This commentary offers a perspective of Trump from a time before his
election. It was originally published by AtlantaBlackStar.com in
April of 2016.
he began the presidential election season as a source of
entertainment and the fodder for political humor, Donald Trump has
emerged as the front-runner in the Republican race for the White
House. While much attention has been focused on which of the two
Democratic presidential candidates is better for Black America, only
now are some beginning to focus attention on the implications and
consequences of a Trump victory.
Susan Sarandon drew criticism when she suggested that a Trump victory
would bring about a revolution in the U.S.
people feel that Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately
if he gets in, things will really explode,” Sarandon told MSNBC
host Chris Hayes on March 25.
Poe — a Ferguson, Missouri activist and rapper who accompanied
the parents of slain teen Michael Brown to Geneva, Switzerland in
2014 to testify before the United Nations Human Rights Council —
was even more blunt: “Dear white people if Trump wins young
niggas such as myself are fully hell bent on inciting riots
everywhere we go. Just so you know,” Poe tweeted.
as celebrities such as Samuel L. Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Omari
Hardwick, Raven-Symoné and Eddie Griffin have vowed they would
leave the country if Trump is elected.
Donald Trump is the nominee … I’m also reserving my
ticket to get out of here if he wins. Only because he’d
probably have me deported anyhow,” said Rev. Al Sharpton at a
Center for American Progress Action Fund event in February, as he was
met with laughs and applause, according to The
Jason M. Williams, assistant professor at Fairleigh Dickinson
University and Criminal Justice Chair of the Hampton Institute, views
a Trump victory as a major setback.
Trump presidency would be a massive loss to racial, gender, class and
overall social equality. While the U.S. still has ways to go
regarding the issues mentioned above, a Trump presidency would
severely hinder our ability to move forward in unison,”
Williams, author of “A Critical Analysis of Race and the Administration of Justice,” told Atlanta
during his campaign, has often appealed to the fears of disregarded
Whites, mostly from the poor and working classes. He has empowered
them in the worst kinds of ways, depending entirely on their
insecurity to gain their votes,” Williams offered. “Trump
has led the parade on the reemergence of the anti-immigrant narrative
which seeks to blame immigrants for all of the sudden losses of
Whites. Trump has blamed immigrants for lost wages for Americans
(mainly Whites), crime and lack of border security, and the so-called
dwindling of American exceptionalism. His presidency would bring
America back to a pre-’60s atmosphere in a time when America is
at its most diverse, and the mythological belief of post-racialism
will undoubtedly be exposed for the lie that it is.”
Harpalani, an associate professor of law at Savannah Law School, said
he is more troubled by what Trump says and represents for white
America than any specific policies the man would promote as
main concern about Donald Trump is not even about him: It is about
how his incendiary rhetoric and extreme positions promote
expressions of racism and embolden latent racism
that exists in our society today. The progress we have made in the
past half-century has not been about eradicating racism as much as it
has about pushing it underground,” Harpalani, whose scholarship
focuses on race and racial identity, education and constitutional
law, told Atlanta
much more work needs to be done, at least we live in a society now
where Black people and other people of color can openly advance to
leadership and other prominent positions more than they ever could
have in the past. President Obama is, of course, the hallmark example
of this,” Harpalani added. “But of course, this type of
progress does not mean that racism and racist attitudes are gone, or
that we live in a ‘post-racial society.’ Donald Trump
and his supporters are showing us very vividly that racist rhetoric
still flames the passions of many Americans — and particularly
working-class White Americans who have been marginalized by the elite
but are still more apt to blame people of color for this
believes that Trump’s potential to empower angry white men
would exceed the dangers of his White House agenda.
fear of Trump is not as much of his policy: I believe he would have
to compromise on his extreme positions, and while the results may not
be good, they won’t be as extreme as his current rhetoric.
What I fear more is that his election would send a message that it is
OK to engage in incendiary racist rhetoric against people of color
and that White males may even be rewarded for doing so,”
law professor added that while he is not as concerned today about the
prospect of a Trump victory — as he believes the candidate’s
chances of winning are slipping — such a scenario would be
fraught with danger for African-Americans.
while a Trump presidency might galvanize Black activism, this would
not be a safe environment for people of color to live and thrive in,
and to continue our advances in the context of American society.
