Maya Angelou once infamously said, “When someone shows you who they are believe them.”
President Trump is a prime example of a man who is who and what we think he is. He plays to a base of people who feel that America is too diverse and has placated to minorities for too long. It is time to build a wall. Time to end this concept that healthcare is a right – no it’s a product according to some conservatives. It is also time to end many of the programs that directly affect the black community.
Last week, Mr. “Make America Great Again” announced that he would be cutting a 25-year-old program that helps finance construction projects for historically black colleges and universities. Trump of all people, had the nerve to argue that the initiative could be unconstitutional because it’s racially biased.
But he thinks that his Muslim ban is constitutional? Really Mr. President?
It should come as no surprise to most. While Trump is playing politics and placating to a delusional base, in the real world programs like the Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program is critical to HBCUs. Without new facilities and technology upgrades it will continue to get harder for black colleges to compete for students.
I guess Mr. Trump forgot to tell the 60 HBCU presidents that he invited to the White House in February of this year. Talk about a set up – while the college president wanted to talk policy and funding, Trump cut the meeting short and focused in what he really wanted from his guests – a photo op.
And we thought that Steve Harvey got played. Again, the man is exactly who we think he is. There is no magically enlightened Trump waiting in the wings. There will be no evolution or maturity in office. He will continue to turn America upside down and blame others for his failings.
But because Mr. Trump doesn’t seem to be student of history, perhaps someone should inform him of the importance of HBCUs in educating African Americans. Perhaps someone should explain to the President the role that education has played in helping the black community grow and rebound from a tragic history in America.
It’s what W.E. B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington focused on in the late 1800s and early 1900s. How to best educate former slaves so that they can be self-sufficient and provide for their families. Of course Washington wanted blacks to focus more on trades while Dubois favored a more formal education in the classroom.
Regardless of their methods of trying to help black folk, education was at the center of the debate.
So in many ways, by Trump signaling out the HBCU financing as one example of programs that “allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender.” It is a direct attack on African American education.
Congressional Democrats and black caucus members are saying that the President’s actions are “stunningly careless and divisive.”
Black colleges and religious institutions have been a strong foundation in the African American community. Because as James Baldwin once said, “A child cannot be taught by someone who despises him.”
In fact, schools like Edward Waters College (EWC) in Jacksonville, FL were formed by churches specifically for the education of blacks after slavery.
Being born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Mr. Trump clearly has no idea what it means to face educational disparities and discrimination based on your skin color and background. HBCUs have played a critical role in this country since they were established in the face of Jim Crow laws, segregation and the systematic degradation of schools in minority communities.
Trump has no idea of what real diversity is and has no interest of understanding minority perspectives and challenges. James Comer once said, “Being black in America is often like playing your home games on your opponent’s court.”
You can still win the game when you play on your opponent’s court, but you have to work much harder to do so.
Time will certainly tell how HBCUs fair under Trump. “There are years that ask questions and years that answer,” said Zora Neale Hurston. Unfortunately, we know who we are dealing with in the White House. Those who oppose division and close-mindedness need to be registering more voters and strategically planning how to defeat Mr. Trump in 2020.
Signing off from Edward Waters College,