Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fight on Black Women

This is not going to be another piece that offers high fives and chest bumps to black people for that nail-biter of an election "victory" that occurred in Alabama. Nor is this going to be the piece I intended to write months ago on the "role" of Omarosa Manigault Newman, formerly of the current Administration. This is actually a warning. The events of the last 24 hours have convinced me that if black women are the canaries in the coal mine when it comes to issues involving this country, then your President threw down a gauntlet today.

Admittedly, it has been fun to wonder why Omarosa had a job in the Administration from jump. If we look back to her tenure on the very first season of Trump's reality show The Apprentice, we all remember her as the villainess who sabotaged every teammate, especially Kwame Jackson in the finale. We also know that she went on to appear on several other reality shows where she essentially perfected the persona of the mean black bitch. And then we know that she starred on a single season of her own forgettable reality show, sponsored by Trump, as a knock-off of The Bachelorette. And then she went to divinity school, inherited all of Michael Claude Duncan's money, and then she ended up back at Trump's side as his liaison to black folks during his presidential bid in 2016.

Earlier this year, Omarosa got into a spat with journalist April Ryan (which was supposed to be the subject of the piece I wanted to write about her), and then with the National Association of Black Journalists, and then with the current chief of staff--all of which should have provided credible reasons for her to have been fired. She garnered more press for her shenanigans than for delivering anything of substance. Yet she got dumped within twelve hours of Doug Jones' victory speech. The Trumpet tweeted an odd note of congratulations, and while every black friend I have on FB did a church holy dance, I sat still to wait for the other shoe to drop.

My spidey sense tells me that while we all long ago wrote Omarosa off as merely an ornate vase that couldn't display anything, the Trumpet kept her around because he assumed that she really might have some sway in the black community. As the one recognizable black person who was willing to serve as his emissary, her presence was meant to disprove the alternative fact of his racism. Perhaps even her new husband could work with like-minded brethren to persuade their meager flocks to follow along for the ultimate payoff. But when those election returns showed how 97% of the black women who voted in Alabama yesterday supported Doug Jones, and then were universally applauded for keeping Roy Moore out of the Senate, Omarosa's uselessness became evident.

Men like Trump who have no respect for women, hold the women who have no respect for him in special disdain. Witness how vulgar his statements were about Kirsten Gillibrand, Carmen Yulin Cruz, Frederica Wilson, and every other woman since he flamed Rosie O'Donnell. Knowing that he can't come out and say something truly vile about thousands of black voters, he can strike out at the only black woman in his orbit and allow her fall to represent his first strike against the rest of us. Especially those in power...

Like each of the recently elected mayors of major cities where his Department of Justice sent word that they plan to withhold funds from any of them that declare themselves as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. Any crimes that he can mischaracterize as weakness will be exaggerated  to undermine and de-legitimize them just as he relentlessly trolled President Obama. He will use every opportunity to paint black mothers as failures if any of our children become casualties of street violence. He will never call for police to reform lethal tactics and he will reward departments that move aggressively to contain black protest. There will be no federal legislative action on gun violence prevention as long as he can invoke images of urban unrest and pathology.

Not that he hasn't been setting the groundwork to do all of this and more while Omarosa's stunting azz was sitting over in the Old Executive Office Building giving herself unearned honorifics and ordering crap from Amazon Prime. It doesn't matter if you believe that she was fired or if she resigned because the only difference is the color of the paper upon which the letter was written.

And one last point about this victory lap folks want to take around the state of Alabama...don't be the crowd that lines the sides of the race to cheer on the runners. It is way past time that black women (and black men and other people of color) who live in these states began to strap up. We can be encouraged and cajoled to get out the vote every two to four years to elect somebody else, or we look inside our churches, sororities and fraternities, alumni associations, Mocha Mom and Jack and Jill Chapters, and PTAs to support the folks whom we already know can handle the job. The husband of one of my classmates ran for that same Alabama Senate seat as a long shot--but he ran. My hope is that he will get another chance to serve the people of his community in some significant capacity. And maybe he will be joined by more than a few of those thousands of black women who voted on Tuesday.

And maybe, Omarosa can finally get a real job.

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