Black people, and people of color more generally, have reason and
incentive to mobilize right now; the #BlackLivesMatter movement has
shown us this. A Trump presidency may give more reason, but I do not
believe it would be worth the costs to the everyday lives and dignity
of people of color.”
specter of recent racial violence against Black protesters at Donald
Trump’s campaign rallies
— incited by the candidate himself and reminiscent of the 1968
presidential campaign of George Wallace — supports both
Harapalani’s and Williams’ concerns. Trump enjoys
support from white
such as the Ku Klux Klan. Further, as the New
York Daily News
reported, the name “Trump” has become a code word for
derogatory and racist statements. Trump’s racist rhetoric has
spread to high school sports games, with students shouting racial
slurs and chants such as “Donald Trump, build that wall”
to predominantly Black and Latino opposing teams.
Wise, an anti-racist essayist and educator, agrees that a Trump White
House would be catastrophic from a public policy perspective, and
would exhibit hostility toward people of color, including Latinos and
the #BlackLivesMatter movement for police accountability. However,
Wise — the author of “Under the Affluence: Shaming the
Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America”—
dismisses as “historic nonsense” any notion that Trump
would bring on the revolution. Rather, he concludes that the result
would be uprising, but no substantial change.
a lot of romanticizing of revolution by people who have never been in
a revolution and have never studied a revolution,” Wise said to
“From the perspective of what counteraction it would provoke,
I have no doubt it would create counter-protests. But too many on the
Left romanticize about what that would be,” he said of a Trump
electoral win. “We think things have to get bad before they
get better. Not once did things get bad and a revolution happened.
All revolutions succeed not when things get worse but when they get
better, at times of moderate reform,” Wise added.
that “almost by definition the election of Donald Trump
signifies that America would be willing to unleash all kinds of
horror on Black and Brown people,” Wise argues that a President
Trump “would respond the way fascists do. Most of the American
public will respond favorably to the beating up of protesters. They
will side with the state in cracking down on protesters.”
opposed to consummate politicians such as Hillary Clinton who are
pliable by social protest movements, Trump is unmovable, Wise
bent because of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Wise. “Donald
Trump is a narcissistic authoritarian who believes himself to be
right at all times, and he will not change his direction, regardless
how many people are in the streets. I believe he would have his
goons, of which there are many. He would bring in the National
Guard,” Wise said.
good news about the current people of color-led movement is, I don’t
see them letting up in the face of a Hillary Clinton administration.
If she wins, these movements would be in the streets,” Wise
offered. “My guess is Trump is simply beyond the reach of
protest movements. Unless you are rolling up the revolution —
with the guillotine — there is no degree of revolutionary
action that will make a difference” with Trump, he said.
Wise, Dr. Ron Daniels will not entertain the notion of a Trump
presidency as a means of bringing about revolution.
not with this notion of Trump should win, the old-line Leftist notion
that if disaster strikes, it’s good because people will
organize better, and all that,” said Daniels, who is president
of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished
Lecturer at York College of the City University of New York.
never been a part of that….I don’t advocate suffering.
In fact, it’s the other way around. People tend to be much more
engaged when there’s hope and when they have possibilities, not
when they’re being brutalized but they’ve lost, you
know,” he added.
he does not believe Trump will win the general election.
the best-case scenario for me is actually that Trump will win the
[Republican] nomination, and that Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic
nomination, which is also hypothetical at this point. Simply because
what that would mean is that we would really have a serious shot at a
Democratic Socialist winning the presidency of the United States.
Bernie Sanders would actually defeat Trump, and I think I see that
from the vantage point of the progressives as a huge step forward,”
Daniels said. “Because the kind of vision that Sanders is
articulating — a bold vision in terms of policy prescriptions
which I think we have needed for some time — it would be a good
thing because it would advance a progressive agenda in a way that I
think has been needed for a long time.”
a practical matter, it seems to me what is what is going to happen is
that the Republican Party has been singed by the fire that it
unleashed, because it’s been tolerating this kind of right-wing
extremism in all of its different forms — some of which are
quite malignant — for quite some time,” Daniels
suggested, noting that Trump and Ted Cruz are damaging the Republican
also pointed back to Reagan’s appeal to racists up to the
present-day Republican party’s anti-immigration posture.
