For a racist president, Donald Trump sure did invite a lot of Black folks to be his special guests at the State of the Union address Tuesday night. But a look beyond the surface should serve as a precautionary tale for anyone who thought his words of purported equality and winning might mean that he was softening his racism. Potential swing voters who are Black and especially suburban white women, this means you.
In fact, it was quite the opposite even as Teleprompter Trump touted record low unemployment for Black people and happily took credit for funding historically Black colleges; he spoke about his successful efforts in criminal justice reform; and he gave a shout out to his favorite — and only — Black Republican Sen. Tim Scott before he went on to introduce what at one point seemed like a never-ending list of Black guests in the gallery.
And the folks he introduced had amazingly touching success stories, too.
There was Tony Rankins, the war in Afghanistan veteran who returned home only to become a drug addict before turning his life around in Cincinnati. Then there was Iain Lanphier along with his great-grandfather Charles McGee, a 100-year-old former member of the Tuskegee Airmen. Trump said Lanphier was inspired by McGee and now wants to join the newly formed Space Force. There was also Janiyah Davis and her mom, Stephanie, who Trump said he invited to bring attention to school choice legislation. Trump announced to them during his speech that he had secured an “opportunity scholarship” for Janiyah, a 4th grader, so she can attend “the school of your choice.” Finally, there’s Paul Morrow, the Army veteran who after leaving the military became a successful businessman.
For those keeping score at home, that’s six people — which is probably six more than anyone honestly expected.
However, of course, it can’t be forgotten that this is an election year and that Trump is in prime campaign form. His signature petty and sexist ruthlessness we’ve all come to know and expect from the president was still on display from the very start Tuesday night, like when he left House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi hanging after she tried to shake his hand and he didn’t extend his in return. But that was just the tip of Trump’s hateful iceberg.
The race for the Black vote is officially underway and Trump wants to continue the unlikely momentum he’s been experiencing as of late with that coveted demographic that every successful candidate can’t win without at least a portion of the support. To those who have not been paying attention, highlighting the stories of the Black folks who he invited to the State of the Union could possibly persuade them to vote in favor of Trump as Democrats struggle to find an electable candidate to challenge him.
But then Black folks surely had a sobering come to Jesus moment when they saw Trump order his wife to present proud Obama birther and open racist Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the audience.
Trump also went hard at immigrants and doubled down on his commitment to criminalize them.
That is the true Trump and should tell folks all they need to know about this president — again, if they haven’t already been paying attention to his open embrace and encouragement of anti-Black and brown sentiment.