“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Police: ‘Vote Trump’ vandalism, fire at Mississippi church a hate crime
“Police are treating the burning of a black church in Mississippi — during which vandals spray-painted “Vote Trump” on an exterior wall — as a hate crime, saying it amounts to an act of voter intimidation.” – CNN, 2:20 PM ET, Wed November 2, 2016
The word, based on early voting, is that African-Americans are not coming out to vote in large numbers. Now, I realize it is early days yet, with six days remaining until election day, and early voting may not be representative, but I still feel a need to address this topic. The percent of African-Americans voting, based on early election statistics, is down some 16% from 2012. There are two major reasons for this:
- The turnout rates for African-American voters reached historic levels in 2008, and even more so in 2012, with Barack Obama on the ticket. There is noticeably less excitement this year, as there is no African-American candidate.
- There are newly-enacted impediments to voting this year, such as curtailed voting hours in predominantly African-American neighborhoods and new voter I.D. laws in some states.
In an effort to re-ignite the enthusiasm of African-American voters, President Obama had this to say:
“If we let this thing slip and I’ve got a situation where my last two months in office are preparing for a transition to Donald Trump, whose staff people have said that their primary agenda is to have him in the first couple of weeks sitting in the Oval Office and reverse every single thing that we’ve done. And I know that there are a lot of people in barbershops and beauty salons, you know, in the neighborhoods who are saying to themselves, ‘We love Barack, we love — we especially love Michelle, and so, you know, it was exciting and now we’re not as excited as much.’ You know what? I need everybody to understand that everything we’ve done is dependent on me being able to pass the baton to somebody who believes in the same things I believe in.”
Not only is President Obama’s legacy at stake, but so is much, if not all, of the progress that has been made in the area of Civil Rights over the past 60 years. This election is too important to all minority groups to allow apathy to sway voters. It is not only Trump’s rhetoric that is racist, but he has a history of racism:
- After more than a decade of Trump Management refusing to rent property to blacks, in 1973 the Justice Department sued Trump Management for discriminating against blacks. Both Fred Trump, the company’s chairman, and Donald Trump, its president, were named as defendants. Trump responded with angry denials, character assassination, charges that the government was trying to force him to rent to “welfare recipients” and a $100 million countersuit accusing the Justice Department of defamation. Trump’s countersuit was dismissed by a judge who called it a “waste of paper.”
- In 1989, Trump told Bryant Gumbel in an interview, “A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market…if I was starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I really do believe they have the actual advantage today.“ As we all know, that was not the case then, nor is it now the case.
- In 1991, John O’Donnell, who had been president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, quoted Trump as saying, “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys wearing yarmulkes… Those are the only kind of people I want counting my money. Nobody else…Besides that, I tell you something else. I think that’s guy’s lazy. And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks.” Trump never denied the quote, and even said it was “probably true” when asked about it several years later, though he has since denied it.
Trump’s congenital racism is not merely a thing of the past, but as his rhetoric shows, is yet alive and well. At a rally in August, he said, “What do you have to lose by trying something new, like Trump? What do you have to lose? You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?” Most African-Americans were outraged, as was I. Representative John Lewis, a historic Civil Rights leader, replied, “I don’t know what Mr. Trump is talking about to say that the situation for African-Americans is worse than it’s ever been. Is he talking about worse than slavery? Worse than the system of segregation and racial discrimination — when we couldn’t take a seat at the lunch counter and be served? Worse than being denied the right to register to vote, to participate in the democratic process and live in certain neighborhoods and communities?” A retired African-American postal employee who happened to hear Mr. Trump asked, “Who’s he talking about? I don’t know — most of the black people I know are educated and live in nice neighborhoods. Everybody in my family is required to have a degree.”
The next month Trump was proposing a vast expansion of “stop-and-frisk” policing policies that have proven to be explosively controversial in black communities for encouraging racial profiling. When asked to comment on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement earlier this year, Trump had this to say: “Certainly, in certain instances they are a fuse-lighter in the assassinations of these police officers. They certainly have ignited people and you see that … It’s a very, very serious situation and we just can’t let it happen.” Trump also called the group a “threat” and accused the group of “essentially calling death to the police.” When asked if Trump would order an investigation into BLM, he responded, “We are going to have to, perhaps, talk to the attorney general about it or do something. At a minimum, we’re going to have to be watching because that’s really bad stuff and it’s happened more than once.”
Sadly, racism in the U.S. never ended, but vast improvements have been made, thanks to men like Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X, Thurgood Marshall, Ralph Abernathy, the afore-mentioned John Lewis, and many, many more. While I admit that racism is still alive and well, I also foresee that a Trump presidency would almost certainly lead to a resurgence of blatant racism with few, if any, consequences for the perpetrators. Today, however, we stand at a crossroads where one single day, November 8th, can make the difference between marching forward in the fight for equality, or sliding backward by a half-century. Look again at the picture at the top of this post. I do NOT want to see more and more of this, but I believe that if Trump had the power, we would. Already he has promoted violence and hatred, has told his followers that it is okay to hate people based on the colour of their skin, their religion, or their ethnicity, and his followers are taking his words to heart, as witnessed in the picture, in the shootings of unarmed African-Americans this year, in the racial comments we see on social media and elsewhere. Each and every one of us has a single vote, a part of the key to stopping this man and helping our nation move forward to greater equality. We must all do our part, and I am calling on every single African-American friend to get out there and vote! You can make a difference … you MUST!
Here are a couple of interesting articles that provide interesting food for thought on the importance of the African-American vote:
The Black Vote: History Demands a Strategy for Change – Time Magazine, 24 September 2016
Five reasons why African Americans should vote this year – Daily Planet, 26 September 2014 (Note that although this article is 2 years old, it is as relevant today as it was 2 years ago)