What Trump-Era Politics Look Like to a Black Woman - By Maia Raynor

Politics look a lot different to folks who were never able to trust the system in the first place, having been consistently forced to bend to the whim of the American political machine. I’m referring to people of color, non-cis men, poor people, and those consistently pushed to the margins. From my liberal bastion of Massachusetts, it seems like everyone knows that Trump is a straight up racist, sexist, xenophobic, and immoral human tanning bed. If for some reason you’re unconvinced, take a look at this charming video of America’s President berating Boy Scouts like they’re Hitler Youth. But Trump is just the icing on top of the shituation that is Capitol Hill. Many of his underlings, who wield incredible amounts of power, are taking his rhetoric and running with it in ways that may not seem too nefarious. However, I have an excellent sense of smell for racist political bullshit given my two decades on earth as a person of color.  Yes, there was Obama, but despite those eight glorious years black people knew that the good times weren’t going to last forever. Some even argue that Obama’s Presidential tenure was detrimental overall for black and brown Americans and people of color worldwide.

At this point you may be saying to yourself, “Well, duh, everything is bad we literally have a flaming hot cheeto as a President,” but in the case of many Americans, subtle policy changes throughout government agencies go unnoticed. Here’s a few that may have flown under the radar:

  1. “Voter Fraud is a real problem in America:”

One of Trump’s first actions as President was establishing his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, the purpose of which is to “review ways to strengthen the integrity of elections in order to protect and preserve the principle of one person, one vote because the integrity of the vote is the foundation of our democracy” according to The White House. But rather than actually investigate the very minimal cases of voter fraud (it’s more likely to be hit by a tornado, while having your first kiss with the love of your life than to have an election impacted by voter fraud) the Commission has spent more time purging the voter rolls of states who have complied with its increasingly invasive demands. Many voters have unknowingly been stricken from the voter registry through the actions of the Commission. Policy recommendations by the Commission are actually thought to make it harder for voters of color, rural voters, elderly voters, and poor and low income voters to get registered and get to the polls. They want to eliminate early voting and increase ID laws for voter registration in the name of protecting election integrity.  What they really want is to disable black and brown voters from making their voices heard because the 2016 election was too close for conservative comfort.

    2. “We must return to a time of law and order”

Hmmmm this sounds familiar. Where have I heard such asinine bullshit before? Trump is reigniting Nixon-era policies that lead to the War on Drugs, increased police brutality, and the rise in the prison industrial complex. For some, law and order means keeping the peace, but for people of color we know that peace is the last thing we will see under this restructuring. When police are given more power, they are trained to stereotype, criminalize and discriminate. Trump has begun to urge police to loosen the belt on their common decency in a now infamous statement regarding protocol when placing people in the back of police cars. But perhaps Trump was just fangirling over Dick Wolf’s never-ending hit show, who knows?

   3. “Skinny repeal”

The Senate Republicans' highly chaotic attempts at repealing Obamacare failed time and time again, thank goodness. But one attempt stood out to me: the “skinny repeal.” It’s as if they thought, “Hmmm, maybe framing the loss of healthcare for millions like the new diet tea will convince them.” Not only are black and brown people particularly more vulnerable to losing health care benefits under a skinny repeal, but the history of America’s healthcare system has continually used black and brown bodies for its own gain. The Tuskegee Syphilis experiments led to the deaths of hundreds of southern black men. Forced sterilizations in Puerto Rico and other parts of the continental U.S. have eroded any trust black folks in those areas had in the healthcare system. Sterilizations have been incentivized in black and brown communities to this day. Healthcare in America is built on white supremacy, that includes the skinny version, the low carb, and the gluten free. When they said skinny repeal, what they meant was taking away essential services to replace the revenue lost from a tax code that lessens taxes on the rich.  

  4. Grand Jury called in Trump-Russia probe

Black people have a knee-jerk reaction when words like “grand jury” are rolled out. It reminds me of the grueling months after the deaths of so many black and brown Americans, women, men, trans, and the seemingly inevitable "not guilty" verdicts that followed. Grand juries are not to be trusted. Just look at  some of the grossest miscarriages of justice black americans have faced recently. Take the murder of Philando Castille, a black man who was pulled over by a police officer, acknowledged that his weapon was in the car, and was shot dead in a matter of seconds. Everything was captured by the officer’s dashboard camera and a subsequent Facebook Livestream, yet no guilty verdict was rendered. Sure, let’s put Trump in the hot seat and probe the Russia issue, but let’s be real and let’s not get our hopes up.

Thinly veiled lies and changes in rhetoric can placate an entire society into going along with unjust policies. Unless you’re part of a group that’s continually on the political margins like black people, you may be unaware of this deception. And that’s the point unfortunately. We must keep our eyes peeled and our newsfeeds refreshed; call bullshit out when you see it, even if you’re not sure, because incorrectly identifying bullshit isn’t as bad as stepping right into it, am i right? Stay woke y’all.

Greer Clem