There is a peculiar kind of madness to being black in America these days.
It has never been easy. However, not since the first Post-Reconstruction era have the civil rights, civil liberties, basic citizenship, and very humanity of African Americans been under such withering and open assault by the leader our federal government.
Yet, such are the times we live in under the presidency of Donald J. Trump.
In fact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian Jon Meacham, a southerner, recently described him as the most racist president in the history of this nation since President Andrew Johnson, who was a flagrant racist from Tennessee. Jackson ascended to the presidency upon the 1865 assassination of President Lincoln. Once in office he immediately went about trying to reverse the outcome of the Civil War and Constitutional amendments that provided freedom and constitutional protections for freed slaves.
Even the late Alabama segregationist Gov. George Wallace’s daughter recently said that Trump was a worse bigot than her father.
Most people are aware of Trump’s toxic, white supremacist rhetoric targeting people of color, however, not many are aware of how his administration’s actions go far beyond words. His administration is aggressively working on what can only be characterized as white supremacist policy to undermine decades of hard-fought civil rights gains of African Americans in every possible way.
It is the packing of the courts with literal bigots who refuse to acknowledge that the 1954 Supreme Court Brown v Board of Education was rightly decided. His Justice Department, under Attorney General William Barr, is collaborating with Republicans to rig elections by encouraging the racial gerrymandering of voting districts and attacking African American and Hispanic citizens’ right to vote by allowing other voter suppression schemes.
His Department of Education is reversing decades’ old policy meant to protect children of color from discriminatory treatment in school and his Housing and Urban Development Department – headed by Detroit’s own Ben Carson – is undermining fair housing laws and even moving to stop efforts to prevent redlining in housing.
Trump’s DOJ has even gone as far as to refuse to recognize consent decrees between police departments and communities with a history of discriminatory and violent behavior against people of color. And it recently re-imposed the death penalty after the courts found it to be applied discriminately against African Americans.
I can go on and on, but you get the point.
As I have noted, there have been racist presidents before Trump and will be after he is gone. However, you have to go back 100 years, during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, to find the level of hostility toward blacks and other people of color, that we are witnessing from the White House today.
During Wilson’s time the Ku Klux Klan was at its peak and marching on Washington, D.C. by the tens of thousands. The lynchings of African Americans were rampant during the “Red Summer” of 1919 when white soldiers came back from World War I and engaged in the massacre and widespread assault of black citizens across the country. These anti-black white supremacist terrorist attacks occurred in more than three dozen cities and one rural county over the course of that year.
Wilson, himself, was an open white supremacist and suspected by many black leaders at that time of secretly being a member of the Klan. He did little to nothing to stop the acts of violence against African Americans.
Today, mainstream African American leaders and politicians are virtually unanimous in their condemnation of Trump as a racist. In fact, most black journalists no longer even qualify the noun “racist” with the adjective “alleged” when describing the president.
And neither should we as publishers of African American newspapers and other media platforms.
We are obligated to deliver the truth to our readers as seen through the eyes of the black community. And as sobering as the thought may be, there can be no doubt that for the first time in most of our lifetimes, African Americans are confronted with a President who is an open racist, who advocates for policies specifically designed to harm our interests, and thus, the interests of our nation.
Such is the black man and woman’s burden – once again.