The world and the nation has watched in horror as Donald J. Trump has taken the United States down an increasingly isolationist path complete with healthy servings of racism and xenophobia. His disregard for the rule of law and his authoritarian ...


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So-called expediency might doom us all this election

The world and the nation has watched in horror as Donald J. Trump has taken the United States down an increasingly isolationist path complete with healthy servings of racism and xenophobia. His disregard for the rule of law and his authoritarian nature—and that lack of repercussions for either—have made it clear that our nation’s system of checks and balances are broken.

Despite his bumbling buffoon act, Trump has remade the federal judiciary with one in every four circuit court judges being a Trump nominee and two of his picks sitting on the Supreme Court. To be honest, his presidency has been almost a complete victory for the right. In less than four years, he has reshaped the country and held a mirror to our faces and what many of us are seeing is not pretty. 

In many ways, life in America has become a real-time version of the 2006 film Idiocracy

Which is why, as we enter presidential primary season 2020, the stakes are feeling higher than ever. Can the republic be saved? Or should the American empire, built on stolen land with the labor of stolen people, die a slow and painful death? 

For the majority of American voters, even those on the left, they just want to get back to normal or what passed for normal prior to 2016. Unfortunately, what used to pass for normal in this country was toxic and harmful for Black people, Indigenous people, other people of color (POC) and so many other marginalized groups. The American Dream was already a nightmare for us. Which is why many of us had the foresight to know that the odds of Trump winning were high and that we would be screwed.

However, no one listened to us then and apparently no one wants to listen to us now. 

And by “no one” I mostly mean the white people—poor, working class and middle class—who are also being harmed (particularly economically) but haven’t been pushed all the way to the margins because the GOP needs their votes. Those people still see faces like theirs in most positions of power and prosperity and thus many of them continue to feel like the system mostly works. They haven’t caught on yet that it doesn’t work for them either; it’s just that they will be the last ones to get the boots on their necks when the system is done with the rest of us.

As of this writing, after the debacle with the Iowa caucuses, and with the New Hampshire primary finishing up, it looks like Bernie Sanders is emerging as the Democratic front-runner with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg close to his heels. After existing in near anonymity with her Midwestern potato casserole, we have Amy Klobuchar rounding up the top three at the beginning of this primary cycle. We also have Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe “Corn Pop” Biden rounding up the rear. Yeah, I know we have a few other candidates but barring a miracle will we really be seeing much from Tulsi or Tom? And oh yes…I will be getting to Mike in a moment. 

Mind you, neither Iowa nor New Hampshire are racially or ethnically representative of the Democratic party (or the country, for that matter) but for some reason, we still look to these two very white states to give us the pulse of things. 

The next two states to have a voice will be Nevada, which uses the caucus system (hope they can get the results sooner than Iowa) and South Carolina. Both are states which are far more racially reflective of the country and both are states where large numbers of POC will cast their votes. 

Which is where the former New York City mayor, Michael “Mike” Bloomberg, enters the picture. In case you have been unplugged, Mike is a really, really rich white man who used to be a Republican (and literally just switched to Democrat a hot second ago–opportunism, anyone?) and who as mayor of New York from 2002 to 2013 made life a living hell for Black folks and other POC. 

In 2015, Bloomberg spoke at the Aspen Institute and said the following: “95% of your murders and murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description and Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities 15 to 25.” You can read more about that speech here, as well as his thoughts on the controversial practice of stop-and-frisk. If you aren’t familiar with Bloomberg, you may also want to read some of his thoughts on redlining here. 

So at this point, you are probably asking yourself, why is any of this relevant? Isn’t the goal to save ourselves from another four years of the orange monster? Well, yes and no.

See, the thing is that the Democratic National Committee decided that the usual rules needn’t apply to any wealthy folks who can self fund their campaigns. Meaning that under some changes,  to participate in the February debate, candidates must earn at least 10 percent of voter support in four qualifying national polls, or 12 percent in two polls in Nevada or South Carolina. Alternatively, a candidate must earn at least one delegate from either Iowa or New Hampshire.

In layman’s terms, an uber-wealthy candidate can flood markets with advertising and pick up traction without doing any of the usual fundraising or getting to know the people. Meaning a self-funded billionaire candidate in particular can buy all types of visibility and go from people not knowing who they are to actually earning support from those people. In this case, Bloomberg—despite bypassing the work that all the other candidates have done—is polling well enough that he will be on the next debate stage. While his name is known to many as being the former mayor of New York City, what is lesser known is what happened during his time as mayor and the impact on marginalized communities like Black and other brown-skinned kids and young men. To be honest, as bad as it was, stop and frisk was merely one of the negative impacts. And that’s the problem.

