By Moses Kamuiru.
About a month ago, president Trump stood before a joint session of both congress and called out his guest, Jamiel Shaw Jr. As the camera zoomed in on him, Shaw smiled with humility, and those around him stood up and clapped in his honor. “Jamiel’s 17-year-old son was viciously murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member, who had just been released from prison,” Trump said. “Jamiel Shaw Jr. was an incredible young man, with unlimited potential, who was getting ready to go to college where he would have excelled as a great quarterback. But he never got the chance.”
Pitting blacks against undocumented immigrants
President Trump chose to highlight Shaw’s case not because he wanted to emphasize the tragedy that is murder, or even just to stir up unfounded fears about the criminality of undocumented immigrants. He was doing something else too, something nefariously brilliant. By using Shaw, Trump was explicitly pitting black Americans against undocumented immigrants, telling us that Brown, undocumented immigrants will kill our families too. In doing so, Trump said that our families matter, that we are Americans. For once, black Americans weren’t the subtext of dog-whistle politics but the intended audience.
Trump’s New Deal
There was also Trump’s “New Deal for Black America,” a last-ditch effort to appeal to black voters days before the election. One of its proposals, “Protection from Illegal Immigration” stated that “No group has been more economically harmed by decades of illegal immigration than low-income African-American workers.” But other than rhetorically setting these two communities against each other in a race to the bottom, Trump’s plan offers petite to create better jobs for black Americans, and many of his proposals, from school choice to beefing up policing to financial deregulation to ignoring climate change—would disproportionately hurt black Americans. In other words, Trump doesn’t want a new deal for black America—he just wants to fasten us in tighter to the old deal of low-wage, insecure, go-nowhere jobs.
Never intended for black America
Donald Trump is also aware of something, like Watson did, about black Americans: We will never stop seeking out first-class citizenship. But history has also taught us to be wary of the smoke and mirrors deployed by politicians like Trump. Baiting black people and trying to pit us against Mexicans won’t work when all of Trump’s other policies are ruinous to black communities. Trump touts a new deal for black America, but he forgets that while blacks benefited from the original New Deal; a set of economic recovery programs that lifted America out of the Great Depression, it was not intended for us. Trump is right about one thing: Black people do want a new deal. But not one that reinforces our place as second-class citizens with a pernicious mandate to trample on the backs of those without any citizenship at all.
You can read more of this story here.
Photo credits: Newsday