Countering 'You Ain't Black' with the Facts
When comedienne Chelsea Handler noticed a pro-Trump tweet posted by her ex-flame 50 Cent, she became apoplectic and launched a bizarre social media crusade to change his mind. Dripping condescension, she asked if he knew what his race was and insulted his intelligence, saying if he's black he can't vote Trump. In an Instagram post, she addressed him "Hey f-----!," offering to pay his taxes if he changed his mind on Trump. And in an interview with Jimmy Fallon, she even dissolutely proffered renewed intimacy to 50 Cent: "I might be willing to go for another spin, if you know what I'm talking about."
Her inability to accept that a black might support Trump is of a piece with presidential candidate Joe Biden's comment to radio host Charlamagne tha God: "If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black." Like many liberals in the public sphere, Handler insists that American blacks should assert race über alles, and their candidate choice should be monolithic and unidimensional — Democratic, that is — based solely on loyalty to the color of their skin.
The false equation "black = Democratic" has long been taken for granted by the Democrats, who conflate blacks' allegiance to their party with being true to their race. American blacks who dare to break free of this shackling assumption end up facing the ostracism of "cancel culture." It's an experience well known to black conservatives like Larry Elder, Candace Owens, Shelby Steele, and others.
But the fallacious presumption that the Democratic Party offers the best deal for blacks has begun to unravel in the four years of the Trump administration. Myriad policies and programs initiated by him have benefited blacks immensely. It makes sense for them to examine the many ways in which they have prospered under the Republican president and question the expectation of unwavering allegiance to the Democratic party.
According to a 2018 economic report from the U.S. Census Bureau, black poverty rates dropped to 20.8% from 24.1 % in 2015. Trump's "hire American" and other economic policies, which foster growth in place of direct tax-and-spend transfer payments, have done much to spur job creation and wage increases and combat inequality. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the black jobless rate had fallen to an unprecedented 5.5%.
In July, in the throes of an economic shutdown, Trump made sure that black workers matter with an executive order to suspend most guest worker programs and curtail the rewarding of green cards for those not in the country. These policies help minorities, who disproportionately compete with foreign labor. In other efforts to improve the economic conditions of minority communities, Trump designed the Opportunity Zone (O.Z.) program and the Platinum Plan.
The O.Z. program has spurred economic revitalization in distressed communities by providing tax benefits to incentivize private investment in community improvements such as the creation of much needed housing and essential infrastructure. Investors work in concert with local leadership and government officials to achieve a positive economic impact for residents. It's a win-win scenario for both parties. The revitalization potentiates job growth; increases demand for housing, restaurants, and entertainment opportunities; and improves access to transportation.
The Platinum Plan calls for increased investment in black businesses and greater availability of capital for black entrepreneurs. The stated goal is to create 500,000 black-owned businesses, provide $500 billion in capital investment, add three million jobs, and increase homeownership. The plan is now in the proposal stage, but it's certainly indicative of the president's continued commitment to the black community. In stark contrast to the unending cycle of dependency fostered by government programs historically offered by Democrats, Trump's plan offers the possibility of wealth creation, independence, and prosperity.
In educational reforms, President Trump has championed school choice, which, according to the National School Choice survey (2016) by the American Federation for Children, is supported by 76% of black Americans. Providing alternatives to public education through school choice is an effective way of breaking the cycle of poverty and ensuring a more successful future. So black parents definitely want to exercise more power over the education available to their children. Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes found that black charter school enrollees achieved significantly greater success in math and reading. Similarly, the Black Alliance for Educational Options has found measurable learning gains for black students in public charter schools over traditional public schools. Other studies, too, have noted such gains.
A hundred days into his administration, President Trump solidified his commitment to educational opportunities for black Americans by signing a bill providing $250 million per year to the country's historically black institutions of higher education. And with the White House Initiative to Promote Excellence and Innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), the president affirmed that HBCUs are a "priority" for his administration, something that disappointed black leadership had expected over eight years of the Obama administration. As part of the initiative, he signed an executive order establishing an executive director in the office of the president: instead of the Department of Education, the White House will directly oversee these efforts. The vision is for enhanced planning and development, private sector collaboration, and infrastructure upgrades.
The Trump administration's First Step Act has been hailed as the most significant criminal justice reform legislation, designed to change federal sentencing laws "that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African-American community." It gives nonviolent offenders "the chance to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens" and allows for early release from prison, sentence reduction, and better opportunities for rehabilitation. Ninety-one percent of inmates freed by the legislation were black Americans, and sentences were reduced by an average of 73 months. States have been spurred to follow suit with similar legal reforms.
When massive violence, looting, and destruction were perpetrated in cities across the country by Black Lives Matter (BLM), Trump asserted that the extremist, anti–law and order, Marxist organization is harmful for blacks. BLM wants the nuclear family destroyed, police and prisons abolished, border security eliminated, and school choice to end. Should these happen, they would no doubt work against the black community. Trump made no bones about saying BLM was insincere in claiming to care for black lives.
BLM does not seem to care about the over 7,000 blacks murdered annually by other blacks and the dire consequences of absent fathers in the black community. While BLM demands abolition of law enforcement on hyped charges of racism, a recent Gallup poll indicated that 81% of blacks want police to stay in their neighborhoods. Of BLM's anti-police stance, Trump said, "This pushing to defund the police is hurting black communities the most."
Three recent polls (The Democracy Institute, Emerson, and Zogby) show a surge in black voter support for Trump with 19–20% stating they would vote for the president, compared to just 8% in 2016. Blexit, an organization founded by conservative commentator and political activist Candace Owens, has recently emerged as a grassroots political force for black Americans who have exited the Democratic Party and are tired of the victim mentality and dependency it fosters.
With all that Trump has accomplished for black America in four years — compared to eight years of the Obama administration — the charge of "you ain't black" if you vote for Trump rings hollow.