Meanwhile, all the candidates of color have dropped out because they couldn’t raise the money to stay in the race. Andrew Yang was the last remaining candidate of color and he suspended his campaign after a dismal showing in New Hampshire. 

Look, I know it’s been rough under Trump; I am a Black woman in America and I get it. But with the national media turning its eyes on Bloomberg and virtually anointing him as the front-runner, despite earning nary a delegate, is frightening at best. 

Even the buzz around Bloomberg picking up Black votes feels disingenuous. It seems he is flooding Black markets with his ads and sadly the other candidates aren’t since—to be fair—they don’t have the same bottomless pockets that Bloomberg has. Even my teenager has come across his ads on her social media feeds. 

A few hours of researching Bloomberg will show that he is no kind, benevolent guy. In fact, he in many ways is just a superficially nicer and better put-together version of the current occupant of the White House. Also savvier and smarter and better able to hide his prejudices, which might make him more dangerous. Is oligarchy really better than dictatorship? Are a collection of rich oppressive boots on your neck better than one violent, unhinged and gleefully cruel one?

At this moment, there is a rallying cry that no matter who the Democratic nominee is, we must support that person. I disagree. Regular readers can pick up on the fact that we here at BGIM Media are no fans of Pete Buttigieg. His record on race in South Bend, Ind., doesn’t impress me and that is after me being contacted this past summer by his then director of black engagement. But as much as I dislike him, if he were to get the nomination, I would probably hold my nose and vote for him. 

However, Bloomberg is a rich man that plays by his own rules and has his own authoritarian leanings with a history of being anti-Black and misogynist, among many other unpleasant things. I am sorry, but as an anti-racist, I cannot support the nicer and more articulate version of Trump. 

This country is at a real crossroads, and it will require courage to get back on track even with the old system, much less changing that already fundamentally flawed system to something better. We cannot shortcut ourselves to an equitable and just nation. We cannot allow fear to be our guiding principle. Sometimes, change means that things will have to get really bad before we get to a better place. 

There is a new breed of politician rising up in this country and they don’t care about the little people. They aren’t interested in being of service to the people. They want a new shiny toy to be in control of. The American people are their new toys. All of them, not just marginalized communities.

After the past several years, we should know that and be ready to stand up for what is right, not what is expedient. We shouldn’t let “electable” be our guiding star, we should let our shared desires for a healthy nation that leaves no nation behind to be our North Star. 

If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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Reaching for racists before Black people is a bad look

You don’t have to take a population’s rights away in order to suppress them. You can just nullify the rights. We’ve been doing it in this country a long time. For instance, Black peoples’ right to vote is on the books, but literacy tests, poll taxes and gerrymandering are all tactics used to nullify that right ever since we attained it. While those are all great tactics, they’re not the best. The absolute best way to nullify our vote is to not give us a candidate who actually represents our interests. Problem solved.

This brings me to Mayor Pete. As of this writing he’s neck and neck with Bernie in the disastrous Iowa Caucus recount and he may well be the front-runner very soon. He did this by moving from a progressive candidate to a moderate candidate. While that move may have worked in Iowa, it doesn’t work on me. And by judging from his polling numbers, it doesn’t work on anyone who looks like me.

Some people see becoming moderate as a smart move, but I don’t. I see it as disingenuous. It means he’s not a man out to bring his vision of the country to the people. Instead he’s someone who’s interested in presenting himself to the world, and he’ll tell people whatever he thinks they want to hear in order to do that. That on its own is bad enough, but it’s actually much worse.

Right now the Republican Party is more openly racist than any other time in my memory. Mayor Pete’s lack of Black support leads to him becoming more moderate which means he’s trying to get Republican votes. In other words, including Black folks is too hard, so welcome in the racists!

