Earlier this month the Washington Post released a poll which showed that 83 percent of African Americans across the country consider President Donald J. Trump to be a racist and that he has exacerbated racial tensions during his tenure in office. And 9 in 10 disapprove of his job performance.
The Washington Post-Ipsos poll found Trump’s overall approval rating among black Americans stands at 7 percent, with 90 percent disapproving, including 75 percent who disapprove “strongly.”
Trump has always polled poorly with African Americans. However, the Post poll illuminates the starkly negative view of the President by blacks at time when Trump, the White House, Republicans and their supporters have been pointing to a widely discredited poll in December by Emerson, Marist and Rasmussen that allegedly showed President Trump registering about 30% support among black voters.
Alonzo White a black Republican businessman from the D.C. area told the Chronicle that he’s far more inclined to believe 83 percent of black folks believe the president is racist than him having 30 percent support among them.
“Still, black folks need to understand Trump is a businessman and the only color he really cares about is “green” as in the color of money,” he said. “If you’re rich and you’re black, he’s fine with you. That’s why he got along so well with people like Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, Don King and all them before he was president.”
But that’s cold comfort to a longtime Detroiter like Bernice Smith, a Lifetime NAACP member who has been active in Detroit civics and politics for more than 60 years. She notes most black folks aren’t rich like Michael Jackson and Don King, and said just because President Trump may have a few select black friends doesn’t mean he is not harmful to the black community as a whole.
“I believe whole heartedly that Donald Trump a threat to the black community,” Smith said. “For the simple reason that he attacks our voting rights, cuts back on food stamps, puts little Hispanic babies in cages and deliberately destroys their families to keep them out of our country and wants to build damn wall to keep people out!”
“I’ve lived a longtime and have seen a lot of bad things by politicians, but this has never happened in my lifetime and I am 87-years old” she said. “You can’t pay me to support that man and I will tell people everywhere I go, do not fall for that B.S.”
University of Michigan Law School Professor Michael J. Steinberg, professor from Practice and Director of the Civil Rights Litigation Initiative said African Americans like Smith have good reason to feel threatened by the Trump presidency.
“The belief that 83 percent of African Americans believe President Trump is a racist is backed up by his policies,” he said. “From his attacks on outsiders; people who are not white and people he describes as murderers and who are not Christians pervades his policies. Starting with the Muslim ban and attacks on immigrants and characterizing Mexican Americans as criminals and rapists; separating the kids of immigrants.”
Steinberg said such policies specifically target people of color. And additional discriminatory policies such as his recent announcement that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will no longer enforce provisions to take actions to eliminate racial barriers to housing along with trump’s push for voter ID laws when he knows it will disproportionately harm people of color are proof of his hostility toward racial minorities.
“As well as his speaking to overt white supremacist by saying there were good people on both sides of the Charlottesville conflict,” he said. “It just goes on and on.”
Such messaging to white supremacist is strategic on part of Trump whose entire political appeal based upon playing into the fears of whites, said the Bishop Talbert Swan of the Church of God and Christ in Springfield, Massachusetts, President of the local NAACP and an anti-racist activist with a large social media following.
“I think Trump was the ultimate slap in the face to black progress,” he said. It just reminds us that as far as we have come from slavery and Jim Crow we still have so much further to go. When they say “make America Great Again, they want to go back to from where escaped.”
Talbert blamed much of Trump’s power on the support he receives from white evangelicals who enthusiastically support him in spite of his blatant racism and lurid lifestyle. “If you juxtapose the 83 percent of African Americans who say Trump is a racist against the 81 percent of white evangelicals who think he was sent by God and is the chosen one, it really tells you how far apart ideologically, politically, and religiously black and whites are in this country.”
However, he said white evangelicals support of Trump should be instructive to all people of color in in general and African Americans in particular.
“Their support of this man whose entire life has been antithetical to everything that they purport to believe in, and yet, are willing to give him a pass, is in order to maintain white supremacy and keep the white power structure afloat,” Swann said.
However, despite Trump’s racism, Swann said African Americans share some of the blame for finding themselves in this “Second Post-Reconstruction” period because they took their eye off the ball.
“African Americans had grown complacent as a community,” he said. “We were basking in the progress we had made. We were loving having a black man and black woman in White House and shifted our system of support from those organizations that fought for our rights and progress.”
“We thought the NAACP and other civil rights organizations were no longer relevant and we didn’t need them anymore,” Swann said. “And the religious institutions became social clubs that talked about wealth and prosperity and lost the prophetic voice of the black church in the public sphere. And now we realize we need all that back.”
Professor Steinberg from the University of Michigan School Of Law said in many ways trump told the American public what he was going to do and has followed through on it in many ways.
“But he’s also gone beyond what many people anticipated in his nod to white supremacist groups and his playing on the fears that white people are losing the nation to people of color,” he said. “I was fearing the worse when he was elected but he has gone further than what I feared.”
Smith, the longtime Detroit activist agreed.
“It’s undeniable that Donald Trump is a threat to the black community – right now!” she said. “If we had a black president in office and 83 percent of the white population thought he was as racist to them as Trump has been to us, there would be a second Civil War.”
By Whitney Gresham