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“I Can Relate It Really Very Much To Myself”: Asked About Race, Donald Trump Gives The Wrong Answer

Given recent violence in Texas, Minnesota, and Louisiana, race is very much on the minds of many Americans, including Donald Trump. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee sat down with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly last night, where Trump was able to explain why he believes he can relate to African Americans.

O’REILLY: There [are] still some black Americans who believe that the system is biased against them. The American system because they’re black, they don’t get the same kind of shot, they don’t get the same kind of fairness that whites do. What do you say to them?

TRUMP: Well, I have been saying even against me the system is rigged when I ran as a, you know, for president, I mean, I could see what was going on with the system and the system is rigged.

When the host told the candidate this sentiment probably won’t lift anyone’s spirits, Trump responded, “No, what I’m saying is they are not necessarily wrong. I mean, there are certain people where unfortunately that comes into play. I’m not saying that. And I can relate it really very much to myself.”

Asked if he believes he can understand the African-American experience, Trump added, “You can’t truly understand what’s going on unless you are African-American. I would like to say yes, however.”

You’ve got to be kidding me.

First, let’s quickly note that the GOP’s presidential nominating process was not, in reality, “rigged” against the candidate who prevailed. Trump didn’t understand how states chose delegates to the national convention, but that doesn’t mean the system itself was manipulated unfairly.

Second, for Trump to believe his experiences winning the Republican nomination helps him “relate” to African Americans is so painfully bizarre, it would do real and lasting harm to a normal presidential candidate.

But even if we put this aside, one of the most striking things about Trump’s perceptions of current events is his narcissistic myopia. For Trump, the importance of the mass-shooting in Orlando is something he once said on Twitter. For Trump, the importance of Brexit is how it might affect his golf course. For Trump, the importance of African-American alienation is how similar it is to his treatment during the GOP primaries.

Ask Trump about almost any issue, and he’s likely to respond with a sentiment that boils down to, “That reminds me of me.”

To put it mildly, it’s an alarming personality trait.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 13, 2016

July 13, 2016 Posted by | African Americans, Donald Trump, Racism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Trump Backer Says He’s Running ‘As A Racial Healer'”: Is Trump Prepared To Acknowledge His Role In The Problem?

Donald Trump has been called all sorts of things over the course of his controversial presidential campaign, but yesterday was probably the first time anyone, anywhere, said he’s positioned to play the role of “racial healer.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper interviewed Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), a vice presidential contender, and the host noted that he’s heard from “a number of Latino-Americans, Muslim-Americans, Native-Americans, Jewish-Americans, African-Americans, all expressing concerns about some of the things Donald Trump has said.” The Republican governor insisted most Americans have the same security concerns, regardless of who wins the election.

It led to this amazing exchange.

TAPPER: Respectfully, governor, you didn’t answer my question. Do you think Donald Trump has campaigned as a racial healer?

FALLIN: I think he is trying to campaign as a racial healer. I think that has been part of his message….

In case you’re curious, the governor said this with a straight face.

This comes on the heels of the Trump campaign issuing a statement on Friday morning, responding to the mass-shooting in Dallas, which read in part, “Our nation has become too divided. Too many Americans feel like they’ve lost hope. Crime is harming too many citizens. Racial tensions have gotten worse, not better.”

Questions about racial tensions are inherently difficult and multi-faceted, and Trump has done little to help answer them. But if the presumptive Republican nominee is correct, and tensions have intensified, is Trump prepared to acknowledge his role in the problem?

Slate’s Catherine Piner put together a lengthy collection of incidents involving Trump’s racially divisive campaign tactics, adding, “His observation about racial tensions is especially curious given the many racially and ethnically divisive statements he has made.”

I’m also reminded of this column in June from the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank.

The things Trump is doing now – disparaging the “Mexican” judge, disqualifying Muslim judges, calling somebody claiming Native American blood “Pocahontas” and singling out “my African American” – is very much in line with what he has been doing for the past year, and before.

