On the first day of Black History Month, President Donald J. Trump delivered a “speech” that focused on the promises he made to Black communities and name-dropped a handful of Black historical figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks.
At one point, he may have even suggested that he thought Frederick Douglass was still alive despite his death in 1895.
“Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I noticed,” said Trump.
Even if that isn’t the case, his breezy mention of a man of Douglass’ stature begs the question, does he even know who Frederick Douglass was?
As the speech went on, the president lost his point, as he often does, and rattled on about his campaign promises until he started walking through the list of Black supporters he supposedly has. As if shouting out the names of Ben Carson, Omarosa and whichever other Black face he recognizes would make his stance on race a little easier to swallow.
In reality, they mostly represent an extension of the “my African-American over there” mentality he’s exhibited on numerous occasions.
Later on in his speech, President Trump implied that not only did he outperform expectations in the election, but that he did exceptionally well when it came to winning the Black vote.
“If you remember I wasn’t going to do well with the African-American community, and after they heard me speaking and talking about the inner city and lots of other things, we ended up getting—and I won’t go into details—but we ended up getting substantially more than other candidates who had run in the past years,” Trump said. “And now we’re gonna take that to new levels.”
All it took to inspire all of this bravado was 8 percent.
That’s the amount of the Black vote Donald Trump walked away with in November compared to Hillary Clinton’s 88.
But both of these men were running against America’s first Black president. That wasn’t just an uphill battle. They were trying to push a rock up a wall with no ladder.
If one were to compare Trump’s Black voter turnout to Republican nominees who ran against opponents not named Barack Obama, the numbers tell a vastly different story. Going back all the way to 1972, Donald Trump has the lowest percentage of Black votes out of any Republican nominee running against a white Democrat, according to Mother Jones.
That’s right, Donald Trump got a smaller share of the Black vote than Ronald Reagan. Yet he still has the arrogance to walk around as if he has unwavering support from the Black community. 92 percent of a group – not even including those who didn’t or couldn’t vote – choosing to support someone else doesn’t translate to, “You really helped me a lot.” But, when you’re Trump, it seems like almost anything is an occasion for “alternative facts” and hubris.
With every election, there’s an argument that there’s a group of “closeted” Black republican voters that are afraid to show their support because of the backlash they’d receive from other Black people. Social media apparently makes this worse if you ask the newly rebooted Black republican organization at Howard University. But, they haven’t been turning out to the polls in high enough numbers to validate this claim.
Voting is a private act. If someone wishes to share their vote, that’s their decision. It’s perfectly conceivable that if this group of secret Trump supporters felt the need to show silent solidarity from the privacy of the voting booth, they would have. And their secret would’ve remained with them until they felt safe enough to share it, if ever.
But 8 percent destroys that theory altogether.
While the president believes that he’s got the support of the Black community, his actions only damage that relationship further. His threat to “send in the feds!” if Chicago’s gun violence persists is a prime example. Even local police and politicians have called his bluff at this point.
Donald Trump may not think that he has a problem with Black people, but Black people clearly have a problem with him. While that’s the case, he should probably refrain from implying or blatantly stating that he has our support.