Black Community, Black Church Are Stronger Than Divisive President

ANDREW HARNIK / AP PHOTOGRAPHER

by Solomon Jones

At a meeting with black pastors last week, President Trump attempted to sow seeds of division among African Americans. What he doesn’t realize is that my community is stronger than he thinks it is.

We were strong enough to survive slavery and Jim Crow, strong enough to survive redlining and mass incarceration, strong enough to survive urban renewal and gentrification, strong enough to survive being targeted during the War on Drugs. We are certainly strong enough to survive a president whose greatest skill is creating and exploiting division.

Only 8 percent of black voters cast their ballots for Trump in 2016, according to exit polls, and a recent CNN poll revealed that 79 percent of African Americans view Trump as a racist.

So when Cleveland Pastor Darrell Scott, one of several black preachers who met with Trump to discuss prison reform, said Trump was going to be “the most pro-black president that we’ve had in our lifetime,” the black community responded with disgust. Other black preachers weighed in, and just like that, the black church, the institution that has enabled African Americans to survive racism in all its forms, lay divided. That division, in my view, was the goal.

That is the genius of Trump. He is able to identify a sore spot and then plunge the knife of division into that very area, twisting it until a tiny rift expands into a chasm.

Trump knows that he has little support in the African American community. He knows that his many outrageous statements, including calling African countries “s–tholes,” and declaring that Haitians all have AIDS, have exacerbated the view in the black community that he is a racist. He knows that if blacks vote in greater numbers in the midterms and the 2020 presidential election, both Trump and the GOP are in trouble. Perhaps most important, he knows that the African American church remains the center of black political thought.

It was the black church, after all, that led the 1960s movement for civil rights — a movement centered not only on economic justice but also on voting. However, it’s been 50 years since that movement, and there are now rifts in the black church that can be exploited. By giving a platform to black pastors who support him in the face of black opposition, Trump exposed those rifts.

The sight of black pastors kowtowing before Trump was met with outrage in the black community. Not just because their actions were an insult to black people who live in Trump’s America, but also because their actions disrespected those who came before us.

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SOURCE: The Inquirer

Solomon Jones is the author of 10 books. Listen to him weekdays 10 a.m. to noon on Praise 107.9 FM.