On CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow, Morgan State University professor Jason Johnson discussed President Donald Trump’s visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and his outreach to the African-American community with CNN Political Commentator Kayleigh McEnany, CNN Senior Political Analyst Mark Preston, and former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin.
On April 4 the city of St. Louis will have its first mayoral election since the Ferguson protests in 2014. While the suburb of Ferguson has become synonymous across the nation with systemic municipal racism and corruption, St. Louis proper isn’t much better. Although the city has had “Democratic” mayors since the 1970s, city politics are more racial than partisan. White Democrats and the few Republicans in the city routinely work together to limit or suppress black political power, which is why a city that has been 49 percent African American for decades has only been able to elect two African-American mayors.
When it comes to the City Council, white political elites have sliced up voting districts so fine that Salt Bae with a master’s in public administration couldn’t do a better job of diluting black votes. The city’s hostility toward black political leadership reached a new high last week when Tishaura Jones, current city treasurer and candidate for mayor, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (the city’s last remaining major paper) to take several seats. From the St. Louis American, an African-American newspaper serving St. Louis:
On Monday, February 6, Tishaura O. Jones declined an editorial board interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Jones, of course, is a Democratic candidate for St. Louis mayor in the March 7 primary election and current city treasurer. She explained her reasons for not meeting with the Post editorial board in a letter to Tod Robberson, Editorial Page editor at the Post.
The best parts of the letter, published by the St. Louis American, are highlighted below. Passengers, take your seats; it’s going to be a bumpy ride:
Two weeks ago, you used some of your ink to outline what questions you would be asking of mayoral candidates. You complained that “decades of sustained, abject neglect by city leaders have allowed a bombed-out graffiti-covered, war-zone image to prevail.” You said you were afraid to walk your dog at night and you called for a plan to “address blight and abate the graffiti that’s killing our city.”
You just moved here. It isn’t your city, yet. And graffiti is not what’s killing it.
What is killing our city is poverty. Since you’re new and you live in a great neighborhood, you probably don’t know that the poverty rate doubled during Mayor Francis G. Slay’s 16-year tenure.
Credit is due to Jones for pointing out the pernicious relationship between gentrification, race and media bias.
What is killing our region is a systemic racism that pervades almost every public and private institution, including your newspaper, and makes it nearly impossible for either North St. Louis or the parts of South St. Louis where African Americans live to get better or safer or healthier or better-educated.
But she’s not done yet:
St. Louis needs to change. I am not afraid to say that. And I don’t mean the polite incremental kind that Alderwoman Lyda Krewson promises. I mean change.
I will look at every issue through a racial equity lens. I will ask if every decision we make helps those who have been disenfranchised, red-lined and flat-out ignored for way too long.
I will look through each and every program in city government and make the changes necessary to ensure that government is working for those people.
From participatory budgeting to the modernizing of services, I will take steps to make city government easier to navigate, easier to participate in and easier to understand. I’ll ask police officers and firefighters what would make their jobs easier. I’ll put social workers into the police department so that trained practitioners will be doing the jobs police officers aren’t trained to do.
We do not need to invent new programs for much of what I plan to change. There are programs all over the country we can learn from and that we can adopt. I know this because I’ve traveled to see them. I know that galls your writer who wrote that I am “high-flying” and should be grounded. I suspect she meant that I was “uppity” or had a “bad attitude,” but didn’t have the honesty (or courage) to be that overt.
I plan to work hard as your mayor, but I do not plan to waste time ignoring things that are working well elsewhere. We have too much at stake in this community to do any differently, and we have too much to do.
It’s the same way I have run the Treasurer’s Office. When I was elected, I found an office that did a lot of things inefficiently, and I looked for ideas for how to improve. Over the past four years, I modernized parking and launched a major effort to change lives practically with the Office of Financial Empowerment. You described that as “just doing my job” and wrote that the white guy you endorsed would have done the same thing. At least two of you have lived in Texas, so you will understand what I mean when I call that bullsh*t.
As mayor, I’ll take the same approach.
I think you were in Texas during Ferguson. If so, you may have missed what happened here: We woke up. Black people woke up. Allies stood up. Young people spoke up. Our best minds listened and produced a pair of remarkable documents, the Forward Through Ferguson report and the For the Sake of All report, that are blueprints for the next four years of a mayor.
I understand that the Post-Dispatch is hurting right now. I hear that soon you will have to lay off more employees. With readership down to below 100,000, it makes sense why you would resort to a more inflammatory news reporting style to boost readership.
I think this line alone cost the St. Louis Post-Dispatch a few thousand more subscriptions:
There are some talented reporters at the Post who are very good at their jobs. I’ve had the privilege of talking with many of them. They have written about me fairly, objectively, and positively. I appreciate criticism when it’s due.
But what the editorial board and certain other reporters have done is nothing short of thinly veiled racism and preference for the status quo past. Something this city has had enough of.
I think there might be enough city voters who are with me and are ready to vote for that change in March and April. After we do that, you and your dog will be safer. And maybe you will consider hiring an African-American editorial writer.
Jones told The Root that she declined to seek the endorsements of the St. Louis Police Officers Association and the daily newspapers because of their systematic racism and bias in assessing black political leadership. Whether she wins the Democratic primary on March 7 or not, one thing is clear: The city of St. Louis, its local Democratic Party and press could use a wake-up call. Jones is the city treasurer, not some fringe “The Rent Is Too Damn High” candidate. If she feels strongly enough to put finger to keyboard and press “send” on this letter, there are likely thousands of voters in the city who feel the same way.
