President Trump’s White House is the sunken place for black people.
Earlier this month, prominent black figures in the black community had two starkly different experiences with Donald Trump. A group of black pastors led by Pastor Darrell Scott met with Trump at the White House, with many of the pastors thinking they were there to share their views on criminal justice reform and what efforts they can take part in to address the issues facing their communities. Instead, this meeting started just the way Trump’s cabinet meetings begin, with mindless groveling which included Darrell Scott suggesting that Trump is the most pro-black president of our time.
The reality is, these black pastors had the opportunity to challenge Trump on his administration’s policies that hurt the black community. They had an opportunity to demand his administration stop attacking and rolling back the progress the Obama administration made in ensuring an equal playing field for all Americans. These black pastors had the opportunity to hold Trump accountable for his words and rebuke him for his racist and sexist attacks on Maxine Waters, NFL players, the Obamas, the Central Park 5, Kamala Harris and countless other brilliant black people. These black pastors had the opportunity to live up to their roles as leaders in the black community and they failed.
Often, prominent black pastors are called sellouts for the cars, clothes, and houses they acquire, because the thought is they should live like their membership. The usual line is they are abusing their resources. But, I think the biggest abuse by any pastor is not using his or her voice and power and influence to speak up for the right causes and speaking out against injustices. Too often, the most powerful leaders in the black community are silent. With the life and death issues we are facing as communities of color, silence is unacceptable because the levels of poverty, violence, crime, and inequality we are facing are manmade and could be addressed if the people in power were held accountable. More importantly, change is possible if our leaders use their voices to galvanize the masses to action. When our leaders are silent, they are complicit.
The problem is, the “leaders” that were given an audience with the president are not using their voices or influence for the good of the community and they are certainly not galvanizing the community to act. They used their voices to sing Trump’s praises instead. It seems as if their access is more important than accountability for this racist and bigoted administration.
In stark contrast, Trump can’t stand when black leaders speak up and criticize him or have power and influence he can’t use to his advantage. Anyone who makes him feel inferior or poses a threat to his popularity is a frequent target for Trump. This led him to question our forever President’s birth certificate and leads him to attack Maxine Water’s IQ. Most recently, he tried to demean and question the intelligence of LeBron James, who though he may not wield presidential powers, uses his power, money, and influence to uplift his community.
Lebron James sat down with CNN’s Don Lemon recently to discuss his thought process in opening up a school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. During the interview, Don Lemon asked Lebron what he thought of the President’s critiques of him and other athletes who use their platforms to speak out against social injustice. James said what he thought to be true from the outset of Trump’s candidacy and still remains to be true, that Trump is using sports and other issues to divide the country and appeal to his base.
Of course, Trump lashed out in response saying Don Lemon is the “dumbest man on television” and that he “made LeBron look smart which is hard to do”. This rhetoric is deeply racist and resembles a tactic employed throughout America’s racist history. This demeaning, dehumanizing and hateful attack on black excellence is a song played on repeat.
One thing is clear, Trump likes his black people like the black pastors that came to meet with him at the White House. They must shower him with praise and adoration, unlike LeBron James who wants nothing to do with him and has power and influence on his own that he uses to uplift people and his community. Whatever those black pastors went to do, they fell short of what they should have done, especially while this administration is still holding children in cages at the border.