On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, I reflect on the first time I saw Donald on television: It was in the late 1980s or early 90s. As a single mother both working and going to college full time, I had little time for TV but just happened to catch this episode of Nightline (I believe). The topic involved race relations and Spike Lee was one of the other guests. I’d turned my attention to the television just in time to hear Trump say, “It’s great being a Black in America today,” or “I’d love to be a Black in America today,” or something to that affect. Clearly, this caught my attention and I continued watching as Spike almost fell out of his seat he was so upset. I thought to myself, “This guy (Trump) does not have a clue.” Whenever Caucasians (“Whites”) make references or speak about what it’s like being Black, I draw an analogy of a man speaking about the pains of childbirth or labor pains. Simply put: You are not in the position to speak about it. Your job, as the dutiful husband, is to stand by, listen and encourage your wife, asking, “Is there anything I can do to help?” And never, EVER say how painless it is Similarly, instead of making blanket characterizations that make it painfully obvious how out of touch he is with our reality, it’s best had Trump kept quiet, observed and asked the persons in pain what’s needed to make things better. To say how much you’d like to be “a Black in America,” while at the same time, discriminating against Blacks in housing and employment only compounds the problem and made him look worse and like a fraud. Oh, I get it – it was the Huxtable era, but you still don’t get a pass. Fast forward to 2017: Mr. Trump says that, “the Blacks walk down the street and get shot.” The world knows whatever they want to about Baltimore thanks to the Freddie Gray case, “The Wire”, etc. And the problems plaguing Baltimore – crime, violence, drugs, Black unemployment, poverty, high school dropout, teen pregnancy, infant mortality, food desserts, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS – are indicative of what’s happening also in other urban epicenters unfortunately. It appears that still, Mr. Trump does not have a clue nor does he want to find one. I feel like screaming, “You don’t know what it’s like in this capitalistic and money worshipping society of racism and white supremacy.” Although yes, we, “the Blacks” are disproportionately homeless, jobless, incarcerated and victimized by violence, some of us are not “shot at when we walk down the street.” Our interests and needs vary and we want to be “listened to” as Trump’s administration observes, encourages and asks, “What can we do to make things in this (racist, capitalistic) society better?” Because, after all, you are the only people of color brought here by force and not by choice and helped build to make this the great country that it is. Looking at Trump’s picks for his Cabinet clearly indicates his lack of sincerity for the wellbeing of “the Blacks”. We, the Blacks, have it so great that Trump’s first three picks for his Administration are altright conservatives. His Cabinet is considered the least experienced in modern history and is not close to being qualified in making America great again. In fact, Trump has clearly shown his hand and instead, it’s “make America (all) white again” (when it never was). Mr. Trump has absolutely no concern for “the Blacks.” In fact, we don’t fit into the equation. Moreover, in light of his first three and subsequent picks, foremost Voting Rights Act opponent Jeff Sessions, handpicked by Trump for Attorney General, we are in big trouble. Trump’s recent disrespectful comments about Congressman and Civil Rights great John Lewis being “all talk” clearly reflect his disregard and lack of knowledge of “the Blacks” and respect when it comes to civil rights and Black history. Talk about being all talk!!!! The Southern Poverty Law Center reports 437 incidents of hate related intimidation and harassment from November 8, the day of the election, through November 14, 2 016 against “the Blacks” (as well as other people of color, Muslims, immigrants, women and the LGBT community). Most disturbing is a former employee of alt-right conservative Bannon, Chuck Johnson, who was banned from Twitter for requesting donations to take out a Black Lives Matter activist and is working behind the scenes on Trump’s transition team’s executive committee. Bottom line: Trump wages an all-out assault to lambaste and denigrate Congressman Lewis, a civil rights icon, while at the same time aligns himself with white supremacists without comment. So again I ask, “Where is the sincere love of “the Blacks”? In Trump’s view, there is no middle ground but rather, two extremes of the same spectrum: Either poverty, violence and uneducated or athlete, celebrity and ultra-rich when it comes to “the Blacks.” How stereotypical. Clearly, in light of his selections, clearly the only real color he sees is not black, brown or any other but green. Looks as if it’s more of the same for “the Blacks” just a different day (or administration): the rich get richer while…. you know. And Trump knows nothing about life of “the Blacks” cannot know anything about it. It’s impossible for Trump to ever know how it feels. Instead of guessing, ask “the Blacks” other than those at either extreme of the “Trump stereotypical paradigm” who can really make a difference. But based on Trump’s decisions so far, it’s not likely to happen. We “the Blacks” will persevere and we’ll keep on praying, marching, fighting, standing (or kneeling) if we must to keep what’s rightfully ours. It’s a pain. But unfortunately, unlike the pains of childbirth, these pains, the pains of being Black in America never seem to go away.
Martina Evans is an Attorney & Filmmaker