In 2019, SNL and Kenan Thompson, starred as a Black Trump complete with blond wig in the taped sketch “Them Trumps” with Chris Redd playing a Donald Trump Jr. clone, named Darius Jr., and Ego Nwodim as an Ivanka Trump clone, named L’evanka.
It reminded me of the campus-wide, award-winning diversity workshops that we — teams of pre-doctoral interns, post-doctoral fellows, and undergraduate students — used to offer through the Multicultural Immersion Program at UC Davis. I was an integral part of this program between 1997 to 2002 and still tap the deep well of profound teachings I obtained during this time of my life that was deliciously vulnerable, authentic, intense and transformative thanks to these programs.
Sometimes students switched roles with white police officers, who for the duration of the exercise would imagine being a BIPOC student who just got pulled over, and BIPOC students imagined being a white cop doing the pulling over.
I was surprised how much easier it was to discuss the inequities and feelings surrounding each role with the help of these exercises when aided by a genuine willingness to step in someone else’s shoes.
The most effective and fun role plays involved administrators, faculty, guiding staff and students, and lasted all day or weekend. I still remember creating and printing out dozens of identity booklets, “passports,” that revealed identifying information, like race, gender, religion, ability level and sexual orientation.
These passports were randomly distributed and participants were instructed to navigate life within elaborate sets that resembled real-life scenarios, neighborhoods, and situations they would encounter in modern American life.
We would convene periodically in small discussion groups to digest and integrate their eye-opening experiences. These full-on role-reversals have stood out as most powerful, effective and compassion-evoking compared to so many other teaching methods we employed in our year-long immersive course and programs, which included lectures, videos, homework assignments, books, articles, small group discussion, workshop design and group projects.
Imagining a Black Trump while everything remains as is (as in the skit “Them Trumps”) does not capture the total impact that white privilege that’s interwoven in dominant society and every institution and position of power has on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and especially on Black people.
So drawing on rich experiences from my past, I believe that in order for a white person to get the whole Black Trump and role-reversed Black privilege experience, we need to imagine his base and top political appointees to be primarily non-White — Black, brown, indigenous and Jewish —Trumpers. (You can intensify the experience by imagining that they are all Black, but if this leads to immediate short-circuiting go with BIPOC).
The rest of the population is also BIPOC but fortunately
grounded and clearheaded. Or at least, that’s what we are hoping and betting on from the off-set.
Now let’s take a stroll down memory lane, revisiting Black Trump even before he’s elected. He immediately lowers the civility and civil rights bar in general but especially as a president-elect with his vile language and behavior, such as bragging about grabbing pussy, mocking disabled people, and claiming that Europe only sends people to us who “bring crime and drugs” and who “are rapists.” One of his main priorities when in office will be blocking these bad people from entering the country and to your dismay, this is what gets his base most riled up.
The BIPOC moderates who support him argue that his policies more than his character are of the essence (the assumption and subtext here are that these policies that disproportionately harm the lands, drinking water, health, sacred ancestral practices and grave sites of your white communities are not indicative of “bad character” as long as they’re politely and civilly implemented by elected officials who refrain from belligerence and obnoxiousness).
Because Trump is Trump, you’re told, you can’t take the man too seriously even when he starts to attack facts and slanders the nation’s most trusted sources of journalism, clumping it all as “fake news.”
He himself tweets and repeats 30,000+ lies to millions of followers over the course of his presidency, becoming the source of direct news for a significant portion of his base and gets in bed with major news and radio stations run by questionable BIPOC Trumpers who serve as megaphones for nationalist, autocratic, extremist, racist, bigoted and misogynistic propaganda and rhetoric.
He calls forth the patriotic revival of the country and considers any objections, facts or history related to past or current mistreatment of white people “Anti-American,” “divisive,” and a ploy to “play the victim,” take advantage of big government, remain “lazy” and free loaf on undeserved benefits that hardworking BIPOC will need to pay for through raised taxes.
Somehow, this and many of his other dangerous lies resonate as truth rather than immediately getting chucked into the fake news bucket. It’s becoming more and more clear that the fake news bucket has already been reserved for all that is generated by the “enemy”— non-Trumpers — and based on fact checking and historical evidence.
To your shock (assuming against all odds that this experiment would in real life have gone on as long as this without white America coming to a screeching halt and treating this as the crisis it is), close to half of the population and growing are supporting Black Trump, who can do no wrong no matter what.
