Moderated by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday, a townhall with President Donald Trump was billed as “The President and the People.” But these weren’t the people that Trump was used to, those screaming fans who meet him for his rallies and wear his red MAGA hats. Instead, undecided voters came with hard questions and his talking points did not suffice, leaving him perhaps red in the face. Writers have highlighted what was obviously a disconnect and claimed that the President received an earful. I am not sure that he even understood some of the questions.
He flat out denied the realities of COVID-19 and his early downplaying of the virus’ deadly rate of infection though he is on the record in an interview with Bob Woodward saying the exact opposite. A twenty- four- hour news cycle, it’s been on loop for days. He should have heard himself by now. He’s absolutely impossible to miss.
When Pastor Carl Day inquired about his awareness of the tone deafness of his slogan “Make America Great Again” to the African American community, Trump talked about his approval rating among African Americans. He then responded, “I hope we don’t have a race problem.” That’s your answer? You hope?
Breonna Taylor is murdered in her home by police officers with a no- knock warrant for someone else. Ahmaud Arbery is shot while jogging by his neighbors. George Floyd dies with a knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Jacob Blake is shot seven times in the back. Protests are happening around the country in response to an increased focus on police brutality but you hope that there is not a problem.
Because the “Law and Order President” doesn’t think that race is the problem and thatis the problem. It’s just a few bad apples on the police force, a few looters mixed in that have spoiled the whole thing. No strategy except more force to shut down protests and to shout down voices that scream loudly, “No justice, no peace!” Because he wants quiet city and suburban streets so as not to worry his “pretty little head.”
Businessman and real estate manager, Trump doesn’t want to hear from his citizen- tenants. He is not fixing anything. Just be glad that you live here and not in some other country. Just get back to work, back to shopping, back to doing as this capitalist system dictates.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Barr compared the measures taken to decrease the spread of COVID-19 that has claimed the lives of nearly a million people globally and almost 200,000 American citizens to slavery in the United States. You heard me. Wearing a mask is like being kidnapped from your home country, chained to other human beings and forced into the bowels of a ship to be transported to what is now the United States, beaten, in many cases raped and sold to the highest bidder to then work for free for the rest of your life. Wearing a mask is like being enslaved for life. Yes, I totally see the comparison and how Barr moved from mask- wearing to being branded as another human being’s property. This is evidence of another disconnect.
And I don’t have much hope for President Trump or Attorney General Barr. Barr claimed back in June that there is no systemic racism. But he was U.S. Attorney General in 1992under then President George H. W. Bush and when Rodney King was beaten, hit with police batons at least 56 times. There was a video of the beating of an unarmed King. Still the offices were acquitted. Almost twenty years later, he’s still seeing the same footage though now on camera phones.
Perhaps, he has been at the job too long. We need new eyes and persons with ears to hear the cries for justice. Because you have to know when something is imbedded in a system and when something is tone deaf. We cannot hope that these government leaders will one day hear and see it. This is not the kind of hope they, you or I need.
Because this kind of hope is not an acknowledgement of the reality of racialized violence or a strategy to bring about its end. Simply hoping that police stop killing unarmed African American people, hoping that America will right hundreds of years of wrong thoughts, speech, behaviors and practices used against African American people, hoping that one day we will no longer believe in the sociopolitical construct of race, in the educational, social, spiritual and political purity of whiteness will not make racism go away.
The next time Americans are picking their leaders, I hope we can do better than this.