More than six months ago, I began a column by proposing, “Let’s not mince words: Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist.” His bigotry went back decades, to the Central Park jogger case, and came to include: his leadership of the “birther” movement suggesting President Obama was a foreign-born Muslim, his vulgar expressions for women, his talk of Mexico sending rapists into America, his call for mass deportation, his spats with Latino news outlets, his mocking Asian accent, his tacit acceptance of the claim that Muslims are a “problem” in America, his agreement that American Muslims should be forced to register themselves, his call to ban Muslim immigration, his false claim about American Muslims celebrating 9/11, his tweeting of statistics from white supremacists, his condoning of violence against black demonstrators and his mocking of a journalist with a physical disability.

This assessment – a sampling, really, of Trump’s record on matters of diversity and respect – was published a month ago, and things have gotten even worse since.

All of which brings us back to the truly breathtaking assertion that Trump is “trying to campaign as a racial healer.” The next question for the GOP candidate’s allies is, if the last year is what it looks like when Trump is trying to bring people together, what would it look like if he were trying to tear us apart?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 11, 2016

July 11, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Mary Fallin, Racism | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“For His Next Trick, Trump Questions Clinton’s Religious Faith”: The Last Person Who Should Question Others’ Faith

Recently, most of Donald Trump’s offensive rants have focused on race and ethnicity, but not religion. Any chance he can pick up the slack and start making faith-based insults, too?

As it turns out, yes, he can.

Donald Trump questioned Hillary Clinton’s commitment to her Christian faith on Tuesday, saying that little is known about her spiritual life even though she’s been in the public eye for decades.

Speaking to a group of top social conservative evangelical Christian leaders at a gathering in New York City, Trump said, “we don’t know anything about Hillary in terms of religion.”

“Now, she’s been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there’s no – there’s nothing out there,” Trump said. “There’s like nothing out there. It’s going to be an extension of Obama but it’s going to be worse, because with Obama you had your guard up. With Hillary you don’t, and it’s going to be worse.”

As The Hill’s report noted, the behind-closed-doors meeting was not open to the public or to journalists, but one faith leader recorded Trump’s comments and posted them online.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee added that the religious leaders in attendance should “pray for everyone, but what you really have to do is pray to get everybody out to vote for one specific person.”

Let’s unpack this a bit, because even by Trump standards, this is pretty amazing.

First, to suggest Americans “don’t know anything about” Hillary Clinton “in terms of religion” is absurd. The Democratic candidate has spoken about her Methodist faith many times, including lengthy comments about her views on Christianity and the Bible at an Iowa event earlier this year.

Second, I’d love to hear more about why, exactly, Trump and his like-minded friends had their “guard up” about President Obama’s faith. What is it, specifically, that led Trump and his allies to put their “guard up” about his religion?

Third, when Trump urged faith leaders to “pray to get everybody out to vote for one specific person,” he was approaching a potentially dangerous legal line. Under federal tax law, houses of worship and those responsible for tax-exempt ministries cannot legally intervene in political elections. Taking steps to have parishioners “vote for one specific person” is problematic.

And finally, of any political figure in America, Donald J. Trump is perhaps the last person who should be questioning others’ faith.

The GOP candidate’s clumsiness on matters of faith has been a point of concern for some conservative voters before, and last summer, the New York Republican refused to say which parts of Scripture are important to him, saying it was “private.” (Asked whether he’s drawn more to the New or Old Testaments, Trump said, “Both.”)

And now Mr. Two Corinthians wants to complain that “we don’t know anything about Hillary in terms of religion”? Seriously? I don’t expect much from Trump, but for him, there is no upside to picking this particular fight.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 21, 2016

June 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Faith, Hillary Clinton, Religion | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“No Surprise, Trump Again Loud And Wrong”: Trump Is Woefully Ignorant About Minority Youths In America

“Ignoramus,” according to Merriam-Webster, was the name of a fictional 17th-century lawyer who regarded himself as rather shrewd when, in fact, he was quite foolish and ignorant. Enter Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee who denounced U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel as too biased to oversee lawsuits involving Trump University because the judge was, as Trump referred to him, “a Mexican.”