The thing is, it’s actually pretty easy to get my vote for president. All you have to do is say what I want to hear. That’s what the whole system is based on, unanchored promises. Unfortunately for Pete, you have to listen to people in order to tell them what they want to hear. While he seems to have no problem doing that with “moderates,” he doesn’t really do that when it comes to Black people. Not to put too fine a point on it, but now is when it’s actually easy to support Black people. Now, when it’s just listening and unanchored promises. If he can’t even do that now, what chance could we possibly have if he’s actually got to face down the bigot army of Mitch McConnell? And now as I look at the potential for Nominee Pete, I think about walking into the voting booth, and having to choose between two motherfuckers who prioritize racists over me. Again. I think about all the white liberals who would want me to vote myself into oblivion for the sake of things like climate change despite their silence while people who look like me suffered under its causes and effects for decades. I think about voting on every other race and issue and just leaving the president boxes blank. Then I think about how some people would view that as not doing enough, as though voting for president could in any way fulfill your social obligation in 2020 America. Then I think about the 4.4 million people who think just like me and I genuinely wonder how long this thing can actually hold together.

If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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‘Wokeness’ fails from a lack of commitment…including funding POC candidates

We are currently living in the era of “wokeness” where buzzwords such as equity, diversity and inclusion easily roll off the tongue. For the more “radical” amongst us, it’s anti-racism, white supremacy and racial justice. 

Social media feeds us a daily diet of change language and sound bites, yet when one digs deeper, it’s not hard to see that most of this moment’s wokeness is just that: A moment.

And like every time when most people are having a moment instead being part of a movement—it is going to pass. This one will almost certainly pass once we are rid of the orange menace, assuming that we actually can get rid of him. Or that he leaves willingly if voted out of office, but that’s another post for another time. 

After the post-racial slumber of the Obama years, white America was jolted into reality with Trump’s ascent to the white house and his near-daily white nationalist rhetoric. People with virtually no analysis on how race operates—and the connection between racism and capitalism—really thought that America was mostly not a racist place. 

Since the 2016 election, people have tried to understand: How did we get to this place? 

Never mind that the Black folks weren’t exactly living their best lives under our nation’s first Black president. After all, the spate of highly publicized extrajudicial killings that were almost weekly occurrences happened under Obama’s watch. The creation of Black Lives Matter happened under Obama’s watch. Truth be told, it was never quite clear that Black lives actually mattered to Obama but the familial bonds of seeing one of our own ascend to the highest seat of power in the world has made real critique of Obama’s policies with regard to Black people taboo in a lot of circles. 

In the ensuing years since the reality show bully and buffoon ascended to leader of the American empire, there has been a real thirst for knowledge on race and specifically systemic racism, but that thirst for knowledge at present is having a hard time translating into concrete action on the part of a critical mass of white people. 

Now that election season is upon us, we are being inundated with information about who the best candidate will be to go up against 45. 

However, before we talk about the current slate of candidates who are still in contention and the overwhelming whiteness of those candidates, we have to go back to 2019, when we had a much larger and racially diverse pool of candidates. As of this writing there are 11 Democrats still standing and 17 who have dropped out.

Mind you, many of the folks who tossed their hats into the ring had little chance of getting far, but sometimes you just have to do a thing. If nothing else, running for POTUS has to make for good resume fodder and family stories. 

However, what was seen as most amazing about the pool of candidates was that it was the most racially diverse ever. The type of racial diversity that gets people excited in our current moment of wokeness. That’s when so many of us conflate people of color occupying spaces as being the same as POC actually having the power to make change. Or even having power. 

The thing is that out of the now 17 who have dropped out, there were some Black people and other brown-skinned candidates who at some point were receiving high praise and were viewed as highly viable candidates. In other words, they weren’t just running because they could. No, Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris along with former Housing Secretary Julian Castro were all attractive enough at one point. There was real buzz about their potential. 

Unfortunately, for each came the moment when the reality of being “valued” for being a diverse candidate (and the ensuing buzz) faced the reality that running for POTUS in 2020 requires cash, and lots of it. 

As each of the highly visible candidates of color dropped out, there was the inevitable moaning about the whitening of the field yet few conversations on the why. Why were highly viable candidates of color unable to secure the funding needed to stay in the race? 

Truthfully, it’s because even at this moment where supposed wokeness around race is high and people of color are seemingly valued, actually moving material resources to support POC in meaningful ways is not a lived value. 

In a world where one presidential candidate is blowing the fundraising out of the water $5 at a time, there is no reason that Cory, Kamala or Julian shouldn’t still be in this race (or all three). Unless the reality is that for all the talk of diversity, equity and inclusion, no one is really interested in any type of significant change. It’s easier to tsk, tsk that these candidates dropped out than to acknowledge potential systemic barriers to staying in and accessing funding at levels equal to their white counterparts. 

