What the Trump administration portends for Black AmericaBy Barrington M. Salmon -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Dec 29, 2016 - 9:31:32 AM
If President-Elect Donald Trump is judged by his dizzying array of pronouncements during the recent concluded U. S. presidential campaign, then Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, progressives, the legal community, civil rights advocates and other constituencies have reason to be concerned over what life under a President Trump might look like.
Mr. Trump targeted people who are not White and Christian, beginning on the day more than 18 months ago when he announced his intention to run for president. During that address, he described Mexicans coming to the U.S. as rapists and murderers and he subsequently took turns denouncing, insulting and offending Blacks and other people of color, women, gays and lesbians and the disabled.
The business tycoon promised to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S.; pledged to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants; vowed to institute a rigorous monitoring and surveillance system for Muslims seeking to come to the United States; swore to repeal Obamacare; and made other promises and guarantees that don’t bode well for those who aren’t White.
Because of the nature of his campaign—which is acknowledged to be one of the most divisive and deeply racist runs for office in recent memory and because it was clear to most that he was unqualified—Mr. Trump was expected to be routed by Democratic challenger Hillary Rodham Clinton. But in what political pundits and observers call the most stunning upset in American political history, Mr. Trump beat Mrs. Clinton, taking a little more than 300 Electoral College votes but losing the popular vote by more than 2.8 million ballots.
The shock of Mr. Trump’s surprise win on Election Day is slowly sinking in and the realization of the implications, and all of what that means for Blacks and other groups will be fully revealed over time.
All over the country, in cities, towns and in living and dining rooms, concerned citizens and activists have been meeting not just to commiserate but to strategize and organize effective and widespread grassroots resistance to Trump over the next four years and administration policies that would injure or harm them and the country.
“The elections were a catastrophe,” said Prof. Gerald Horne at a recent discussion convened in D.C. after the election. “In the exit polls, 53 percent of educated White women voted for a confessed sexual predator. Trump ran the table getting the support of Whites across the spectrum. This election shows that voter suppression works ... male supremacy and White supremacy are driving forces.”
“We need a new story, we need a new narrative.”
For Prof. Horne and other academics and activists, Mr. Trump’s election is a warning that they must move with all deliberate speed to formulate and firm up a united popular front. Tony Regusters, a science fiction writer, documentary filmmaker and Afro Futurist, said he stands squarely on the frontlines of resistance to a Trump presidency.
“What this amounts to in terms of Black people in the U. S. and throughout the African Diaspora is a wake-up call. If there ever was a sign from God to get ourselves together, it’s now,” asserted Mr. Regusters, a retired veteran and former journalist. “If people ignore that, submit to fear, and allow ourselves to be steamrolled, we’re dead.”
Mr. Regusters said as much as he respects and appreciates Obama, he “sat in the White House like a Black Buddha” afraid to upset White people by enacting laws and other measures that would have significantly improved the lot of Blacks and other people of color.
“They have done every evil wicked thing to him,” he said of President Obama’s Republican, Tea Party opponents and other critics. “I appreciate the man. He went through hell. So many Black people have been killed by cops. They couldn’t get to him, but they got to us. The state hasn’t prosecuted the vast majority of these cops and (U.S. Attorney General) Loretta Lynch just mouthed the party line.”
“Trump did say what do we have to lose as he talked to us from White communities. We have nothing to lose because we have nothing.”
Like Prof. Horne and a wide cross-section of Black and Latino organizers, activists and politicians and their allies, Mr. Regusters said the time is now.
“We have to organize, toughen up, get our minds focused, and create the energy of the anticolonial movement in Africa, the Uprising Diasporan movement in the Caribbean, and the civil rights movement. If we don’t do this, we’re dead,” he said.
Blacks, Mr. Regusters said, are at a disadvantage because everyone is scattered across this country’s 3.75 million square miles.
“We’re so spread out as opposed to those people living in island nations with pride, tradition, and everybody knows everybody,” he noted. “We have been under the thumbs of these devils forever. They say he’s (Trump’s) the president but he’s not my president.”
Dr. Ava Muhammad, a Chicago-based attorney, student minister and national spokesperson for Min. Louis Farrakhan, said she has a philosophical approach to Trump’s victory.
“I wasn’t certain he would prevail but I’m not surprised Trump won. As Min. Farrakhan noted, Trump tapped into the nerve center of a very disgruntled White populace. This nation was built on a doctrine of White supremacy. Contrary to what we see on TV, America is highly divided racially to this day. Many White people, particularly older White people, have a fear that the country they grew up in is changing.
“There’s an infusion of Brown people, a continuing presence of Red people, and an influx of Asians. They feel they are held captives of political correctness and are forced to follow a protocol. Trump released all this in his mannerisms and comments.”
Dr. Muhammad said Black people have been trapped between Democrats and Republicans, both parties rooted and steeped in racist histories and who have never seen Blacks as real allies.
