After Ice Cube garnered headlines for his tweets announcing a collaboration with the Trump administration on what was called a Platinum Plan for Black America, the hip-hop mogul faced immediate backlash for supposed hypocrisy and misogyny.
“Black men are breaking my heart with this caping for [Ice Cube and the president]. Apparently y’all want to be to 2020 what White women were to 2016,” tweeted scholar Brittney Cooper.
Political analysts also chided the rapper for failing to admit that he declined invitations to meet with both the Joe Biden campaign and Kamala Harris.
The Los Angeles-based rapper neither disavowed working with nor endorsed the president, but the illusion of aligning with Trump allowed campaign officials to signal Ice Cube was proof of “Blaxit” – an initiative calling for the exodus of Black Americans from the Democratic party.
50 Cent encouraged followers to “vote for Trump” after posting that Biden’s proposed tax plan only amplified criticism. He’s since dialed back his support. The sometime rapper faced a mountain of criticism for claiming he doesn’t “care Trump doesn’t like Black people” in the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election.
Rosa Clemente, an activist and former Green party vice-presidential nominee, argued that these celebrity interventions run counter to existing, youth- and women-led initiatives fighting for institutional change.
“They’re right to critique the Democratic party, where they’re wrong is to act like there aren’t already movements out here,” she said. “We don’t need another Black agenda. Yet here come these rappers over the age of 50 who’ve publicly decided to align with a white supremacist”.
While polls show Trump trailing his Democratic rival, his campaign launched a late bid for Black voters by touting the administration’s record on criminal justice reform, funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and declines in Black unemployment – and even pledging to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
The South Carolina senator Tim Scott has been one of the president’s most loyal supporters in the administration’s push to attract Black men. Ahead of the state’s February primary, the former Republican congressional candidate Brad Mole, of Charleston, told the Guardian that outreach is resonating in places like the more traditional south. “At some point Black conservatives decide they’re ‘not voting for this person or this ticket just because [their] grandma or parents did,’” he said.
Terrance Woodbury, founding partner of the marketing research firm HIT Strategies, argues the conservative political leanings of public figures like 50 Cent or Ice Cube speak to a faction of the Black male electorate underrepresented in political conversations.
“These trends did not start this cycle and there are generational differences. Black men in general are more socially conservative but Black men under 50 are positioned very differently than their elders,” he said.
“Beyond generation, there’s both a turnout and performance problem that Democrats have experienced with Black male engagement,” he added.
“Trump’s support among Black Americans is underwater, yet consistent over time with Black support for GOP presidential candidates,” Sam Fulwood III, a fellow with American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies (CCPS), wrote for the Hill.
Before dying of the coronavirus, the Republican entrepreneur and Trump campaign surrogate Herman Cain advocated for “Blaxit”, (a Black exit from the Democratic party) by telling Fox Business that Black Americans have “been brainwashed” into hating Trump, but many aren’t “buying the perception”.
But in decades since white southerners flocked to the Republican party in response to the civil rights movement, Black voters have still maintained close ties with Democrats.
Pew analyzed 2017 data and found that although African American voters remain overwhelmingly Democratic, support “has declined modestly”. About two-thirds of African Americans identified as Democrats, down from the first half of Barack Obama’s presidency.
Back then, about 75% of Black Americans affiliated as Democrats. Just 8% identified as Republican, the same percentage as voted for Trump in 2016.
Young Black voters, both men and women, are defecting most. Fulwood noted CCPS’s latest survey found “young Black Americans tend to view Democrats much less favorably – and Republicans more favorably – than their older peers.”
But while the survey found 79% thought Trump is racist, 74% said he’s “incompetent” and 73% disagree with his policies, men more often “admired how the president shows strength and defies the establishment”.
“Young Black men are rationally responding to their experience within an American political system that for all of their lives has been either hostile or indifferent to their concerns that the political deck is stacked against them and that politicians – Democratic or Republican – just don’t care about them,” he said.
However, that strongman persona – defined by bully-like attacks, sexism and a refusal to apologize – could seal the deal for conservative, Black men disillusioned with the Democrats, and some critics contend that endangers Black women.
“It’s internalized racism and misogyny that would allow anyone to align with a party so against your basic humanity while a majority of Black women fight them,” Clemente said, noting Black men, like most men overall, least supported a Black vice-president candidate.
“We’re leaders in this movement and we will not be erased.”
A fight for the next generation
Woodbury noted that young men in HIT’s focus groups have been “extremely anxious about race, and cynical toward an entire political system that they feel like has not produced anything for them”.
Across the country progressive leaders and activists are also working to attract young, Black voters who say Democrats no longer speak for them. Clemente argued “Democrats are dropping the ball” in reaching Black men.
“They’re voting for their lives,” she said, adding Black people can be critical of Democrats without being contrary to the movements that advocate for them.
“Young people keep hearing ‘we’re against ending fracking,’ ‘we’re against defunding police,’ ‘we’re against forgiving students loans,’” Clemente said. “They hear a party so against their values they want to know what the fuck are you even for?
By stepping into the fray so late in the game, she said, conservative celebrities silence the communities who will still support them long after election day ushers in a president working against them.
Credit: Source link