Americans must not allow this opportunity for positive change to be squandered


By Carlton Joseph

Last week, President Donald Trump decided that regardless of the Coronavirus pandemic, he was going to launch  his 2020  presidential campaign.

Frankly, I have no problem with his decision to start his campaign but I am concerned that at his recent rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma where temperature testing was conducted and facemasks handed out, Trump told his supporters that they did  not have to wear the masks.

Amazingly, many of his supporters didn’t, leaving health officials concerned  about the spread of  infection in the state and the rest of the country.

Then, during the rally we heard from Trump himself that he had told officials in his administration to slow down coronavirus testing because of the rising number of cases in America.

 “When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people; you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, Slow the testing down please,”  said Trump.Slow the testing?

Is this conman really the president of the US?  Are Americans willing to elect this imbecile for a second term? 

Trump’s decision to hold the rally on Juneteenth was challenged by Black Lives Matter and other groups who understand the date’s significance –  a hallowed day in Black history, when the nation’s last slaves, in Texas, were notified in 1865 that they were free, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. It was also the date when about 300 people were killed in 1921 in Greenwood, the most prosperous Black neighbourhood in the entire country, in  one of the worst racially motivated massacres in American history.

Trump moved the rally back one day and said- “nobody had ever heard of Juneteenth until he started talking about it.” I am certain that these remarks apply to his uninformed followers, who get all of their misinformation from Fox news and other right wing propaganda  channels.

But it seems as if many of his followers did not hear about his rally.  Despite claims of nearly one million people registering for tickets to attend the event, and the president’s false boast of never having an empty seat at one of his events, only about six thousand people  showed up in the 19,000-seat stadium.

While chaos reigns and the nation seems to  stumble along from one crisis to another each day, the list of prominent people who have publicly defied President Trump keeps growing.   Senate Republicans did not support the firing of US Attorney, Geoffrey Berman, who had investigated two of the president’s personal lawyers.  As a result, the prosecutor’s deputy, rather than the administration’s choice, replaced him.

A federal judge rejected Trump’s request to block the publication of John Bolton’s book.  Retired General Mattis claimed that Trump was trying to divide the country and make a mockery of the Constitution.  General Mark Milley apologized for participating in a photo-op on the steps of a church.  The Supreme Court blocked Trump’s effort to end Obama’s immigration policy.  And the NFL commissioner switched his position on player protests about racial injustice.

Minneapolis officials agreed to ban the use of chokeholds. The agreement also requires officers to immediately report and intervene if they observe another officer using a chokehold or neck restraint.  And the Public Schools board voted to end its $1 million school security contract with the cops.

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would move funding from the city’s  Police Department and reroute it to youth social programs.  In California, Mayor Gil Garcetti said he would be cutting $150 million from the city’s police-department budget. Governor Newsom said he was barring the state’s police-training program from teaching neck holds.  In Missouri, Kansas, the Mayor wants outside agencies such as the FBI review every local police shooting.  In Lexington, Kentucky, top police officials must now first approve “no-knock warrants,”

In the District of Columbia (DC), Mayor Muriel Browser had “Black Lives Matter” painted on the street that leads to the White House where protesters have been demonstrating.  Bowser said: “And it is that message, and that message is to the American people, that Black Lives Matter black humanity matters, and we as a city raise that up as part of our values as a city.” 

Rasmussen polls show a huge jump in the number of white people who believe that Black people are more likely to be the victims of police violence. In 2014, one of the firm’s polls showed 26 per cent of whites were of that view, while a survey taken last week put the figure at 49 per cent.   The video of Floyd’s life being choked out of him has shed new light on a four hundred year old problem.

The protests have raised the age-old questions in American political and economic life.  What do the protesters want?  How much will the American political and economic establishment give up to achieve the ideals set out in the US Constitution?  Will America’s deep-rooted bigotry and political dysfunction, undermine the protesters’ agenda? 

In the past, uprisings against police brutality, and policies aimed at dismantling systemic racism did not achieve major reforms.    The cycle is predictable:  Police violence is followed by protests decrying it, commissions and panels are deployed to study the problem, solutions are not found and years later the protestors are tired, the community remains poor and police brutality continues unabated.

In 2016, a coalition of racial justice organizations under the moniker the Movement for Black Lives developed proposals demanding investments in the education, health, and safety of Black people, instead of investments in the criminalizing, caging, and harming of Black people.   Federal policymakers and the Trump administration have ignored these proposals, and have actively pursued policies damaging to Black lives.   From rolling back oversight of policing to creating opportunities for the militarization of police, now is the time for all Americans to demand that the administration support this agenda.

The call for community control of law enforcement is not new. In the sixties violent protests swept the nation and the Kerner Commission was commissioned.  The commission’s findings  saaid that “white racism” and the “racial ghetto” were principally responsible for the underlying conditions that sparked the uprising.  “Segregation and poverty have created in the racial ghetto a destructive environment,” “White society is deeply implicated in the ghetto,” it continued. “White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.”

Every crisis is pregnant with opportunities.   Americans must not allow this opportunity for positive qualitative change to be squandered or disemboweled.  We cannot allow “law and order” politicians and oligarchs to further destroy black communities through policing and prisons.   Trump has been threatening increased law enforcement through martial law and police have been walking off their job when one of their officers is reprimanded.   “We the people” need to demand that these officers be fired and “We the people” need to remove Trump in November.

Five hundred years of white supremacy, slavery, dehumanizing and vilifying black people has placed Black people at the bottom of every nation.  Every race that enters America believes it is better than Black people.  Some religions teach that being Black puts you in the “untouchable caste” you have to serve the society and atone for the sin of being black and when you die and return you will be lighter skinned and be in another caste.  This is the mindset that white supremacy doctrine has constructed. We all belong to the human race; black people cannot allow this nonsensical charade to continue.

(Trinidad-born Carlton Joseph  who lives in Washington DC, is a close observer of political developments in the United States.)