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Trump’s ‘What Have You Got to Lose’ Offers Little Incentive

[Opinion] The GOP candidate's question isn't an attractive proposition for Black voters

by Anthony Asadullah Samad, October 10, 2016

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Donald Trump

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Updated on 10/10: Presidential wannabe Donald Trump has not come up with a solid plan to approach African American constituents, as evident in Sunday’s debate.  Unfamiliar with the tenets of this “approach”? Read here for details of his Black-folk-how-much-worse-can-it-get manifesto. 

Watching Donald Trump try to save his floundering campaign with a half-hearted pander to African-Americans and Latinos is like watching a child being forced to apologize to a school mate for calling them bad names on the schoolyard.

His ridiculous assertion that he can fix all the social ills of Black communities nationwide is not only unbelievable but recalcitrant in its sincerity. The structural poverty we have witnessed in America for the past 60 years is a vestige of the very racism that Drumpf himself has been privileged to and a systemic subjugation he, himself, has been a part of. Then to suggest that “Blacks” have nothing to lose by voting for him, is insulting, condescending and devoid of any real compassion for what African Americans face in dealing with structural and systemic racism. The fact that it took him this long to even address the cultural realities of a national political campaign shows that his appeal is veiled insincerity.

First of all, when someone refers to ethnic minorities as “the Blacks” or “the Hispanics,” it affirms a mindset that is exclusionary from the outset, and that the “out groups” must be addressed “in addition to” any appeals to the dominant cultural normative. Drumpf’s ownership of an African-American support, the infamous “Look at my African-American” is emblematic of the need to highlight exclusion as inclusion. It would raise eyebrows for any candidate to suggest “the Whites” should give equality a chance and that they would have “nothing to lose” by practicing equity based inclusion in our society.

It wouldn’t be well received…at all.

Nobody likes being called out, be it for inclusion or exclusion. In the same way nobody likes being called “a racist,” nobody likes being told they are devoid of options. If neither political party has been responsive to inclusion, and Drumpf’s party has been the status quo party since the Nixon era, what is the plausible argument for suggesting that a man whose labor force, apartment residents and inner circles has never reflected cultural diversity would suddenly turn a new leaf and address centuries-long poverty in a government context? Republicans “smaller government,” free market promotion could not address poverty without support of the private sector. Mr. Drumpf is of that sector and has never sought to “fix” the very neighborhoods that are around his country clubs and casinos.

So, to address Mr. Drumpf’s claim that Blacks have nothing to lose, isn’t quite true. The vote is really the only thing subjugated people have to call attention to their plight and equalize the socioeconomic landscape. Drumpf’s coded messages to the fringe elements of the electorate do not signal inclusion to ethnic minorities. And, to use their socio-economic circumstances and dated stereotypes as reasons to support the same ideological mindset that created much of the situation, is similar to saying to the ugly kid, “You’re ugly, you’re fat, nobody wants you…what do you have to lose by being my friend.”

Not quite an incentive to befriend someone.

The same with Donald Drumpf…Blacks have no incentive to support someone that generalizes a whole race of people and espouses their most negative attributes as a reason to come on board. Drumpf somehow thinks he can assault blacks and at the same time, get their vote.

What do blacks have to lose? Their self-esteem…Their sense of value…Their self-respect… We could go on…but you get the point. If “what do we have to lose” is Drumpf’s rationale for appealing to blacks, he doesn’t understand racism in America. Maybe because he has been part of the problem…he most certainly isn’t the solution.


Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is the author of A Thousand Times NO To The Status Quo: The Radical Writings Of Anthony Asadullah Samad, Selected Counter Cultural Commentaries (1991-2014) due for release in October. Follow him on Twitter at @DrAnthonySamad.

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