When Gil Scott Heron sang “The Revolution will not be televised,” he couldn’t have imagined Donald Trump would be president in 2017.
Reality show era has de has been nothing short of a reality show filled with turns and plot twists around every corner, eerily reminiscent of an episode of Scandal. For the Black community, struggle is nothing new and although President Trump has brought out some of the worst in the country, it hasn’t stopped our resolve to be liberated from the oppressive systems which continue to affect us. Yet, there is still this faction of Black folks who have seemingly went against this notion, hoping that white appeasement will be our salvation, a method that has never worked for us.
In this week’s edition of “I thought shucking and jiving for massa would save us, Steve Harvey has become the latest to regret his decision for meeting up with 45 to discuss the Black community. According to Harvey, the meeting was “set up by Barack Obama’s outgoing team and that he and Trump discussed urban communities and even met with Ben Carson, Trump’s pick for Secretary of Urban Development (HUD).”
Since that time, he and Trump have had no further contact, to the surprise of no one. However, Harvey is not alone in this endless endeavor by several Black public figures to extend an olive branch where there is no tree.
As you may recall, 53 HBCU Presidents went to the White House to have a photo opportunity with 45 and advisor Kellyanne Conway against the wishes of the Black community. This gesture only to be undermined weeks later with Trump stating that financing specifically designated for HBCU’s may be unconstitutional, and suggesting a 4 billion dollar cut to PELL Grants; which will affect Black and Brown students.
Black Republicans like Omorosa and Paris Dennard have been staunch defenders of Trump on many issues that clearly affect the Black community. This loyalty to only be taken for granted when Trump called “violence on many sides” when discussing Antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters fighting against white supremacists and Neo-Nazi’s. Even today, with all that has occurred from the Trump administration to prove that they cannot be trusted, Dexter King is asking for our community to “give him a chance” around the DACA decision made earlier in the week.
Unfortunately, this pathology of Black folks who are willing to protect whiteness at the expense of Black bodies is nothing new, and often a learned behavior played out from generation to generation.
These folks, like many others are often led to believe that our salvation will and can only come through white leadership. We were taught that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, without the context that his heritage was what made us slaves in the first place. We have been taught to practice cognitive dissonance when discussing Washington and Jefferson, removing the notion that these men are revered as some of the founding fathers of not only this country, but white supremacy as the standard. We have been taught to be anti-Black against our own, most often time unknowingly through a K-12 education system which teaches “allegiance to a flag” that was never meant to fully represent us. The allegiance of some Black folk in spite of the nation’s current “WhiteLash” approach to politics, is disheartening, concerning, but something that was already years in the making.
In a powerful essay from Ta Nehisi Coates entitled “The First White President”, he takes us through this understanding of Donald Trump’s anti-Blackness which has always been apparent. The Birtherism movement against Barack Obama was part of a history of extreme white privilege led by the now Commander in Chief. According to Coates, “long before birtherism, Trump had made his worldview clear. He fought to keep blacks out of his buildings, according to the U.S. government; called for the death penalty for the eventually exonerated Central Park Five; and railed against “lazy” black employees. “Black guys counting my money! I hate it,” Trump was once quoted as saying. “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”
After his cabal of conspiracy theorists forced Barack Obama to present his birth certificate, Trump demanded the president’s college grades (offering $5 million in exchange for them), insisting that Obama was not intelligent enough to have gone to an Ivy League school, and that his acclaimed memoir, Dreams From My Father, had been ghostwritten by a white man, Bill Ayers.” The anti-Blackness of Donald Trump is nothing new to American politics, yet after centuries of evidence proving assimilation is a detriment to Black liberation, our people still hold out on hope that we can fix whiteness from this approach.
Black folks can’t fix white supremacy. We can fight white supremacy, and resist it, but we will never find freedom at the hands giving white folks a chance to not be white.
Black America needs an unlearning process around liberation outside of white appeasement and saviors.
The notion that we as a community must continue to work with our enemies, who have shown themselves to be more interested in our labor than liberation is detrimental to existence Blackness. The current administrations rhetoric and policies are rooted in upholding white supremacy, and any efforts made by Black folks to bridge an understanding will forever be futile.
Black tokenism is just that, and the right to be a token gives you a privilege of watching all your people drown before you are inevitably tossed to be drowned too.
Maya Angelou stated, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.”, and the time of Black community reckoning is upon us. We can no longer allow our images and bodies to be tokenized as a means of faux allyship with the oppressor that continues to stab a knife in our back.
We have no space for regret in our fight for liberation, especially when history told us to never trust whiteness to begin with.
George M. Johnson is the Managing Editor of BroadwayBlack.com. He has written for Ebony, TheGrio, TeenVogue, NBC News and several other major publications. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.