An award-winning New York Times Magazine writer has declared Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump correct about at least one of his campaign talking points — that the Democratic Party has taken black Americans for granted.
And the fact that Nikole Hannah-Jones — author of "Trump's Inconvenient Racial Truth" — happens to be black might strike some as a not-so-insignificant fact with regard to her arguments.
Hannah-Jones opens her essay recalling several Trump rally speeches in which he addressed problems in the black community. She quoted from one he gave in Wisconsin after police shot a black man in Milwaukee over the summer:
Our job is to make life more comfortable for the African-American parent who wants their kids to be able to safely walk the streets. Or the senior citizen waiting for a bus, or the young child walking home from school. For every one violent protester, there are a hundred of moms and dads and kids on the same city block who just want to be able to sleep safely at night.
Hannah-Jones noted that Trump then called out Democrats who've "failed and betrayed the African-American community" — not to mention Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton who he said “panders and talks down to communities of color” and views “them only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future.” Trump soon declared that Democrats must start competing for black votes.
And she seemed amazed by the "unexpected twist" in Trump's speech.
There was something utterly surreal about that moment. Trump had spent months whipping up his supporters, focusing on other so-called minority groups whom he labeled rapists and terrorists, and now he was telling the nearly all-white crowd that if they voted for him, he’d use his power to help black residents in the inner cities by bringing jobs back and improving their wages.
Indeed, she added, "Trump was speaking more directly about the particular struggles of working-class black Americans and describing how the government should help them more than any presidential candidate in years. Let that uncomfortable truth sink in."
Not that Hannah-Jones is championing Trump as a candidate. But she said he does make a crucial point:
What I am saying is that when Trump claims Democratic governance has failed black people, when he asks "the blacks" what they have to lose, he is asking a poorly stated version of a question that many black Americans have long asked themselves. What dividends, exactly, has their decades-long loyalty to the Democratic ticket paid them? By brushing Trump’s criticism off as merely cynical or clueless rantings, we are missing an opportunity to have a real discussion of the failures of progressivism and Democratic leadership when it comes to black Americans.
She added that since Trump turned "the usual rhetoric on its head" by insisting blacks are worse off and should ditch the Democrats, black and white progressives have been forced into the "uncomfortable position of arguing that things aren’t nearly as bad for black America as Trump would have us believe."
In the weeks before Trump’s alleged sexual improprieties overtook everything else, writers dashed off thousands of words arguing that the “inner cities” are improving (gentrification!) and that poverty is not just in the inner city but in suburban America too, and that there are lots of middle-class black folks doing just fine, thank you. Writers pointed out that Trump was wrong when he said nearly half of inner-city black children are poor when it’s actually just one-third.
"Regardless of how you feel about Trump," she wrote, "on this one thing he is right: The Democratic Party has taken black Americans for granted."
You can read Hannah-Jones' entire piece here.
(H/T: Truth Revolt)