It’s easier to be sorry that they aren’t there anymore than to question why a white man in his 30s with negligible qualifications for the job of president has access to resources that allow lavish fundraisers in wine caves. Seems to me that being a sitting U.S. senator or former housing secretary is a better qualification for POTUS than serving as mayor of a city with a population of 100,000 people—and by all accounts not doing all that good a job with that job. 

The thing about systemic racism is that it creates a set of conditions that you can almost predict with certainty, even down to the fact that the last viable candidate of color, Andrew Yang, has proximity to whiteness. 

What good is having the most diverse pool of candidates running when, in the end, the same lack of access to resources that hinders the potential of regular Black folks and POC becomes an almost insurmountable obstacle for these candidates. 

For my white readers, if you truly want to change things, it will require a change in your mindset. It will require giving up something so that racial parity can be achieved. At the end of the day, the system is not some amorphous and anonymous system. Systems are made up of actual people, who can and do make choices in their lives.  In our capitalist system, money is a prized asset and a much-needed reality. What you choose to do with your money matters. Are you using your money in support of liberation or are you using your money to maintain the status quo? Are you supporting Black people and POC in their work to create change? Or do you think that your awareness alone is a form of support? 

If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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Trump: You get a car…and you get a car…the rest of you will get nothing

In his state of the union address (SOTU) on Tuesday night, Donald Trump turned it into a reality show/campaign speech and channeled Oprah Winfrey to give out “prizes” to Black people in a craven and calculated attempt to get more of the Black vote.

He really did that ish.

He really did.

It’s basically, “You get a car and you get a car—you all get a car!” like in Oprah’s classic giveaway episodes on television. Except that we Black folks aren’t all gonna get a car. He’s going to trot a few of us out and pander to a small number of Black people and ultimately give the rest of us the shaft—not a shiny new vehicle with a state-of-the-art drive shaft but a stick right up where the sun doesn’t shine.

Trump has been a racist from long back. From his days of denying Black people the ability to rent from his housing properties to his ad calling for the deaths of the Central Park Five (now the Exonerated Five) and his insistence that they were guilty even when that was proven false, and throughout his presidency making people with brown skin out to be the villains every time he has a chance and talking about how good he’s been to Black people as president—it’s exhausting and infuriating.

Some of what he did at the SOTU:

  • Showcased five Black guests invited to the first lady’s box for this year’s address.
  • Telling the story of 100-year-old Charles McGee, one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, and saying he had pinned stars to promote McGee to brigadier in the Oval Office.
  • Sharing the story of Tony Rankins, an Black Army veteran and former addict who he related was currently working in an “opportunity zone,” a tax incentive meant to encourage investors to put money into the poor neighborhoods.
  • And he awarded an “opportunity scholarship” to Janiyah Davis, daughter of a single Black mother..

And even before the SOTU, a re-election campaign ad that aired during the Super Bowl and featured Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old Black woman who was granted clemency last year, as if this marks a trend he would continue. He won’t. He’ll pass out a few party favors, try to confuse Black voters and hope that he can lure some of them to his side.

I hope it won’t work; Lord knows the man is toxic for Black people, amplifying and supporting efforts by the GOP to continue to cut into voting rights, gerrymander the hell out of states with large Black populations in red states so that they aren’t able to vote their own interests, and generally “keep us in our place.”

If you want a good rundown of what he’s doing and why, the New York Times (which admittedly is often no friend to Black people and other people of color or any marginalized groups even as they highlight stories of the nice Nazis next door) had a good summary article about this sideshow of an SOTU.

I’m heated. Bad enough that he somehow managed to turn the SOTU into a campaign effort but to try to use it as a way to pretend to be down for Black people and to lure them to his side is filthy and depraved. This is pandering of the highest level, and we (Black people, Latinx people, white people who claim they aren’t racist and so many more) need to not fall for this.

Trump is all about dividing us, trying to convince everyone he’s screwing over that he’s really showing love to them, and basically cementing his path to kingship. The Senate is already doing a lot of that work for him, and while there’s still a slim chance we might have fair enough elections to get this man out of the Oval Office, we need to expel him with the quickness.

