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'Black community hit hard during Trump's first year'

CLAIMS: President Trump with one of his prominent supporters, Dr Ben Carson

THE year leading up to his inauguration in 2017, as the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump espoused senseless, baseless and ultimately empty assertions about the state of Black Americans and our communities.

“What the hell do you have to lose?” he screamed in front of a predominantly white crowd in a small, predominantly white suburb of Lansing, Michigan. After Trump was inaugurated, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) found it prudent to answer his question.

In March, the CBC Executive Committee, led by our Chairman Cedric L. Richmond (DLa.), presented Trump with a 130-page policy document entitled, We Have A Lot To Lose: Solutions to Advance Black Families in the 21st Century. The document, which was compiled by the entire 49-member Caucus, outlined policy solutions down to the bill text for issues facing our communities. Voting rights, criminal justice reform, economic justice, education, health care, immigration – these were just some of the topics we presented to continue our progress.

Unfortunately, these are the issues that Trump and his administration have ignored. Almost immediately after being elected, Trump established the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and appointed a known vote suppressor to lead it. The commission was designed to intimidate voters and Trump — because of political and legal pressure — recently decided to dissolve it into the Department of Homeland Security.

Throughout the past year, Trump has stacked the federal courts with judges with nothing short of scandalous records when it comes to voting rights. On the criminal justice front, Trump has used the Department of Justice to embrace mass incarceration and shy away from transparent policing. One example of this is an FBI report published in August called, Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers. One problem with the report is that the term ‘Black Identity Extremists’ is an invented group that does not exist. There are no black people organised to kill law enforcement officers.

When I asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray about the origins of this report, none of them could tell me what it was even based on or how the term was created. Economically, Trump’s favoring of big banks will ultimately leave consumers in the same spot they were during the recession, or worse.


The education of our children is also under attack. In 2014, for the first time ever, the majority of public school students in the United States were non-White. Secretary Betsy DeVos has been less than helpful to these institutions, ignoring grave disparities in how students of colour are disciplined compared to white students, and supporting a budget that would further attack services that public schools provide.

Trump has also gone after our healthcare, continually issuing statements citing death spirals in addition to cutting funding for advertisements and allowing health insurance companies to sell short-term plans with inadequate coverage.

In addition to attacking black immigrants and their countries with both his racist words and policies, Trump has attacked recipients of the Diversity Visa Program, rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and scheduled the elimination of Temporary Protective Status for many countries like Haiti and El Salvador.

The entire reason we have this program is to help protect immigrants from ills in their home country, which can range from famine to civil war. To deport hundreds of thousands after opening our borders to them is unconscionable.

What Trump’s first year showed is that hard-earned progress will never be safe so long as his bigotry, hatred and racism hold power. But what we showed the world this year in Alabama and Virginia, is that even in the face of opposition, our activism will continue and will prevail.

This year, Trump has answered his own question about what Black Americans have to lose. But it’s an answer we don’t plan to accept.

US Congresswoman Karen Bass is the 2nd Vice Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and she co-chairs the CBC’s Africa Taskforce. Follow her on Twitter at @RepKarenBass.

This article has been reproduced courtesy of Black Press USA

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