On the first of the month, Donald Trump held a breakfast and “get-together” to celebrate Black History Month in the White House. The video below is from that meeting. My comments on the video will make the most sense if you watch the video first.
While I recognize that this was just the first day of Black History Month and there is (hopefully) more celebrating and conversations to come, I am saddened with the way that Trump started off. Not only was he reading from a script with the most basic information about Black History, but within the first 60 seconds of the meeting he begins talking about false racist accusations against him and tries to clear his name. It actually happens many times throughout the meeting that the subject is changed to something that has to do with him and while I am not sure of the exact intentions of this meeting, I do not think that we need to be taking that much time to talk about Mr. Trump (or rather him taking that much time to talk about himself). It comes off as if he is doing this all for the press or for his image. It does not feel genuine in my opinion.
Another thing that Trump fails to do in the introduction is say the words “race” or “racism” or “systemic racism” (but I wasn’t expecting that last one), which I feel is extremely problematic as the quote that I have been using from Joe Feagin’s Racist America basically states that, “Structures of domination shape everyday existence, but an insightful understanding of these structures and their recurring contradictions can assist people in forcefully resisting racial oppression.” He instead says that he wants to better schools, create more jobs and better wages, and safer communities. All great things, but why is this problem a problem in the first place? Name the problem, Mr. President!
While Feagin’s remarks and my statement may feel unrelated to Trump’s meeting or Black History Month in general, I firmly believe they are related. If we cannot address or even name the major problems we are having, how can we begin to fix them? While potentially unintentional, it seemed as if he is trying to cover up or talk around the greater issue of systemic racism in our country. We cannot “resist racial oppression” if we cannot name that it is there and as we move on in his presidency, I would like to dig deeper into why he is doing this and where his motivations lie.