… about actions taken by President Trump aimed at helping Black People?
… about actions taken by President Trump aimed at helping Black People?
A constant refrain of much, if not most, of the media (New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC and most of the well-known media outlets) and the Democratic Party is that Donald Trump is a racist. In doing a geometric proof, the truth of certain assertions has to be demonstrated but axioms, such as the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, don’t have to be proved; it’s a given or is evidently true. For most of aforementioned news outlets, Trump’s alleged racism is asserted as an evident truth, an axiom that requires no justification or explanation. Yet if we dispassionately look at the record and actions of President Donald Trump over the past four years, they are at variance with the axiomatic assertion that Donald Trump is a racist. What follows below is a list of actions taken by Trump in the past four years which contradict the charge of racism brought against him.
- Posthumous pardon of heavyweight champion boxer, Jack Johnson
a. In 1913, Jack Johnson, a black man, was convicted by an all-white Chicago jury on a contrived “morals’ charge under the Mann Act, a federal law that made it illegal to cross state lines with a woman “for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose.”1 Supporters of Jack Johnson and congressional leaders had sought a pardon for Johnson for years. A bill requesting a pardon from George W. Bush passed the House of Representatives in 2008 but died in the Senate under the leadership of Harry Reid, Democrat majority leader. Congressional leaders requested a pardon from President Obama in 2016, which was not granted. Obama’s Justice Department had recommended against a pardon in 2009.2
b. President Donald R. Trump posthumously pardoned Jack Johnson on May 18, 2018.
The featured image above is the White House ceremony of the signing of Jack Johnson’s pardon.2
c. The charge brought against Johnson was clearly racially motivated, mainly for two reasons. In the 1910 boxing match for the heavyweight championship of the world, Johnson whipped the “Great White Hope”, James Jeffries, so badly that it was said that riots were caused when Black People went into restaurants saying “I want my coffee strong as Jack Johnson and my steak beat up like Jeffries”. You might say that he had humiliated White People, in the eyes of the white racists, by crushing their “Great White Hope”. The second factor was that Jack Johnson liked white women and married two of them, clearly an affront to white supremacists.
d. So I ask this question. How could someone who pardoned a black man who defied the notion of white supremacy by destroying the white supremacist’s hope and by violating the white supremacist’s taboo by marrying white women be himself a white supremacist? It doesn’t compute.
- Commutation and pardon were given to an African-American woman, Alice Johnson, who was serving a life sentence for a drug related conviction.
The sentence imposed was considered to be excessive. Furthermore, she had been incarcerated for 21 years.
- Pushed for passage and signed into law the prison reform bill, First Step Act, which resulted in the freeing of thousands of black prisoners and issued an executive order on police reform.
African-American commentator, Van Jones, host of the Van Jones Show and the Redemption Project and CNN contributor, had this to say about the First Step Act: “There is a Christmas miracle underway. For the first time in a generation, Republicans and Democrats are arm-in-arm tonight saying we are sending too many people to prison. … Hakeem Jeffries on the left, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump on the right, have brought together a coalition like I have never seen. … Something beautiful is happening and it is not that you have to see it to believe it, you have to believe it to see it (italics added). It is happening right now, people coming together to help the people who have nothing. And it is amazing.”3
Van Jones’ words are not only truthful but are so eloquently stated that they touched something inside of me. My plea to my fellow Americans of African Heritage is that we believe the things we see Donald Trump doing. They are actually happening.
On June 16, 2020, President Trump issued an executive order on police reform (https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-safe-policing-safe-communities/). Van Jones secretly attended White House meetings to help craft the President’s executive order, something he has gotten a lot of heat for, from his fellow Americans of African Heritage.
- Creation of Opportunity Zones
Opportunity zones are economically distressed communities where investors may receive tax credits for economic activities in the zone that create economic opportunities for the people living there. Many areas that are economically distressed are predominately black. Evidently this incentive program has enjoyed some success.
- Funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
A bill signed by President Trump on December 19, 2019 helps HBCUs in two ways: (1) increases the amount of funding from the Federal government and (2) makes the funding permanent for 10 years. Therefore, the institutions do not have to apply for funding every year but, instead, are now on a 10-year funding cycle.
