Political Focus: Race relations and the Trump presidency

Melissa Deatsch, Sports Editor

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President Donald Trump’s election win has come with concern from many different communities fearing for their safety and rights. Political Focus has examined the concerns of many immigrants and members of the LGBT community in articles since the election.

Inauguration Day has come and gone, and the nation has said goodbye to its first African-American president and sworn in its 45th, whose campaign was littered with controversial statements surrounding the racial tension that exists in the U.S.

Many civil rights groups are now in fear of what’s to come. This week’s Political Focus will address the legitimacy of some of the many concerns surrounding race relations and the Trump presidency.

Trump’s racist history

The Hillary Clinton campaign hit Trump hard with historical evidence of Trump’s racial discrimination. It pointed to a racial discrimination lawsuit in 1973 against Trump’s real estate company. The lawsuit was based on evidence that “black people were told no apartments were available in Trump properties,” while white people “were immediately offered apartments” during the same timeframe.

Trump’s response to this during the first presidential debate was not much more than to say the suit was settled “with no admission of guilt” and that this was a lawsuit commonly brought against real estate companies at that time.

Another anger-inducing fact dug up from Trump’s past were his claims, dating back to 2011, that then-President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. This claim, made with no basis in reality and with no presentation of evidence, seemed to many like an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the country’s first African-American president.

Racially ignorant comments on the campaign trail

In an attempt to appeal to more black voters, Trump said the following at a rally in Dimondale, Michigan:

“Look at how much African-American communities are suffering from Democratic control. To those, I say the following: What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump? What do you have to lose? You live in your poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?”

There are a couple of things to note. First, at the time, the official unemployment rate for black youths aged 16-19 was 25.2 percent, not 58 percent, according to USA Today.

Second, many people viewed this statement as painting with a broad brush to assume this is the situation for all black voters and that they had no other option than to vote for Trump.

The 8 percent he did convince

Trump did secure the vote of 8 percent of black voters on Election Day. This is relatively average for Republican candidates. Romney had 6 percent in 2012, but according the PEW Research Center, Republicans tend to receive an average of 8-12 percent of black votes.

So, how did Trump convince 8 percent to vote for him among all of these racism concerns?

Lydia O’Neal of the International Business Times explained, “conservative black voters across the U.S. pointed to the sluggish economic recovery and immigration-friendly policies under the Obama administration as a driver in their support for Trump.”

In his campaign, Trump said he intends to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., create a childcare tax deduction for the working middle class and expand city law enforcement.

These policies are seen to conservative black voters as better ways to combat the issues concerning African-Americans than those put forth by President Obama or Hillary Clinton.

The 8 percent saw the benefits that could come from the implementation of these policies as greater concerns than any of the aforementioned issues of racial discrimination and ignorance.

Looking to the future

A big concern going forward is that the presidential victory of an arguably racist man legitimizes white-supremacist views that have resulted in the loss of so many innocent lives.

A victory party for Trump thrown by the Ku Klux Klan made many people nervous, as well as a series of racist graffiti that appeared across the country upon Trump’s win. Trump has dismissed the graffiti and the KKK, calling their efforts “repulsive.”

In regard to Trump’s policies, the country anxiously waits to see which of his campaign promises will become reality.

In addition to that, will the policies that he’s able to implement bring more benefits to the black community than those put forth by past Democrats?

As black conservative activist Johms Gool told the International Business Times, “If Donald Trump delivers what he promised, he will flip the black vote. If he does not, he’ll lose the 8 percent he got.”