If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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New travel ban tips us off: Trump is coming for all brown people, even citizens

I know that I often say I prefer my racists be up front and honest and direct about it so I know what they’re about and don’t have to mess around with pretense, but Donald Trump is something else. He’s a whole new level of blatant that might make me long for more passive-aggressive presidential racism. I’m just waiting for him to demand more money from Congress not just for his wall to keep out Hispanic people from Central America and Mexico but also to hang up giant signs at each coastline saying: “No Coloreds Allowed.”

Just a few days ago (January 31), Trump instituted new travel restrictions aimed at six countries for what seems to be the primary reason that brown-skinned people live there. Those would be: Nigeria, Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan and Tanzania. It’s aimed to virtually block immigration from Nigeria and Myanmar (a place where the Muslim minority is fleeing genocide) and to heavily restrict it from the other nations on the list.

Raise your hand if you’re aware of any major conflicts we have with these nations or if any of them are strongly associated with terrorists who have attacked the United States directly.

Did you raise your hand? Oh, you’re a MAGA-hat-wearing Trump follower. Go the hell away.

But really, this is an extension of what Trump did back in 2017, early in his dictatorship, a Muslim travel ban that got challenged in the courts—which ultimately ended up in favor of our orange autocrat. And yeah, you might have guessed it already, but a common thread in the countries added to the list now are substantial Muslim populations.

Yes, plenty of folks will argue that this is for our protection, because stirring up fear by slapping “Muslim” on any horrible policy makes a huge chunk of America feel safer and allow them to bask in their bigotry. But it’s always been notable that the Muslim nations that never seem to get added to the ban list are ones that actually produced terrorists who took part in 9/11 and are also nations in which Trump has major personal financial interests. Really, this is all designed to sow fear among those deemed as “other” and sadly it works.

What’s heartbreaking about this beyond just being inconsistently cruel to brown-skinned people because of race and/or religion is seeing yet more people in the United States who are citizens and now have to weigh how safe it is to visit those countries. There are people here who are citizens, whether naturalized ones or born here, who have family roots in those nations. But these days, under Trump and with ICE and CBP having been his loyal fascist enforcers and continuing to be so even more cruelly, these people have to worry if they will be allowed back into their own country.

It’s already happened countless times that American citizens come back from countries Trump doesn’t like, whether across the ocean or south of the border, and they are detained for no good reason. Terrorized and harassed. We’re not that far from Trump simply stripping naturalized citizens of their citizenship en masse and, for that matter, doing so to Americans who were actually born here. The administration has already begun trying that with Hispanic people, questioning the validity of the birth certificates issued at U.S. hospitals for them.

One post on Twitter really broke my heart: A woman talking about urging her mother (a naturalized citizen of 20 years or more) not to attend her sister’s funeral in Nigeria because she might not get let back into the United States—or at the very least likely encounter frightening treatment by federal jackbooted thugs.

It starts by just blocking people from entering the country, when we’ve boasted how we are nation of opportunity, freedom and openness—leaving refugees without hope and treating immigrants in general like some kind of infesting vermin. In the end, it will lead, if Trump keeps power long enough and tightens his grip ever more, to many people losing their citizenship.

Trump doesn’t like Black people. He doesn’t like Latinx people unless maybe they’re white-skinned. He doesn’t like Muslims. And while he can deny all these things all he likes (and he does), his actions are clear as to his intent: Make America as white as possible again.

Before I go, I also want to point out how all of this travel ban talk has brought out more subtle racism as well from people in the middle and on the left. Too many people are pointing out on social media how successful and educated Nigerians tend to be, as a way of highlighting how pointless and stupid the new travel bans are. Education isn’t a reason to avoid the racism; humanity is. All these people being banned are human beings and in many cases human beings facing violence or other threats in their homelands that often are caused in large part by American foreign policies of the past many decades.

This will continue. Immigration will be tightened more and more until it doesn’t exist for almost anyone but white European people if Trump stays in power. To be honest, it’s not just Trump. Plenty of GOP representatives and senators and their constituents want to keep out the brown folk and Muslims and kick out the ones we have. They need to be checked as well. But the single greatest architect of all this mistreatment and lack of empathy and protection for non-white people is Trump himself. He’s basically king of the United States now thanks to the Senate’s handling of the impeachment trial. There’s nothing to stop this from getting worse aside from voting Trump and a lot of other Republicans out—assuming we even get fair elections in November. And if we don’t, what will we do. Will we stand up to protect immigrants and refugees? Will we stand up even for our own citizens?

If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense.

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