Donald Trump has a long track record of rubbing people the wrong way with his words. He recently made a pitch to win over black voters, “What do you have to lose? You’re living in poverty…” Many people found that statement to be offensive and some felt it was condescending to black people, but was there some truth to Trump’s pitch?
Forbes published an article about the wealth gap between white households and black and Latino households. The average black household only has 6% of the wealth of the average white household and the average Latino household has only 8%, according to a recent study called The Racial Wealth Gap: Why Policy Matters by Demos.
According to U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation, the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings in 2011, compared to $7,113 for the median black household and $8,348 for the median Latino household. These numbers illustrate the sobering reality of the economic divide between racial and ethnic groups of people.
400 years of slavery, segregation, and institutionalized discrimination in the labor and housing markets have built the wealth gap we see today. According to a new study of the racial wealth- gap conducted byInstitute for Policy Studies (IPS) and the Corporation For Economic Development (CFED), the average black household will need 228 years to accumulate the wealth their white counterparts hold today if current trends continue and we don’t see major policy interventions,
“The racial wealth divide is how the past shows up in the present,” Chuck Collins tells The Nation. “We have a deep legacy of wealth inequality that undermines the whole idea that we have a meritocracy—that there’s an equal playing field.”
But was Donald Trump wrong to point out this blaring wealth disparity between blacks and whites? I don’t think so. Though I do believe blacks, latinos, and other racial and ethnic groups have a lot to lose if Trump becomes president. Trump has long history of being a provoker on matters of race and ethnicity.
In 1973, the United States Department of Justice took a discrimination case to court against the Trump family who owned apartment complexes in Brooklyn and Queens. The complaint was based on an investigation that found four Trump employees confirming that apartment applicants were screened by race. They were specifically told not to rent to African-Americans. Three doormen said they had been instructed to deflect blacks who came to the complexes to apply for apartments.
Rather than complying with the laws to prevent racial discrimination in the housing market, Trump hired top attorneys and filed a $410 million lawsuit against the federal government complaining of “reverse discrimination” and alleged a “nationwide drive” to force landlords to “rent to welfare recipients.” Trump’s countersuit was ultimately dismissed by a judge who called it “a waste of paper.” Although Trump eventually complied with federal regulators on his rental policies, his position on race had been made clear—he sided with the whites who were against civil rights laws intended to abolish racism and promote equality.
Trump’s apparent racial resentment was further substantiated after the arrests of black and latino teens for the “Central Park Jogger Attack.” Trump paid for $85,000 worth of full-page newspaper ads proclaiming, “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” In the text Trump objected to then-Mayor Ed Koch’s plea for peace: “Mayor Koch stated that hate and rancor should be removed from our hearts. I do not think so.”
As Trump and other New Yorkers stubbornly maintained their rancorous, hate-filled attitudes, “The Central Park Five” were subjected to intense interrogation, most without the presence of their parents or attorneys, and gave false confessions. After years in prison, they were exonerated by DNA evidence. A book and a documentary film on the case showed how fear and race played substantial roles in the wrongful convictions but Trump, who fanned the flames, remained steadfast in his views. When the men received compensation for their imprisonment, Trump denounced the payments and smeared the men by saying, “These young men do not exactly have the past of angels.”
In recent months, Trump’s presidential campaign has been riddled with overt racial and discriminatory comments about multiple ethnic and racial groups of people. He has called Mexicans “rapists” and proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the United States. According to Trump, the American-born judge presiding over Trump University class-action lawsuits is a “Mexican” and therefore inherently biased against him and incompetent because he proposed building a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border.
Last Friday, Trump ruffled feathers when, at a rally, he spotted a black man in the audience and assuming he was a supporter of his said, “Look at my African-American over here” The man, Gregory Cheadle, actually wasn’t a supporter and had been to a Bernie Sanders rally the night before. “I’d describe myself as someone who is searching for answers” Mr. Cheadle said.
I could spend hours typing more examples of Trump’s seemingly racist views but I don’t feel I need to. Those who cannot see for themselves have racial blinders on that the KKK and Trump performing a lynching right before their eyes probably wouldn’t lift.
I am American Indian, Hispanic, and a mix of several other ethnicities, and my children are mixed with black. Most of my friends since I was a teenager have been black. I’ve had a whole lot of opportunity to see and experience the biased treatment every group of people who is not white seems to experience in this country.
If Trump becomes president, I fear the hatred and fear of non-whites will worsen, and yes, we will be worse off and we all have a lot to lose.