Senior Judge Theodore R. Newman Jr. of the D.C. Court of Appeals, former chairman of the U.S. Fine Arts Commission Harry G. Robinson III, D.C. venture capitalist James L. Hudson, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, NBC4 news anchor Jim Vance, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President Wade Henderson, D.C. elder statesman Carl Anderson, former D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty, D.C. Council member Brandon Todd, BET founder Robert Johnson and more than 150,000 members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, including this lifetime member and columnist, have another name for Curiel: We call him “Brother.”

Trump, no surprise, again was loud and wrong.

Curiel was born in Indiana, where he was initiated into predominantly African American Kappa Alpha Psi at Indiana University.

Labeling — or mislabeling — is pure Trump. Why bother to get to know anything about a person when pigeonholing into an ethnic, racial, religious or sexual identity will do?

But it is not Curiel’s name, his parents’ Mexican heritage or his fraternal choice that stand out. What lifts him up, as a fraternity leader said in a tribute to him against Trump’s bigotry, is Curiel’s decision to become part of a diverse membership of high achievers from all backgrounds who firmly oppose the practice of judging someone on the basis of race or ethnic origin.

Trump, in his ignorance, would never understand. His is a world of oversimplified compartmentalization: “the Latinos,” “the Muslims,” “the gays.”

And he knows it all, especially when it comes to — his words again — “the blacks.”

In the aftermath of the Baltimore rioting over Freddie Gray’s death, Trump pronounced, “And if you look at black and African American youth, to a point where they’ve never done more poorly. There’s no spirit.”

Thus saith Trump. He saith wrong. But, in truth, Trump has had help in reaching his crooked conclusions.

The local evening news brings tales of black community breakdowns, broken bodies and so much blood. Case in point: The Post’s feature story this week about a black teen in Baltimore trying to graduate from his troubled high school when so many of his classmates are dying. It’s regular newspaper fare, and the kind of stuff trumpeted by Trump.

But The Post’s account and Trump’s portrayal don’t capture the narrative of today’s African American and other youths of color.

Those stories are found where the denigrators of black and brown youths, and many in the media, fail to go.

Trump and his ilk should have been with me last month at the Sumner School Museum for the 28th Celebration of Youth essay contest sponsored by Global Harmony Through Personal Excellence, where dozens of Grade 4 through 9 scholars demonstrated wisdom beyond their years. “No spirit”? They made you want to stand up and cheer.

Too bad Trump wasn’t around last week to see the commencement celebration of Chavez Capitol Hill High School, a public charter school of mostly black and Latino youths, most economically disadvantaged — and most college-bound.

They, too, know what life is like for The Post’s young man in Baltimore. Many of them were the first in their families to graduate high school. Life for them has been hard, too.

They are youths who care about what’s going on in their communities. More important, they believe they can make a difference. Most will be off to college in the fall. Keep that “no spirit” garbage to yourself, Trump.

If last year’s high school graduation numbers are any guide, the Chavez students will be joined by more than 3,000 other D.C. high school students who received diplomas this spring. Many of them will also continue their education. They aren’t victims. They are spirited.

Kids “have never done more poorly,” declares Trump. Tell that to the more than 600 graduates of D.C. schools who have been awarded more than $1.2 million in scholarships by Curiel’s Washington Alumni brothers and their Kappa Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Trump, the know-it-all, should have attended the 176-year-old Nineteenth Street Baptist Church last Sunday to observe the congregation honor the college and high school graduates at Youth Recognition Day. Take in the sight of their adult mentors, volunteers and financial supporters.

Those scenes at the Chavez graduation, Nineteenth Street Baptist’s service, the youth essay contest, all the fundraisers, show that family and community supporters are not isolated stories. Those experiences are replicated below the radar in black and brown communities, and in churches and mosques and places of worship across the country. They are the rest of the story.

