For my "African-American over there" (on Election Day)

8 Nov 2016

 

For my "African-American over there," 

 

A few weeks ago Saturday Night Live ran a spoof on the second presidential debate. Kate McKinnon played a prevaricate, well-polished (and a bit phony) Secretary Hillary Clinton. Alec Baldwin played a pursed lipped, squinty-eyed, temperamental, and unpresidential Donald Trump. One part of the sketch featured Donald Trump’s response to James Carter, a Black man, who asked, “do you believe you can be a devoted president to all the people in the United States?” In the debate, after a brief bashing of Hillary for calling some of his supporters “deplorables” and “irredeemable,” he immediately turns to the inner cities: “I will be a president for all of our people. And I’ll be a president that will turn our inner cities around and will give strength to people and will give economics to people and will bring jobs back.” Although he lacks cogency (his use of polysyndeton only tells us that he’s flustered and unsure of what he’s saying) for what Clinton attributes to unpreparedness, we still get his point: I will be better than Hillary, especially for you Blacks in the ghetto. Believe him. Whereas James Carter, during the actual debate, has to just stand there peeved, knowing damn-well he didn’t ask about how Trump was going to assist the inner cities, the SNL skit pokes fun at Trump’s natural association between Carter, "a Black," and the inner city. The acting Carter tries to interrupt Baldwin’s Trump after he calls him Denzel and thanks him for his “question about the inner cities,” but it's to no avail. Once either Trump gets started there's no stopping him from fawning over the sound of his own ignorant voice.  

 

It’s in the real Trump’s paradoxical assertion that he can be the hero who saves the inner city, swooping in with a big red cape, kissing and educating Black babies on his flight to the antiquated, but far greater America, that makes the least bit of sense. James Carter was just one of many to whom Trump has made this claim. Another time was on August 19th at a campaign rally 90 minutes outside of Detroit to a 93% white audience, but speaking at the Black population: "You live in your 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?" The white people cheered like they were being paid. Yes, he said we have nothing to lose, but espouses the same law and order spiel that Nixon conceived and Reagan solidified. The same law and order spiel that two of the most racially motivated presidents in modern American history gave. The same law and order spiel that began the trend mass incarceration.

 

After the 13th amendment was ratified, enslaved Black people were freed and the South’s most profitable industry was destroyed, but there’s a loophole. If you are convicted of a crime, then slavery is a legal punishment: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction,” (13th amendment of The Constitution). If I am a Southern aristocrat, a landowner with strong political influence and my status is somehow challenged because I no longer can legally enslave Africans, I’ve got to figure out how to capitalize on this loophole. This is where the beginnings of the criminalization of the Black body begins because if you are a criminal you can legally be a slave.

 

If we are made out to be criminals we can still be highly oppressed and highly exploited. Trump seeks not only to propagate this rhetoric, reminiscent of the 90s “super predator” era in politics, to keep the Black community suffocated by prejudice that will continue to be applied systematically, but he will be able to do the same thing to all brown people. Criminalization, via the authoritarian propaganda campaign that Donald Trump runs, is a sure fire way of re-destroying the communities of all brown people across the United States.

 

Unfortunately, The Clinton Foundation has proven nepotist and irresponsible in their misallocation of funds collected for Haitian rebuilding after the 2010 earthquake. Her lack of political conviction when trusted to be a liberal answer to the insensitivity of the Republican party is objectionable, especially in her 2002 vote for the the Iraq war authorization. As people of color, we are in a state of fear and we must now, after 8 years with an incrementalist Black president, vote for a person who can never fully empathize with our plights. But just this past Monday, in an article she wrote for the Black owned African-American culture magazine The Root, Hillary discusses the importance of the HBCU: “I believe it’s essential to support HBCUs, which graduate almost half of the black teachers in America and have helped millions of African Americans gain a foothold in the middle class.” In the article she continues to discuss her plan to make college debt-free and to cater to the unique issues faced by Black people in the United States. Part of this plan is to invest $25 billion directly to HBCUs, which would average to about $234 million per school. As a student at an HBCU, I am able to grasp the key role they play in keeping a portion of the Black population in the United States conscious, passionate, and educated. One presidential candidate, who is not Black, can understand a part of this idea, whether it be through the study of statistics or simple logic, and the other prefers to complain about the state of the Black community to a group of white voters, perpetuating their beliefs that we are inferior.

 

Tomorrow we cast our ballot to decide on how the legislation will be realized for the next four years. Secretary Clinton has plans to further liberalize the work of President Obama and implement new democratic socialist ideas, as influenced by Senator Bernie Sanders. Although we may not be entirely enthusiastic because her track record is flawed, if we seek an America that continues to work towards equality, then we shall cast our ballots for her tomorrow and deflect this old Great America that never existed for any person of color.

 

We definitely have something to lose,

Quinn 

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