Subscribe

Donald Trump, Charlotte, NC, 2018
President Donald Trump at a Make America Great Again rally in Charlotte, NC, on October 26, 2018. Photo credit: The Epoch Times / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED)

Black Americans may find it even more difficult to vote, if Trump has his way.

Listen To This Story
Voiced by Amazon Polly

I keep seeing mention that a surprisingly large percentage of the Black population is, for the first time, planning to vote for the GOP — and for Donald Trump. Polls confirm that Trump is indeed gaining support among both Blacks and Latinos.  

To be clear, that element constitutes a minority of voters of color. Still, it is potentially critical because, in the battleground states where the November election will be decided, a very small number of votes could be the determining factor. 

That those votes might well be Black votes strikes me as equal parts tragic and comic — and potentially catastrophic for the country. 

Why have some Black voters — and, notably, young Black voters — moved toward Trump and the GOP? It’s probably not just because of the handful of Black celebrities showcased by his campaign. Or because they were necessarily taken in by AI-generated deepfake photos of Trump surrounded by Black people in a lovefest. 

Clues emerge from the responses of young Black voters attending a music festival and recently interviewed by The Washington Post about Trump and Biden. For example:  

A 28-year-old man who works in film production told the Post, “We’ve already experienced both of them. They’re both liars.”

A 25-year-old woman who works in medical technology said: “He’s not my favorite — Trump. But at the same time I appreciate his honesty. … And I feel like, with how Biden has done, I don’t know — maybe we need to vote with [Trump] and try it out? He has offered some things that … have potential. We picked the nice guy and look what happened.”

Trump has… “honesty”? And… “try it out” with Trump? Didn’t we already try out his ignorance, chaos, and prevarication circus for four years, from 2017 to 2021? And what things has he offered that “have potential”? 

Several respondents cited Trump’s “honesty.” They probably confuse Trump’s bludgeoning bluntness with “honesty,” no matter how false the assertion. His marketing around “telling it like it is,” so central (along with his exaggerated successes) to his disingenuous branding over the years, appears to be working. 

One man, a 35-year-old school administrator, said, “Joe Biden has been mysterious from day one and the only thing you can really see … is his health.” 

These responses are clearly informed by the fabricated MAGA narrative. 

To be sure, Black people have had a raw deal from the system overall, and some understandably perceive all establishment figures as part of that corrupt system. In the case of Trump, they may simply see him, as some see RFK Jr., as flipping the bird to “the way things are,” even if they don’t actually offer anything better, and in fact offer something much worse. 

It may be the implicit promise to blow it all up that is appealing. 

Is that really what Black voters will get, an outsider who will shake things up in ways that will benefit them? 

Trump, the same man who promotes violence and white supremacy at his rallies, who proposes shooting Black Lives Matter protesters in the legs. It’s logical that reported hate crimes against Black people surged following his 2016 election. 

The same day that a Philadelphia police officer shot and killed a Black man, Trump praised police officers as “the most incredible people on earth.”

Is Trump Our Juneteenth Hero?

I was thinking about this with the approach of Juneteenth, the national commemoration of slavery’s end. 

I was thinking about this while reading how, while filming his 2004-2017 reality show The Apprentice, Trump mused about choosing a white contestant over a Black one, and used a racist epithet about Black people.

I was thinking about this while contemplating Trump’s promise to the fossil fuel industry to scrap Biden’s environmental regulations, and to bar new ones. People of color are already disproportionately harmed and displaced by climate change. To say nothing of other ill effects from the energy extraction industry in the famed “cancer alley” in Louisiana, east Texas, and similarly toxic places where so many Black people live.

Blacks For Trump, Atlanta, GA, 2023

Self-described “Blacks for Trump,” sporting old 2020 campaign shirts, rallying in support of Trump ahead of his expected surrender over Georgia election interference charges, August 24, 2023, in Atlanta. Photo credit: © John Spink/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via ZUMA Press Wire

I was thinking about this while pondering the newest in a constant stream of GOP measures targeted to make it more difficult for Black people to vote. 

I never thought I would see the day when I would need to write something like this — and ask readers to send it to people in the Black community. 

It’s a safe bet that these Trump (or still undecided) voters do not know about Project 2025, a blueprint crafted by some of Trump’s most influential backers to disrupt democracy as we know it.

Bad news for us all — especially Black people. A few major changes Project 2025 calls for:

  • Using the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to “prosecute all state and local governments, institutions of higher education, corporations, and any other private employers” with affirmative action or DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) policies. And scaling back the federal government’s ability to enforce civil rights laws in schools.
  • Launching investigations by the DOJ’s Criminal Division into “voter registration fraud and unlawful ballot correction” — which amounts to voter intimidation that disproportionately affects Black communities. And eviscerating efforts to prevent anti-Black gerrymandering and other attempts to reduce representation with the help of Trump-appointed SCOTUS.
  • Restructuring Medicaid to impose mandatory work requirements in order to receive government-subsidized health care, regardless of the job market, and regardless of the discrimination against Black Americans in the low-wage market. 
  • Gutting the Inflation Reduction Act — Biden’s law that would generate 10 million climate-friendly jobs over the next 10 years — and demolish greenhouse gas regulations and clean energy programs. Low-income Black people, more than any other ethnic group, are exposed to the most pollution from power plants and have the highest risk of death from such pollution. Nearly 80 percent of Black Americans live near a coal-fired power plant.

And yet… A CBS poll showed that 58 percent of Trump voters believe that Black people have been advantaged over white people — a misconception promoted by various white nationalists, especially MAGA luminary Stephen Miller.

