Black America will survive President Donald Trump.
But his presidency, even if he is only elected to one term, will leave Trump with sweeping federal authority and influence to reverse more than 50 years of Civil Rights legislation and ratchet up anti-black sentiments among the legions of voters who buoyed his lopsided electoral vote tally. Exit polling shows that Trump ran away with 63% of white males and 52% of white women.
His success in evoking fears among white voters that America’s borders are being flooded by rapists and drug dealers from Mexico, Syrian refugees who are entering the country to commit acts of terror, and Black Lives Matter activists who are inciting violence against law enforcement guarantees that civil rights will be the farthest thing from his agenda once he is sworn into office. Instead, Trump could usher in a new era of de facto segregation and repression, a Jim Crow 2.0.
As Republican-lead state houses around the country enacted restrictive voter ID laws and cut voting hours at stations in mostly black communities, Trump, who has claimed to be a champion for “inner-city blacks,” has said nothing. This is the first presidential election in 50 years that has taken place without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. Since 2013, when the Supreme Court gutted the VRA, more than a dozen states, mostly in the South, began to require residents to present specific forms of ID and resulted in the changing or closing of polling stations.
Given that these changes have benefited Republicans, it is unlikely that Trump or his next attorney general will lead any efforts to rectify the High Court’s 5-4 ruling—or that a court stacked with Trump appointees would do it anyway.
It is far too soon to declare if voting restrictions impacted the outcome of the election, but it is a stretch to assume that a Trump administration will work to advance the voting rights of black people, who gave nearly 90% of their support to Hillary Clinton.
Black people have more to fear from a Trump presidency than an un-restored VRA; we have to contend with a nationally-known bigot who supports racist policing.
Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who championed stop-and-frisk and said that Black Lives Matter is “inherently racist,” has been touted as a leading candidate for Attorney General. Trump, too, has crowed for a return to stop-and-frisk. And his tough, law-and-order approach—the private prison industry is excited—rests on always backing the police even as their practices are found to reflect bias against people of color.
In a country where black people are disproportionately shot and killed by cops, law enforcement agencies will feel even more emboldened by the Trump administration and Giuliani’s Department of Justice.
And forget about any expansion of the Affordable Care Act. In 2013, 6.9 percent of black children were without healthcare; in 2014, that number dropped to 4.9 percent. However, more than 50% of black Americans live in the 23 states that have refused to accept the legislation. And Trump has vowed to repeal it altogether. If that happens, many black people will be without healthcare. Again.
Also keep in mind that the Trump was sued—twice—for housing discrimination because he wouldn’t rent to black people; he settled out of court in one case and came to an agreement with the Justice Department in the other. Do we really think he will address racism behind housing that is taking place in America? America has a decades long history of using housing as a weapon of discrimination against black people and Trump was one of its purveyors.
During his victory speech, Trump promised to be a president for all Americans, but the people to whom he extended his empathy were white males who feel their whiteness is being devalued—even though research shows white men with high school diplomas have as good a chance of getting a job as a black man with a college degree.
Do we really think Trump, or the people he will appoint to key cabinet posts, will actually care about the black people his supporters have shown a clear disdain for? Or that a Trump-stacked Supreme Court will try to stop him? Or that a unified Republican Congress will keep him in check, when the GOP has been trying, since before Trump came on the scene, to disenfranchise people of color?
Don’t count on it.