- The Platinum Plan (https://cdn.donaldjtrump.com/public-files/press_assets/president-trump-platinum-plan-final-version.pdf)
The Platinum Plan was developed in corporation with black rapper/entertainer Ice Cube who came up with a Contract with Black America, calling for reforms to close the opportunity gap in the country, which he shared with the leadership of both Democrats and Republicans. In the words of Ice Cube, “Facts: I put out the [Contract with Black America],” … “Both parties contacted me. Dems said we’ll address the CWBA after the election. Trump campaign made some adjustments to their plan after talking to us about the CWBA.”4 Ice Cube met with Jared Kushner for three hours. The result of their interaction was the Platinum Plan which you can see by clicking on the link above. It is a very comprehensive document.
The four pillars of the plan are: Opportunity, Security, Prosperity, and Fairness. In a sense, it is Trump’s contract with Black America.
Other actions by the President that benefited the Black Community
In addition to the above actions aimed at directly benefiting Americans of African Heritage, there are actions that have been taken by President Trump that have benefited Black People, sometimes more than in proportion to the general population, even though they did not directly target Black People. What is said below applies to the 3 years up to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- Tight labor market resulting from record low unemployment.
Large wage increases. Indeed for a long time, real wages were stagnant. During the first three years of the Trump administration the biggest increase in real wages has been at the low end of the wage scale and black wage earners have been the recipients of these increases.
Black unemployment fell to historically low levels.
2. Black labor force participation rates increased to record levels; a larger percentage of the black working age population was in the labor force and working.There was an enormous increase in household incomes.
3. Slowing down the amount of illegal immigration has been a factor in the increases in real wages for working class Americans. The avalanche of illegal immigrants has clearly been one of the factors depressing the wages of working class Americans.
4. The poverty rate among African-Americans fell to historically low rates as the overall poverty rate fell to 11.8% by 2019.
5. Food Stamp dependency fell. Between February 2017 and the summer of 2019, a total of 6,268,285 individuals were able to get off the food stamp program.
6. Blacks benefited from manufacturing job creation over the past three years.
The benefits of the robust economy of the past four year have been widespread across income classes. It was not an expansion that benefited the rich at the expense of the poor. Indeed the wealth gap actually lessened. The tax cuts did not just benefit the rich, when benefit is reckoned in terms of decrease in federal taxes paid. The lower half of the income scale essentially pay no federal income taxes on net. The higher standards deductions benefited everyone who filed a federal tax return. Also a benefit for everyone was the simplification of tax filing.
I will end this post with another quote from Van Jones:
“Donald Trump — and I get beat up by liberals every time I say this, but I’m gonna keep saying it — he has done good stuff for the black community,” Jones said on CNN, where he is a frequent contributor. “Opportunity zone stuff, black college stuff. I worked with him on criminal justice stuff. I saw Donald Trump have African American people, formerly incarcerated, in the White House — embraced them, treated them well. There’s a side to Donald Trump that I think he does not get enough credit for.”5
Notes and References
- Bogage, Jacob (2018). Jack Johnson, boxer jailed under Jim Crow, is being considered by Trump for pardon. Accessed at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2018/04/21/who-is-jack-johnson-the-boxer-trump-is-considering-for-posthumous-pardon/
2. Eligon, John and Michael D. Shear (2018). Trump Pardons Jack Johnson, heavyweight boxing champion. “… in late 2009, Robert Gibbs, the president’s press secretary, told reporters that the Justice Department had recommended against a pardon.” Accessed at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/24/sports/jack-johnson-pardon-trump.html
3. Quoted in David Horowitz (2020). Blitz. Humanix Books: http://www.humanixbooks.com. p. 182.
5. Levine, Jon (October 24, 2020). Ex-Obama adviser Van Jones says Trump ‘has done good stuff for the black community’, New York Post. Accessed at https://nypost.com/2020/10/24/van-jones-trump-has-done-good-stuff-for-the-black-community/