But if Trump doesn’t know from Mexican, why should he know any of this?

 

By: Colbert I. King, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, June 17, 2016

June 19, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Gonzalo Curiel, Minorities | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“There Is No Post Racial America”: Can Bernie Sanders Win The African-American Vote?

Bill Clinton, so the saying goes, was America’s first black president.

Novelist Toni Morrison dubbed him so, noting that he displayed “almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.”

The analogy stuck because people saw Clinton’s rapport of kinship and familiarity that crossed racial lines.

His wife is not blessed with the same attributes. This became starkly apparent in 2008 when she faced a formable political challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination and lost as African-American voters flocked to him.

This go-around, it’s not an upstart biracial senator from Illinois who is challenging Hillary Clinton for the coveted prize in this election cycle. It’s a 74-year-old white guy with a Mister Rogers appeal.

Bernie Sanders is the exclamation point on bad news for Clinton. In the Iowa caucuses, Sanders’ virtual tie in votes showed that Clinton can’t rest on her substantial resume.

Clinton cannot take black voters for granted. Sanders may not win enough African-American support to snag the Democratic nomination away, but he’ll give her a considerable run for it, even in Southern states like South Carolina, whose Democratic primary will take place at the end of the month.

Sanders’ appeal is that he acknowledges something that African-Americans know viscerally: There is no post-racial America. He has also offered a forthright critique of wealth and income equality in America, along with measures to rectify it. All he has to do is package his message right.

The election of Barack Obama did not substantially alter the lives of most black Americans. True, it was a collective emotional achievement for much of America, and especially for black America. Yet it’s ludicrous to believe that one man in the highest office of the land, even serving two terms, was going to undo the entrenched realities of race in America.

African-Americans, segregated and humiliated first by slavery and then by segregation, and further still by subtler forms of bias and discrimination that are still with us, are lagging behind other people of other races and ethnicities in employment and economic and educational attainment.

By the time the recovery began from the most recent recession, African-Americans had lost the most ground and now have to make harder strides to catch up.

Those without wealth invested in stocks and those whose work skills are less in demand — especially people whose families are less firmly entrenched in middle class — are struggling. And Sanders speaks well to these voters, especially to a new generation that is worried that they won’t be able to achieve, not due to personal failings but because systems of government such as taxation and justice are rigged against them.

In Iowa, Sanders swept Clinton with voters under 30, winning by a 70-point margin. He also won resoundingly with voters aged 30 to 44.

Iowa, some shrug, is overwhelmingly white. True.

But what if younger African-American voters aren’t as beholden to the idea that they must stick with the Clinton team, even if Hillary is a surrogate of Obama? Some evidence of this is appearing.

In recent weeks former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner has become a vocal advocate, along with the attorney who represented the Walter Scott family. Some rappers have begun advocating for him, plying their networks on social media. And the revered scholar Cornel West has been actively campaigning and took to Facebook with a post that begins, “Why I endorse Brother Bernie….”

It reads, in part: “I do so because he is a long-distance runner with integrity in the struggle for justice for over 50 years. Now is the time for his prophetic voice to be heard across our crisis-ridden country, even as we push him with integrity toward a more comprehensive vision of freedom for all.”

All Sanders has to do is speak ferociously for the underdogs of society, for the masses of people who have been left behind. And he is very adept at connecting these dots.

A good example is Sanders’ platform on racial justice. It seeks to address what he defines as “the five central types of violence waged against black, brown and indigenous Americans: physical, political, legal, economic and environmental.”

And he fully defines each, with grim examples of the harm they have caused. Then he offers his solutions.

Black Americans know these realities in ways that are starkly personal.

The question is: What must Sanders do to convince black voters that he can and will address them?

 

By: Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, February 4, 2016

February 7, 2016 Posted by | African Americans, Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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