Ultimately, he believes the “incremental, practical Democratic
Leadership Centrist politics” of Clinton will prevail, which in
his opinion “will not be as bold a step forward as we would
have hoped.” Daniels also believes the “culture of
rights” has been seriously eroded with the assault of the right
wing, “but with the capitulation of the Democrats and to some
degree aided and abetted by the Clintons.”
Chairman Omali Yeshitela of the Africa People’s Socialist Party
takes a somewhat different approach. The founder of the Uhuru
Movement — an African Internationalist organization based in
St. Petersburg, Florida — Yeshitela is against Trump but does
not single out Trump as a special threat to Black people. Further,
Yeshitela takes issue with those who call Trump a proto-fascist and
say that fascism is right around the corner. Rather, he says that
people of color are fighting against colonialism, whether of a
fascist or non-fascist variety.
— not usually, all the time — when we hear this thing
about ‘fight against fascism,’ what we’re hearing
is, fight against a problem that white people have, as opposed to the
ingrained, fundamental, historical, unrelenting contradiction that
Black people have suffered from fascist and non-fascist colonialists
alike,” Yeshitela told Atlanta
“The fact is that all of Europe, this country right now that
we live in, has concentration camps. Some are called Indian
reservations. Some are called prisons and housing projects that
nonwhite people are in, and I’m supposed to be frightened by
this phenomenon that they call fascism that attacks white people?”
was not a fascist that killed Lumumba. It was Lyndon Baines Johnson
that overthrew Kwame Nkrumah. It was Kennedy and Eisenhower, a
Republican and a Democrat that conspired with the Belgians to kill
Lumumba. And we’re supposed to be afraid of fascists when the
non-fascist and fascist white people are slaughtering us all around
the world?” he asks.
concludes that Trump is a reflection of a “crisis of
imperialism” in America and elsewhere, in which an economic
crisis has led to a political crisis. People have come to the
realization, he said, that the system cannot solve their problems.
and Sanders have thrown monkey wrenches in the system because it’s
been a tightly controlled, well-organized system that is rigged”
through the Electoral College and rules that favor “a narrow
group of people” who must follow the “script that has
been created by the system,” he said.
you have a cat like Trump who is not hired, doesn’t have all
the paid guys, is not working according to the scripts they have
generally created, and is challenging many of the economic ventures,”
Yeshitela added. “For example, Trump is something to the left
of even everyone in the Democratic Party when it comes to foreign
policy, war and stuff like that.”
he argues that the policies Trump advocates — such as the
torture of Muslims and a border wall — are already in practice.
has kicked out more immigrants, more Mexicans than any president in
history. But Trump is the one who’s saying it, and he doesn’t
participate — like the rest of the bourgeoisie in the system
requires — in saying one thing and then doing something else.”
Yeshitela offers that the billionaire is not following the rules, and
is “challenging the economic resources of a host of sectors of
the bourgeoisie. And they are troubled in both the Democratic and
the Republican Party — all of them at this moment are working
Trump has done is he has gone outside the parameters of how this
thing should be done,” he said.
Sanders and Trump have overlapping support among masses of white
people…They have been able to mobilize thousands of white
people who might ordinarily not even be involved in the political
arena: People who are tired of the Clintons, people who are tired of
the establishment and who have concluded that the social system does
not solve their problems, doesn’t speak to them,” said
Yeshitela. “They’re energized now because there is a
Trump and a Sanders who have gone outside and directly to them, but
particularly about Trump. Trump is really the one that really
threatens the setup as it is right now.”
Yeshitela believes the problem for Black people is that they do not
have a politics of self-determination, but rather “chain
politics” that have replaced the politics of protest.
reason we find ourselves in this trap is because Malcolm was
murdered, King was murdered, the Black Panther Party destroyed.
Revolutionary forces throughout this country and around the
world….Where Malcolm was saying ‘the ballot or the
bullet;’ where the Panthers were saying ‘political power
comes from the barrel of a gun;’ where SNCC was saying ‘Black
Power,’ now we hear stuff like ‘Black Lives Matter,’
‘Feel the Bern’ and ‘Ready for Hillary.’ What
kind of politics is that coming from?”