Point of View Columns

An Open Letter to Donald Trump

It should be clear by now that there are no boundaries for Donald Trump. And there is no limit to the extent to which Trump will seek to disgrace, demean or degrade whoever might come into the line of his vision. And so it should really come as no surprise that even though he has been a lifelong bigot and fully committed racist, Donald Trump would have the temerity to appeal to black voters as their savior incarnate.

We know that Donald Trump reads as much as a mildly curious six year old, so there is no doubt that he will never read this letter. Nevertheless, this letter is addressed to Trump in the hope that there will be those who will read it and understand once and for all, that not only is this man unfit to be President, he should be thankful that the 1st Amendment prevents him from banned from all public discourse – forever.

Dear Mr. Trump:

It is beyond belief that you would actually appeal to black voters with a line like “What the Hell do you have to lose?” Aside from our self-respect, dignity and sense of personhood, voting for you would virtually vaporize any hope of a future for ourselves or our posterity.

But here’s a question for you Mr. Trump. Where the Hell have you been? You are 70 years of age which means that you were 17 at the time of the March on Washington. Where the Hell were you?

When your father’s housing development company, where you served as an executive,  was accused by the Department of Justice of racial discrimination in the 1970’s in Cincinnati did you acknowledge wrongdoing and try to rectify your misdeeds as manager of the project? Or did you sue the federal government for $100 million and finally settle without acknowledging guilt? Where the Hell were you?

And, in the modern era, since you were a public figure by 1980, can you name one time, just one time, when you spoke in favor of racial justice, equity or fairness?

Was there ever a time when you expressed dismay and outrage over the NYPD killings of Eleanor Bumphurs or Amadou Diallou or Sean Bell or Eric Garner? Do you even remember the young black men who were killed by a racist mob in Brooklyn? Where the Hell were you?

We do know that you sought the death penalty for the young black and Latino men who were wrongfully convicted of raping the Central Park jogger. We do know that even after they were fully exonerated and their sentences were vacated you expressed no remorse. When justice was finally done, where the Hell were you?

And when Barack Obama was elected President where the Hell were you when racially motivated bigots tried to delegitimize his presidency? Oh, that’s right; you were the spearhead of that despicable movement.

When there was a demented movement to falsely claim that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, where the Hell were you? Oh, that’s right; you were at the head of that movement. And when President Obama finally displayed his Hawaiian birth certificate where the Hell were you? Oh that’s right, you were nowhere to be found.

And now, after blatantly and purposely exaggerated the persistent pathologies that have beset the black community, stoking the flames under the perpetually boiling cauldrons of stereotypes, you must know that you did not discover these problems. So where the Hell have you been all of these years? Have you ever taken a single step, made a single effort, uttered a single word to help? Where the Hell have you been?

And now, having run the gamut from insolent indifference to blatantly racist rhetoric for your entire public life, you have the gall to ask for the support of the black community. Now, having insulted and attempted to demean and degrade the first black president of the United States during his entire time in office, you ask “what the Hell do you have to lose?”.

By supporting you Donald Trump, black people would lose the respect of all of the mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who marched and protested and labored and died in the cause of freedom and fairness. By supporting you black people would lose any and all pretext of dignity – believing that after 70 years you have finally discovered black people and that you are the savior incarnate would be blasphemy, plain and simple.

So Mr. Trump, the answer to your question, “What the Hell do you have to lose?” is “Where the Hell have you been?”

Sincerely,
Black America

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Point of View Columns

The Eternal Requiem

The crime of “Living While Black” has been part of the American criminal justice system since colonial times. Every black man, woman and child in this country is subject to indictment. The punishment for this crime has taken the form of housing discrimination, employment bias and all too many times death. Sometimes it is a slow death occasioned by factors such as environmental racism (see Flint, Michigan) and sometimes the death sentence is carried out by a policeman’s gun.

The recent roll call of Americans of African descent that have died at the hands of police or while in police custody seems never ending because it is never ending. The names of men, women and children who could have been famous for their good deeds, who could have remained anonymous in the ordinary pursuit of ordinary happiness, are known to us because they are dead.

Children like Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin, women like Eleanor Bumphurs and Sandra Bland and men like Eric Garner, Freddie Gray and Sean Bell are known to us only because they suffered the death sentence imposed for the crime of “Living While Black”. And just now, two more names are added to the eternal requiem roll call – Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile should be alive as this column is being read. They are dead because white police officers murdered them. We know that they were murdered and not killed incidental to some criminal act because there is real time video that undeniably reveals those Baton Rouge and St. Paul police officers to be murderers.

And we also know that without the real time video evidence Alton Sterling and Philando Castile would join the countless anonymous men, women and children who have been killed by the police without witness. And we have to wonder what the real body count is in the reign of terror that targets black Americans everywhere in America?

There are the predictable calls for quiet and restraint in the national black community – and there is simply no reason for black Americans to kill each other and burn down their own homes – or anyone else’s home – upon the commission of another outrage. But we wait, not so quietly and definitely impatiently for calls for quiet and restraint to be exercised by police officers. We wait not so quietly and definitely impatiently for members of the criminal justice system – police officers, district attorneys, prosecutors – to righteously and vociferously condemn this Blue Carnage which afflicts the national black community.

The tears of the parents of the dead, the orphans of the dead, the lovers and spouses and partners of the dead drench the earth of this nation. Justice delayed is no justice at all. And in the case of Blue Carnage, the justice that is called for is not simply convicting the police officers who pulled the trigger. True justice will include transformation of the criminal justice system so that “Living While Black” is no longer a capital crime and every black, woman and child is not an automatic suspect and potential victim.

True justice will mean an end to mass incarceration, but it will also mean an end to the state sanctioned dehumanization of the black community. True justice will mean that black parents will not have to teach their nine year old boys and girls how to avoid being killed by the police. True justice will mean that black teenagers should be able to be as silly and outrageous on 125th Street as white teenagers on Spring Break in Florida without silly and outrageous becoming death defying acts.

And finally, true justice will be known to all of us when the foul heritage of the Black Codes and race-based slavery and Jim Crow and state sponsored segregation and serial lynching is finally and absolutely condemned by every sentient being in this country. It when that true justice is made known that this nation can begin to actually aspire to the high ideals and aspirations that were so eloquently stated at the inception of the Republic.

These high ideals and aspirations have become museum pieces instead of being the living, breathing heritage and culture of all Americans.

Only True Justice and change that.

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