“The blacks” aren’t here to do the hard work for you, Donald.
Donald Trump’s surprise press conference last Thursday was to introduce his second choice for Labor Secretary, which became necessary because his first choice, fast food executive Andrew Puzder, withdrew his nomination the day before. While the ugly allegations of physical abuse levied against him by his ex-wife was the headline story, and other alarming concerns came to light, ultimately it was his advocacy for immigration that cost him Republican support, making his potential confirmation practically impossible. So Trump immediately announced that Alexander Acosta would be his new choice.
Of course, that cabinet choice is now a footnote if it’s even mentioned at all, because a presser that would be numbingly routine with any other president turned into an absolute shitshow with Agent Orange at the mic. The boldfaced lies, delusions of grandeur, pettiness, insecurity, etc. made for an unhinged hour plus spectacle that was peak Cheeto Satan, even by his bottom-feeding standards. It came complete with him brazenly talking about what nuclear warfare with Russia could look like — imagine what he says about Iran during his “classified” security briefings?
There was a lot to be shocked, horrified, and angry about. But one of the lowest moments was Trump’s exchange with 20-year veteran White House Correspondent April Ryan (who is Black), where he asked her to arrange a meeting for him with the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss his “inner-city agenda” because he presumed that a) Ryan knew all of them and b) she was their secretary and not an independent journalist.
Of course the CBC wrote a letter to Trump asking for a such meeting last month and he never responded but we should all know by now that facts don’t mean shit to him or his administration unless they can be bent to glorify him. But it’s particularly galling that a man who was eager to discuss his “inner-city agenda” with the likes of Steve Harvey, Kanye West, Jim Brown, and Ray Lewis not only couldn’t be bothered to do the same with actual Black lawmakers and elected officials but insist that a Black woman he doesn’t know should do a task that’s clearly not within her job description. Yes, this is the same man who appointed Ben Carson — a surgeon — as HUD secretary simply because Carson gave Trump a tour of his old Detroit hood, but still, what the fuck did Trump hire Omarosa for?
In a nutshell, Trump’s exchange with Ryan encapsulates what too much of White America repeatedly demands: that Black people — and especially Black women — do the hard and dirty work of making progress that far too many White people refuse to do themselves. Similar to Trump himself, they would rather do the barest of minimums in order to look good in front of their peers than do real work where they might be challenged by the very Black people they claim to want to help and also may force them to confront the racism that’s present within their own circles.
Trump’s actions are pathetic, sad, and inexcusable even if as many as three-fifths of the CBC would have followed Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) example and passed on meeting with him. That would be an absolute cakewalk compared to what President Obama faced with a GOP-controlled Congress so hellbent on destroying him that for two years they refused to confirm Cassandra Butts, his pick for the U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas, and even told her they were doing so in order to spite him. I’m sure at least some of them were even happy that the process ended when she suddenly died of leukemia before having a second hearing for her confirmation.
Trump spent some of Thursday’s spectacle whining about the “mess” he inherited and what a difficult job he has. I’m sure that would make Barack laugh if Michelle even allowed him to hear about it while they lounge on whatever Hawaiian beach they’re at right now, a vacation they have certainly earned after eight years of pulling America out from the brink of collapse with almost no help and without complaint. But Darth Cheeto could shoot someone at the White House, eat a baby on live television, and follow that by pulling his dick out and masturbate in front of a CNN reporter and it won’t matter at all to his base of White supporters who believe they were oppressed by Obama, victimized by “identity politics,” and CNN is “fake news” anyway. Folks like Glenn Greenwald, Jill Stein, and Susan Sarandon would still find a way to blame Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party for this mess because they’re “neoliberal corporate shills” or whatever, Bernie Sanders would again pile onto their attacks to promote his “socialist revolution”, and Michael Moore would chime in on how the White Working Class — aka “the people” — need to take over the Democratic Party, because it’s all about their “economic anxiety” (maybe Common should have made a song about them).
This isn’t right, it isn’t okay, and it damn sure ain’t funny. A lot folks — particularly women of color and especially Black women — have been organizers and activists in their communities for years. Their jobs and their lives, which were difficult and challenging to begin with, have become so much more difficult and infinitely more dangerous since November 9th, and unnecessarily so. And that’s entirely because so many White folks chose to put their delusional notions of whiteness above everything else, be it conservatives who equate Betsy DeVos with Ruby Bridges or “progressives” who treat activism as a recreational sport — and one that puts their needs front and center while leaving everyone else with crumbs. Now that Trump will actually meet with the CBC, maybe they can suggest that he ask Kanye to set up a meeting with Chance The Rapper to discuss his agenda with the “inner city” of Chicago. I’m sure Chance would have plenty to say about that.