This article originally appeared online at The Root.
I don’t believe in assigning President Trump silly nicknames. There is no combination of orange, hand, marigold or pumpkin jokes or references that either makes me chuckle or truly demonstrates who or what he is. Why? Primarily because who Donald Trump is, and what he represents, isn’t funny and runs much deeper than a few wacky monikers or memes based on him or his Baghdad Bob-level staff. Everything that is utterly dangerous, terrible and not meme-worthy about Donald Trump was on display tonight in his first major interview as president with David Muir of ABC News.
Donald Trump Does Not Care About the Truth
It’s cute to talk about #AlternativeFacts and #SpicerFacts and even sometimes #FakeNews, but the sinister and terrifying reality of the Trump presidency is his complete disdain for actual facts and information. Early in the interview, Muir asked Trump directly why the president claims that 3-5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election without any evidence. Trump then cited a 2008 Pew study—to which Muir quickly and succinctly pointed out not only that the study in question does not show any massive voter fraud but also that the author himself says that his own research did not substantiate any of Trump’s claims.
There you have it. Trump doesn’t care that he’s lying, so long as enough Americans believe whatever lie he wants to spout. To be clear, his call for an investigation into “voter fraud” is just an excuse to target Democratic states and Democratic voters for voter suppression.
Donald Trump Will Initiate Martial Law in Minority Urban Communities
Muir asked Trump what he meant by his threat to send “the feds” into Chicago to stop all the murders. Trump response was, “We have to get tougher and crack down.” He then went on to mention nonspecific ways that he would “step in” to control crime in the city if the state or local government didn’t do enough. To make it clear, Trump is advocating martial law, a “temporary” suspension of rights when the federal government declares an area in crisis. This means curfews, mass arrests of “suspected criminals,” protesters and even press, and vast unchecked powers being given to law enforcement.
Donald Trump Will Begin to Deport Minorities and Muslims
Muir asked the president whether or not “Dreamers”—young people who were brought to America as minors by their parents and who have known only America as their home—will be deported in his administration. Trump said, “I have a big heart.” And then he went on to say that only “bad people” had to worry. In this same series of questions, Trump lied about the wall with Mexico again, claiming that Mexico would pay for it, and that banning visas from several majority-Muslim nations was not his “Muslim” ban.
Donald Trump will deport the Dreamers. Donald Trump will begin to deport Muslims. Donald Trump will begin building a wall with Mexico and will start a trade war to get Mexico to pay for something that it has steadfastly refused to have any part of. Everything that Trump said in this portion of the interview was barely a backpedal or a soft shoe. He simply lied or refused to answer the question, which means that viewers are left to follow whatever he has said in the past—and that means massive deportations of people of color and Muslims.
As part of a retrospective on Fusion about the presidency of Barack Obama, Morgan State political science and communications professor Jason Johnson discussed the President Obama’s legacy on politics, race relations and the economy.
Donald Trump is going to be president of the United States, and therefore people are going to have to talk with him.
Since Donald Trump is going to be in office for the next 4 to 8 years it’s a pretty good time to get a handle on the right and the wrong way for black public figures and celebrities to interact with a president who’s viewed as a physical and existential threat by most African Americans. In the last 48 hours comedian/show host/suburban-Hotep Steve Harvey and civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis have given us a crash course.
For the record, Donald Trump’s rhetoric throughout his campaign was implicitly, and at times explicitly, racist and anti-black. His supporters hold more racist attitudes than your average American or Republican. He selected a white terrorist sympathizer as his chief adviser and he nominated a lifelong opponent of civil rights as Attorney General. If one is choosing to meet with Trump these are publicly known, undisputed facts, and you will be associated with them one way or another.
On Friday, Harvey met with the president-elect at Trump Tower to discuss ‘mentoring’ programs and black inner-city issues. That same day during an NBC interview, Congressman John Lewis said he would not be attending Trump’s inauguration because he thought PEOTUS was illegitimate. Social media has been blowing up both men ever since for vastly different reasons.
First, there is nothing inherently wrong with Steve Harvey meeting with President-elect Trump to discuss issues of urban black poverty. There were poor black people before the Obama Administration and during the administration and there will be poor black people during the Trump administration. If you want to help poor black people, as Harvey claims, then certainly one of the avenues that can be explored is sitting with the president-elect and discussing initiatives.
Debating Trump vs. Lewis is pointless. As one tweet pointed out:
John Lewis was endorsed by MLK. Donald Trump is endorsed by the KKK.
— Marcus H. Johnson (@smoothkobra) January 14, 2017
However, Lewis demonstrates a principled, practical approach to Donald Trump and the failure on the part of Steve Harvey. No matter how nice the Trump Tower meeting was, the next morning Trump did something racist and vulgar. Now, Steve Harvey, who praised Trump as a “sincere” person on Facebook that he’d sit with “anytime” at best looks like a fool and at worse might be confused with another Steve.
Unlike Steve Harvey, Congressman John Lewis voices his complaints, refuses to be a part of Trump’s public relations message and will get down to the business of doing needed work in the black community even if he sees Trump as illegitimate. Meanwhile Steve Harvey is going to Think Like an Opportunist and Act Like a Community Leader.