“It’s been profoundly disappointing for Black people. Democrats are very aggressive in seeking our vote and we really have nothing to show for it,” Dr. Muhammad explained. “Blacks were always disappointed in this presidency. This largely is not his (President Obama’s) fault. He was openly opposed by Democrats and Republicans. No inroads were made, there is violence by police and against each other. It is a deplorable economic situation.”
“Trump pointed it out. I don’t think anyone could disagree. A lot of us took it wrong. Yes, a few of us have escaped, but the conditions for most of us is shameful and unacceptable.”
These circumstances make the times ripe for separation Min. Farrakhan has said in a number of interviews, public statements and speeches.
Dr. Muhammad said Black people can no longer act as if they are ignorant about the intentions of the political elite and the wealthy who are on the verge of making this country a plutocracy where the wealthy have almost complete control of the levers of power.
“The beauty of the outcome of the election is that we see things so clearly. The wealthy took over the government a long time ago. Now they’re letting you see it,” she said. “It’s inconvenient, troubling and annoying to have to hide. Now they don’t have to cut out holes in their hoods.”
Dr. Muhammad added that the Nation of Islam’s work, in this new political environment, takes on added currency.
“We have to become more focused on program thrusts and less focused on the evangelistic aspect of our work,” she said. “The work includes the spreading of truth as we see it. We’ve saturated the Black community with truth as we see it but we need to create a (different) model or template.
Black people are emotionally and spiritually connected to the U. S. We have a duty to teach our people better. They think we’re talking about an exodus when people just pick up their bags and belongings and march to the edge of the Atlantic where boats will come and take them away.”
“The truth is that they are invested and were prime builders of this nation.”
It still remains true that the N.O.I. wants a separate state or territory of its own. And because of the myriad failures of America’s social, economic and political system as it applies to Black people, as well as the questionable results of integration, more and more people are drawn to Min. Farrakhan’s message of economic self-sufficiency, independence and selfdetermination.
Mr. Regusters concurred.
“I want to ensure that Black people are thriving, a force independent of White power. We need to be going into the 21st century as a powerful entity connected to Canada, with all our folks in the Caribbean, Brazil and the Asia-Pacific rim,” he said. “We forget or don’t realize that African Americans in the West are powerful. We have the education, BLACK AMERICA 2016: A look back energy and technology expertise. We don’t have to stand in line, waiting.”
“We should be hiring people, enhancing the life of other people around us. It is your duty if you come into success in your own life to pull people up, mentor young people. You need to show that you’re a leader, send young people to school, lift them up. And don’t let me talk about those preachers. Why aren’t they buying property, creating factories, involved in import-export, working to get jobs for their parishioners? They aren’t doing the work of Jesus, for them it’s ‘just-us.’ ”
Yet despite his disgust with Trump, Mr. Regusters believes that he could produce for Black people.
“There may be opportunities for people in business,” he theorized. “He does have a sense of legacy and he wants to outdo Obama who didn’t want to upset White people who hated his ass. Trump has opened a Pandora’s Box of anti-Islamic thought, misogyny, sexism, anti-immigrant, racist pushback. But a lot of these White people are getting their asses kicked because they feel empowered to confront us with their racist comments and behavior. These are different Negroes out here. They have nothing to lose. They’ve lost everything so they’re not afraid.”
Although foreign policy doesn’t directly affect Blacks, Clark University Prof. Dr. Srinivasan Sitaraman says the policy implications for all Americans could be dire.
“The incoming administration does indeed look a bit unhinged; its foreign and security policy team is populated with ex-military types, oil tycoons, bankers, and conspiracy theorists, which in many ways suggests a lack of imagination because it seems to indicate, unfortunately, that aggressive military response is the most preferred option,” said Prof. Sitaraman, an expert and researcher in globalization and international political economy, human rights and Asian politics at Clark’s Department of Political Science in Worcester, Mass. "However, that might not be the only answer. I am concerned that they might not give diplomacy a chance.”
“Mostly I am very concerned about the attitude of the incoming administration towards the grave case of Russian hacking and interference in the U.S. elections. The incoming Trump administration has also demonstrated a strong inclination toward cozying up to Russian authoritarianism and has ignored allegations of Russian hacking as a conspiracy theory. More worrisome is that Russia’s blatant aggression and illegal annexation of Crimea and the invasion and civil war in Ukraine have been completely ignored. Instead, this incoming administration is fixated on China! It is my belief that Russia presents the biggest threat because of its expansive territorial mindset and because of its missile armory, and the land army threat it poses to Europe.”
Abroad and at home, Mr. Regusters said, Mr. Trump poses an extraordinary risk and endangers the life and well-being of humans globally.
“It’s gonna be a roller-coaster ride over the next four years. We need some leadership out here. I’m expressing outrage by people across the board. We need to stop playing all these games with one another. And we need to understand that there’s a bigger threat than Trump.”