The Donald wants the Black vote. You have to give The Don points for cojones. He has the courage of his convictions. He is asking for the vote. It's a little early for a closing argument, but hey, The Don's doin' this campaigning thing his own way.
The Donald makes a compelling case - well, as compelling as he's capable of - to the Black community. His claim is that the Democratic Party regularly takes advantage of Black loyalty and proceeds, once the last vote is counted, to give people of color precisely nothing. I have no shame in saying that he ain't exactly wrong. Unfortunately for him, his prescription would give us much the same but according to him, what with our high youth unemployment, adult unemployment, poor schools and dangerous communities, "What the hell do [we] have to lose?!?" Oh Donald, how do I advise thee? Let me count the ways. Here are five.
Donald, some of us are awake to the fact of Democratic Party duplicity. Shocking that I would start with this, but hey, since it's just you and me talking no harm done right? Two recent examples have ensured that we are aware of the realities: Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the CBC PAC.
Schultz's lining up with the payday lending industry did not go unnoticed. Her flip-flop on the issue - going from supporting a delay of new stricter rules to supporting more immediate implementation - may net her some votes, but we're on to her now. I for one will be watching her closely. I'm hoping she'll lose her primary but you never know with these things.
The Congressional Black Caucus PAC is our other red flag. The CBC PAC offered up a quick endorsement of Hillary Clinton though it could certainly be argued that it was Bernie Sanders who had the platform that more clearly and aggressively sought to meet the needs of the poor and middle classes among which the Black community numbers significantly. The endorsement garnered the attention of the more woke among us. The CBC PAC, unlike the CBC itself, is run by a Board consisting of 11 lobbyists and only two elected officials, a fact that earned the PAC and the endorsement the side-eye it so richly deserved. Lobbyists rarely serve the needs of the little people. Knowing this, a PAC even one named CBC, was unlikely to be seen as being in our corner.
We are well aware that politics requires large sums of money to keep the wheels turning and we don't have it. We know that he/she who pays the piper calls the tune. Since we don't have the pennies to pay the piper, the music to which we dance is unlikely to be of our choosing. Perhaps there are still quite a few people of color who haven't yet cottoned on to these facts, but some of us have and we are not shy about sharing that information around. The CBC PAC doesn't work for us. Neither, quite frequently, does the DNC. We get it.
Those being the realities, our expectations of our politicians are both low and high. We expect something and at the same time, we expect nothing. We have grown dangerously comfortable with that level of dissonance. That aside, we do still expect that our representatives won't call us dumb n*ggers to our faces (which is pretty much what you did today) and then expect our full-throated support. At least the Democrats have the sense enough to be slick about it. We really appreciate that! You don't even have the sense God gave a dumb goat. Seriously, your foolishness wearies me. Try nuh! Butter me up a little bit nuh? Oh gosh man!
In your presentation today, you used Detroit as a case in point of the failures of the Democratic approach. You are right (saying that nearly choked me!), the Democrats have indeed run Detroit for-almost-ever. They have held the mayoralty of Detroit since 1962, but White supremacy has kept poor Black folk on a shaky economic footing from well before 1962. And that is probably the more important factor in Detroit's failures but that's not a reality you want to touch. That's the third rail for you ain't it? You could say that Black folk have been in economic quicksand since the first slave ship landed, but you def don't want to go there.......
The reality is that a city is built on its tax base. Black folk have never had much to tax, so a majority Black city is in trouble from the get go. Any economic tremor that primarily affects people of color, and the city will come up short. And as we all know - whether we admit it or not - economic tremors in America, rock Black communities' foundations first, hardest, longest and most frequently. Stability is unknown to many of us. If hiring in the city shuts me and mine out, what does it matter the party affiliation of the mayor? I'm out, I can pay no taxes and the city's coffers are short. See how that works? Math. Try it some time, Don.
Having said some of the things you have about other minority groups, are you seriously expecting us to throw our lot in with you? I mean fuh real? Are you not the one who suggested that immigrants were criminals? You are aware of course, that many people of color are one or two short generations away from immigrants themselves right?
We are an imperfect lot, we Black folk, but as an oft 'othered' group, we're a little more woke than most on the matter of protecting the rights of both the poor and other minorities. It may have escaped your notice, but invariably when a person dies by police violence, it is BLM - more of whom later, I assure you - that typically is first to raise the flag of awareness. Your attitudes to the need of Black people to feel safe and your refusal to hear our truth, makes it unlikely that today's pleas will fall on fertile soil.
And speaking of BLM...While not all of us are vocally pro-BLM, we are Black and therefore hyper-aware of the consequences of Blackness in this society. We know that we can't Curriculum Vitae away our negritude (trust us on this, many have tried but all have failed. PhDs get pulled over with about as much regularity as GEDs). Your efforts therefore to paint BLM as something other than what it is: a group that (i) seeks to raise awareness about the disparate impacts of policing and (ii) demand a change in the frequency of the deployment of deadly force against the unarmed, has not gone unnoticed. Further, your *promise* to increase police presence in urban communities has been heard loud and clear. We know what you mean to do: to move the carceral state to our very front door. You have clearly articulated your lack of interest in holding the police accountable for their current behaviors - Blue Lives Matter and all that - so we know what your *promise* will look like in implementation. We hear you. Believe me, we hear you.
And finally, the Central Park Five.
1989. You, in your typical, "Trust me I know (never mind I don't have any real evidence)" way, took out a full page ad demanding a return of the Death Penalty for these five young men who had been terrorized into confessing a crime they hadn't committed. Lucky for them, and the rest of us, you were roundly ignored - would that that were the case this year as well!
It is perhaps the story of the Central Park Five that most cements my feelings about you dear Don. You were boneheaded and wrong when it came to them. You rushed to judgement. You had no qualms about calling for their deaths when there were questions about their guilt....much the way you now seek to exclude all Muslims absent evidence of their wrong-doing. Worse still, when they were exonerated and restitution was being discussed just two years ago, you came out loud (and wrong again, surprise surprise!) against that as well.
I suppose I should be grateful for your consistency. It helps me to know who you are. I have no questions about who you are. I don't have to wonder who you would be as a president, you'd be you: loud, boneheaded, wrong.
At the end of the day Don, no I will not be voting for you. Nice try, but no. Too much toxic Flintian water has flowed under my bridge, through my faucets and into my home. No, no and no again. Thank you, but no.
Donald, I appreciate your attempt at outreach. My advice from down here in the cheap seats though is that you should save your energy. Forget reaching out, reach in, your people need you. Me? I'm good. I'm pretty sure 'my people' are good too.
About the Author - Elle Sagar
I am a strategic thinker and problem solver. I have a knack for seeing the heart of an issue, clearing away all the noise and nonsense and hopefully making cogent arguments that go to the central issue under consideration. Nice work if you can get it, and you can get it if you try. That's a lyric from an Ella Fitzgerald song and from the songbook of my life.