Opinion: The Sad State Of Affairs When Black Men Stump For Trump

And here I thought Snoop Dogg was one of the chosen ones.

Back in 2017, the G-Funk rap legend had nothing but venom for then-President Donald Trump: He said “Fuck the president while smoking a blunt outside of the White House and criticized him in interviews several times. Snoop also creatively mocked his imagined assassination, twice, earning a clap-back tweet from Trump.

But in a bigger flip-flop than Shaq’s house shoes, Snoop sang Trump’s praises in an interview with The Times of London last week.

“Donald Trump? He ain’t done nothing wrong to me. He has done only great things for me,” he told the British newspaper.

Now this could be another example of Snoop trolling us, as he did with that whole “I’m quitting smoking” bit that was actually a failed product promotion, but I doubt it. It’s perhaps the most high-profile example of a troubling trend: Black men moving in the direction of voting for Trump in November.

A New York Times-Siena College poll from October revealed that 22% of all Black voters in six battleground states ― including my native Michigan ― would support Trump in a general election if it were held at that time. Black men seem to be leading this charge: Trump secured 12% of our vote in 2020, up from 8% in 2016.

Considering that the Trump supporter archetype is that of an American-flag-shirt-wearing, far-right white wingnut from Middle America, it’s both frightening and sobering that, even with the information we have about Trump, nearly 1 in 4 Black folks would vote for him in states that matter.

This concerns me for several reasons: First, there’s the ominous combination of Trump steamrolling his competitors in the primaries and that mess of indictments hanging over him being placed on hold until he gets in office. I’m nigh certain that, short of a medical emergency, he’ll run against President Joe Biden in the general election.

There’s also a palpable voter apathy (or antipathy) toward Biden, who has been on struggle mode in many of the recent polls of his matchup against Trump. Sentiment for Biden among Black folks mirrors how we felt in 2016, when #GirlIGuessImwithher co-opted Hillary Clinton’s terrible “I’m with her” slogan to underline just how uninterested we were in her.

It’s a reminder that the voting public is more likely to schlep to a voting booth only when it’s excited about the candidates. The 2008 presidential election hit a 40-year turnout high precisely because everyone was excited to vote for Barack Obama; that election saw the highest Black voter turnout since the U.S. census started keeping track.

In contrast, voting for two white dudes who would both be in their 80s before their term was over doesn’t inspire feet to beat to the polls. It’s not ageist to suggest that Biden might be polling poorly now because everyone thinks he’s about five seconds away from pulling one of those Mitch McConnell freezes ― it’s science. And it’s a contributing factor to why a lot of Black men are considering not voting at all.

Reprehensible though he may be, Trump is not a stupid man: Pardoning several prominent Black men before he left office was a strategic move. He let disgraced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, rappers Lil’ Wayne and Kodak Black; and Death Row Records co-founder Michael “Harry-O” Harris, who is likely why Snoop ran back everything, walk free.

These freed hip-hop figures square with rappers’ obsession with Trump in the 1990s and early 2000s. Prominent Black men rapped about him being a paragon of wealth and power, so perhaps it’s not a stretch for them to jump in his corner, even in 2024…?

Much of this, I believe, is less about Biden the man and more about what he represents: the Democratic Party’s longstanding failure to improve the Black condition in America. No U.S. president in either party has put any real chips into making things better for us… not even Obama: Even though he broke a lot of barriers, hoods that were hoods in 2008 were largely still hoods in 2016.

Still, Trump has given no one any reason to suggest that he will sweep in on his Magic Negro Cape and spend his final four years in office transforming the Black experience in America for the better. There are entirely too many examples of him saying racist things, enacting or upholding racist policies, or simply establishing an environment in which folks are comfortably on some Jim Crow shit to believe things will change. (Do you think the deadly Charlottesville tiki-torch protest would’ve happened if he weren’t in office?)

There’s being frustrated in a bipartisan system that consistently fails us and there’s actively voting for a man whose fomentation of hatred is well documented ― or not voting at all, which might be the same as the latter. Black men, I implore you: Just because Trump isn’t calling you the N-word to your face doesn’t mean he doesn’t view you as one.

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