Remember Stephen Miller? The former White House senior advisor and director of speechwriting, and major promoter of white supremacy. The notorious anti-immigrant architect of the program to tear away infants and children from their parents. “Stephen actually enjoys seeing those pictures at the border.” Well, if Trump wins, we may see a lot of him. He’s already been busy defending the white man.

Miller founded something called “America First Legal” (AFL) which, he says, is conservatives’ “long-awaited answer to the ACLU American Civil Liberties Union.” He promises that “through relentless litigation and oversight, we will protect America First, Last, and Always.” And, by “America” he clearly means white America. 

His group perversely deploys the 1964 Civil Rights Act to sue everyone — from Manhattan’s first ever Black district attorney to a TV network, the NFL, and minority-owned restaurants — presumably to protect white people from being unfairly discriminated against, but in reality to “protect” white people from being “replaced.”

Trump himself is equally transparent in his messaging, which is designed to rouse unreasoning anger, much of it race-based, in his uninformed audience: “I am your warrior. I am your justice. For those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.”  

Much of this is telegraphed to the almost entirely white crowds at his rallies, while a requisite small group of ostensible Black supporters are deliberately posed right behind Trump. The crowd is in on the joke. 

For centuries, white Americans have been misled by demagogues to believe they were somehow “wronged” by Black people who “don’t know their place,” are lazy, live on welfare, and now are deliberately ruining our country by undeservedly replacing whites in positions of influence while afflicting our young children with feelings of guilt about America’s racist past. Trump, we are told, is the antidote. 

Race is probably the single biggest and most persistent issue preventing this country from uniting for the good of all. Given the indisputable facts about the views of the two presidential candidates, any Black person considering casting their vote for Trump desperately needs an intervention by someone who cares about them and about the country. It is as simple as that. 

Biden’s Major Achievements for Black People

Well aware of this mindbender, the Biden administration has recently been holding more events in swing-state cities with large Black populations and seeking, so far with limited effect, to highlight the many things it has done for the Black community, even in the face of staunch resistance from Trump’s allies. Although all such claims should be taken with a grain of salt and verified, I note here a few persuasive, and credible, examples:  

  • Created 2.6 million jobs for Black workers. The claim to have created substantial new Black jobs appears to be true, per Politifact: “The Black employment-population ratio for people 20 and older reached 63 percent during Biden’s term. The only time it was higher going back to 1972, when the statistic was first collected, was in the late 1990s, when it peaked around 65 percent” — and another Democratic president, Bill Clinton, was in the White House.
  • Increased average wages (inflation-adjusted) by 9.5 percent for Black workers (from the second half of 2019 to that of 2023).
  • Appointed more minorities and women to the federal bench than any other president in history. Of the confirmed, 58 are Black, 35 Latino/Latina, and 33 Asian American and Pacific Islander. 
  • Cut in half the number of Black children living in poverty in 2021 through the Child Tax Credit expansion implemented by one of Biden’s signature pieces of legislation, the American Rescue Plan (ARP).
  • Increased Black enrollment in health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act by 49 percent — or by around 400,000 people — from 2020 to 2022, helping more Black families gain health insurance than ever before.
  • Banned federal law enforcement officers from using chokeholds. Banned federal law enforcement officers from no-knock entries.
  • Set up a national infrastructure to prevent evictions, scaling up the ARP-funded Emergency Rental Assistance program in over 400 communities, helping eight million renters stay in their homes. Over 40 percent of all renters helped are Black.
  • Created the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund that will invest in clean energy projects in low-income and disadvantaged communities.
  • Passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022, to make a down payment on deficit reduction to fight inflation, invest in domestic energy production and manufacturing, and reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030. The bill will also allow Medicare to negotiate for prescription drug prices, and extend the expanded Affordable Care Act. Already capped the price of insulin to $35. (The risk of diabetes is 77 percent higher in Black people.)

The GOP’s Insanely Clever Strategy

Notwithstanding vast and continuing inequities, Black people have made tremendous progress over the past 25 years. This is evident in almost every measure and every facet of society, despite the GOP’s relentless and implacable obstruction.

Indeed, current Republican strategy is the latter-day version of burning crosses.

At one end of a toxic trend benefiting Trump, we find a low-information cadre. They’ve been targeted with heavy propaganda suggesting that Biden is somehow prioritizing “illegal aliens” over their community’s urgent needs for assistance and resources. 

This is unspeakably perverse given the fact that the GOP’s MAGA base does not want anything done to truly help Black people in poverty.

At the other end of the Trump spectrum we find the recent-vintage, small but growing Black political class constructed by the GOP apparatus and rewarded with power and success. 

The latter — manifest in such figures as Tim Scott, Ben Carson, and Hershel Walker — represents a cynical maneuver to paper over the party’s racism and make it appear to have a broader base than it does — and do all that while still not addressing the issues of interest to the Black community.

And still, plenty of Black voters find it to be Biden who is uninspiring or opposed to their needs and interests.

***

In 2018, Biden was in Memphis, to receive the National Civil Rights Museum’s annual Freedom Award. Later, he wrote about the experience. This passage about a “restless spirit” seems apt for the present moment: 

While I was there, I had a chance to stand on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was assassinated half a century earlier, and reflect on all of the progress we’d made — and that which we hadn’t — in the years since that unbearable day.

The motel balcony leads back into Dr. King’s room — a room preserved just as it was on the night he was taken from us. The bed is unmade. Coffee cups are scattered on the table. There is a restless spirit in that room — of a dream deferred; of unfinished business.

The con job on Black people, which so far seems to be working to some degree, raises the specter that the dream will continue to be deferred — if not destroyed — should Donald Trump win. 


Author

  • Russ Baker

    Russ Baker is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in exploring power dynamics behind major events.

    View all posts

Comments are closed.