and still thinks they’re guilty, and he defended New York’s old stop and frisk policies that discriminated against black people while doing little to reduce crime in New York City. So any deal he has for the black community must be analyzed with a critical eye. With that said, feel free to review his plan, but a couple points jump out right away.
Trump’s plan mentions civil rights three times. First he says school choice is “the great civil rights issue of our time.” Then he says, “We will restore the civil rights of African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and all Americans, by ending illegal immigration.” While it is admirable to care about civil rights for the black community, one must wonder why he hasn’t touched racial profiling or police violence, especially considering how often he used Chicago as a talking point during his campaign. Surely, with black people getting shot more often per capita than white by law enforcement, jailed more often than white, and incarcerated longer than white, law enforcement’s relationship with black people in America is a great civil rights issue, and yet it goes ignored.
Safety is the third civil right in Trump’s plan for black communities, and that may explain why he avoids discussing police brutality. In typical tough-on-crime fashion, he vows to “invest in training and funding both local and federal law enforcement operations to remove the gang members, drug dealers, and criminal cartels from our neighborhoods.” On the surface this is fine. Who can disagree with removing crime? The problem lies in the fact that he implies what he has said about black people during his whole campaign; that we all live in dangerous neighborhoods (dangerous because of us) that need heavy police patrolling. This is a propaganda strategy so old Malcolm X disparaged it:
“The police are able to use [the press] to paint the Negro community as a criminal element. The police are able to use the press to make the white public think that 90 percent, or 99 percent, of the Negroes in the Negro community are criminals, and once the white public is convinced that most of the Negro community is a criminal element, then this automatically paves the way for the police to move into the Negro community, exercising Gestapo tactics, stopping any black man who is on the sidewalk, whether he is guilty or whether he is innocent, whether he is well-dressed or whether he is poorly-dressed; whether he is educated or whether he is dumb; whether he’s a Christian or whether he’s a Muslim. As long as he is black and a member of the Negro community, the white public thinks that the white policeman is justified in going in there and trampling on that man’s civil rights and on that man’s human rights. ”
Yes, X’s views come from a time period of great racial segregation, but keep in mind this “new deal” comes from someone who approves of stop and frisk, still thinks five proven-innocent black men should be executed, and has a running mate who thinks we should stop talking about racial bias in law enforcement because it seizes “upon tragedy in the wake of police-action shootings as a reason to use a broad brush.” Mike Pence has not researched, or cared about, implicit bias, and based on his plan, neither has Trump. And yet they want to flood predominantly black communities with more police while keeping everyone else dumb to racial bias in law enforcement. Again, X already covered this:
“Once the police have convinced the white public that the so-called Negro community is a criminal element, they can go in and question, brutalize, murder unarmed innocent Negroes and the white public is gullible enough to back them up. This makes the Negro community a police state. This makes the Negro neighborhood a police state. It’s the most heavily patrolled. It has more police in it than any other neighborhood. Yet it has more crime in it than any other neighborhood. How can you have more cops and more crime? Why? It shows you that the cops must be in cahoots with the criminals.”
When one considers that Trump’s campaign accepted money from the GEO Group and private prison stocks surged upon his election, it’s hard to believe this “safety” initiative is truly about keeping black people out of harms way or that his stance on illegal immigration is actually about helping black people compete for work. The United States has the highest prison population in the world for a reason, and it’s a combination of systematic racism and capatalism, a toxic combination that Trump is apt at perpetuating. The private prison companies likely stand to benefit from Trump’s increased police presence in black communities and mandatory minimum sentences for undocumented immigrants. This plan is an attempt at convincing black people that they benefit from them as well.
Trump’s plan says that it won’t be a “two-tiered system” and “equal justice also means the same rules for Wall Street,” but if that were true, where is the language about increased law enforcement on Wall Street? Does he not believe any black people could possibly be working there, and thus shouldn’t be concerned with the details; or does he think black people are stupid enough to believe that the rules are equal when his plan shows explicit unequal thought in enforcing them? Time will tell, and popular opinion among conservatives is to give him a chance, even if it’s a chance to lock up more black and brown people. The ACLU, Bernie Sanders and Angela Merkel’s approaches seem more apt. Cautious optimism is only reasonable when a racist campaigner becomes the Commander-in-Chief.
Stay critical, my friends.
Photo credit: U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection, Library of Congress.