What Trump’s policies mean for the Black community and how we can hold his administration and ourselves accountable in the revitalization of Black communities
People across the United States and the world, are witnessing the reality of a Trump presidency. Citizens are protesting in the streets day and night across the country to chants of “Not my president”. Others have exercised their right to not care about the legitimate concerns of those who are protesting by resorting to the age-old, “Get over it. Stop whining. He won”. Then, there are those who continue to say, “Just give him time”, even though we have reached Trump’s first 100 days in office.
In an effort to garner support from African American communities, Trump assembled an African American outreach team who knows absolutely nothing about the African American community, evidenced by his team giving an interview to Mediatakeout.com, a website that is famous for celebrity gossip, street-fighting videos and a portrayal of African Americans in the most negative, stereotypical ways. He has tapped Dr. Ben Carson to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Trump instructed Dr. Carson to cut 13 percent from the HUD budget, potentially putting over 200,000 seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families at risk for eviction and homelessness. Trump likes to talk to Black celebrities about problems that affect the Black community, but has shown little to no interest in meeting with those in the trenches putting in work, trying to make positive changes in these communities.
Trump has also tagged his “apprentice”, Omarosa Manigault, to reach out to college students who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs. Omarosa has been tasked with letting students know that the Trump administration is fighting for them. Unfortunately, cutting Pell Grant funding by $3.9 billion does not scream “We’ve got your back.” Pell Grants allow many students from low-income families to attend college. Cutting funding is one of the many ways the Trump Administration is proving to be detrimental to Black communities and, subsequently, low-income families across the U.S.
Trump’s outreach team laid out a plan that will only exacerbate the many problems facing Black communities.
School vouchers. ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) has been trying push school vouchers onto Americans since George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind plan. Trump says he wants to give Americans a choice in schools. What he does not say is that school vouchers for out of county schools would likely increase the financial burden on low-income and middle class families. Sure, citizens will be able to choose where to send their children to school, whether public, private or charter. If the entire school district where a citizen lives has dilapidated schools, a shortage of teachers due to lack of funding (funding usually comes from property tax) children will need to be bused out of county.
Safe Communities. Trump wants to increase police on the streets of predominantly Black communities. He even suggested reinstating the unconstitutional use of Stop and Frisk policies, a practice that disproportionately targeted African American and Latino men.
Lower taxes for corporations and give tax incentives. Trump wants to encourage companies to do business in predominantly Black communities. One thing that Trump does not understand about business outside of his bubble is that companies are turned off by areas that are over-policed. More police do not equate safer community. More police say there is a need for control. With the narrative that all Black communities are dilapidated, poor and full of uneducated Black folk, large companies avoid predominantly Black neighborhoods, except for stores like Dollar General and Family Dollar. Many of the Black communities that ARE crumbling, however, are food deserts, without access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Privatize New Infrastructure Investment. He wants to rebuild our infrastructure. Great. But he wants to do it by privatization because that worked out so well in Flint, Michigan, where people are still without clean water and neither the state government nor the private company contracted to provide water, have been held responsible.
Millions of people are protesting day in and day out. They are protesting out of frustration, pain, anger–fear of a Trumped America. What is the plan afterward? Will Americans continue to protest for four years? America—Black communities need a plan of action. Instead of complaining and marching empty-handed, we need to present a list of demands. Here are a few of my demands, which are not just for the Black community, except for the sake of this topic.
First, demand that Trump, Republicans and Democrats stop using Black poverty as a means of manipulation to advance their business and political agendas. Listen to what we have been trying to tell you about what our communities need instead of blindly implementing policy after policy that destroys communities more and more. Understand that while we are all human beings, African Americans, because of our history in this nation, are not individualistic, but a collectivist community and Trump’s proposed policies of individualism do not work for our communities.
We do not want school vouchers. Instead, we want to improve the schools we already have by Improving the buildings, allowing the communities to reevaluate the curriculum being taught. Hire more teachers. Hire counselors equipped to work with children who are victims of trauma and PTSD. Invest in STEM programs for our schools. Invest in music and art program creation and/or expansion. Invest in culinary, butchery, urban agriculture and textile vocations/apprenticeships in vocational schools
Secondly, we must abandon the racist notion of Stop and Frisk and increased policing that will target Black and Latino men disproportionately, increasing the already alarming number of broken homes. Instead, focus on rehabilitative programs that help to reintegrate those returning home from jail back into society through work and education programs. Allow communities and police departments to develop relationships by mandating that police live in the communities that they police. Invest in substance and alcohol abuse rehabilitation in the communities. Instead of throwing young kids in jail for petty theft, implement a new community service program that involves caring for others, volunteering at nursing homes, animal shelters, cleaning up the streets and so forth. Stop criminalizing being Black and Latino men when White men commit the very same crimes, but are targeted by the police much less often and, therefore, create the narrative of Black on Black crime to instill fear, hate and discrimination towards People of Color. Allow funding for infrastructure revitalization WITHIN the communities. Allow tax incentives for communities’ farmer’s markets. Allow cities to fund infrastructure revitalization instead of sourcing to your selected group of corporations who will surely create jobs, but does not foster ownership within these communities. Denounce redlining and gentrification and offer harsh penalties for those companies/individuals attempting to manipulate African American and low-income communities.
We must stop complaining and marching without offering solutions. Otherwise, politicians will continue to do nothing but the same letting us down. We need politicians to listen to us. And we need to act.