He’s risen to godlike, cultish invincibility, thanks to actual wack cults who he empowers for his own gain even though they are spreading the most absurd, unproven conspiracy theories faster than Covid-19.
You wonder why the majority of BIPOC, regardless of political party, don’t band together to stop this dangerous and serious problem that’s bound to hurt us all. You kind of suspect that since you’re at the front lines, BIPOC feel buffered by you and people like you. You can’t help but feel used, simultaneously a human target and a shield.
When things get really really bad, and you and your people –– as in dead bodies –– have provided the evidence of this, there will be enough outrage and momentum for everyone to spring into action. For a while. While all of it can be prevented by raising the bar and . . . investing in prevention.
Months before the presidential elections, Black Trump strategically and quite openly starts to spread rumors and mistrust of a well-respected voting and postal service process.
And just like he has done with countless key posts during his administration, his elected US Postal Service Board appointed one of his biggest BIPOC donors as Post Master General, whose reorganizing or eliminating Postal Service leadership immediately starts to disrupt mail service in some areas, sparking concern over whether the service will be able to handle the historically high volumes of mailed ballots expected in the November election.
These will most likely be from Democrats, and the tactics to stir doubt in the legitimacy of these votes couldn't be more in your face and obvious. It’s all out in the open as are the mind-blowing biased arguments and contradictions. If Black Trump wins, the voting process and mail-in ballots are legit. If he loses, it's all a sham.
Somehow, this makes perfect sense to college-educated Trumpers. The truth is –– logic has been thrown out long ago. We are now riding on raw, unmetabolized, polarizing and scapegoating human inclinations and refusal to look at who is getting picked as the scapegoats over and over again.
Our sacred cow and tenet, “one man, one vote” remains untouchable because of wishful thinking, denial and Black privilege. The assumption is that the BIPOC majority trusts that their people will see through all of these clear as day manipulations. They have always been good people, savvy about institutional racism, and will do the right thing.
When elections roll around, Black Trump receives support from the second highest number of BIPOC voters ever, 74 million. You discover that even more voters than in the last election are white and believe he has a point. Being ruthless is a sign of strength. Empathy, vulnerability, emotional pain and whining are signs of weakness. White trumpers learned these lessons in life and they’ve passed them on to their children to help them to develop thicker skin, fight anti-white racism and overcome adversity.
After the elections, the majority of Trumpers, egged on by BIPOC Congress men and women, “true news” pundits and newscasters, are convinced that the election was rigged and stolen despite evidence from the most trusted sources — elected officials — that there is absolutely no indication of this.
It suddenly sinks in how vulnerable the democracy that we've taken for granted really is. In just one or two election cycles, these key people, some who were appointed by Black Trump and didn't do what they were supposed to do, could be tossed out.
Now you really feel trapped into one of the pages of “the emperor has no clothes” book but remain hopeful that this crazy, surreal bubble will burst any moment. How can it not?
Other people must surely get what's happening now. Is it safe to speak out? Will you no longer be treated as if you are some paranoid or traumatized alarmist when you do?
They still kind of do or look at you blankly. It's clear that it's not okay to discuss politics.
You wonder if everyone is going along with this sham not to rock the boat because pandemic life is challenging enough as it is.
Or is it possible that the silent majority has turned into toads in a boiling pot, hiding from our house that’s on fire? Or is this just just default Black privilege?
Even after Black Trump incited the Capitol siege — which could easily have turned into another heinous mass shooting and the lynching of those who stood up to him if the mob had gotten a hold on them — you realize that the big lie, the big bubble, still hasn’t popped yet.
The majority of his BIPOC base (8 out of 10 Republicans compared to 1 out of 10 Democrats) continue to “disagree that Trump is to blame for the violence, don’t believe social media should continue restrictions on him and don’t trust that the results of the 2020 election were accurate.” (NPR/PBS survey of 1173 adults, January 11-13, 2021)
Any dots that you connect are seen as falsely incriminating, yet lots of dots that are connected and tied around your life, your needs, and your freedoms are not to be questioned or pushed against.
Black Trump and his most powerful supporters in the GOP and throughout the nation, 99% BIPOC, remain sympathetic of and loyal to the anti-white domestic terrorists and extremists, their constituents, who carried flags, paraphernalia, and other symbols that glorified the most horrific hate crimes done to whites during their siege into the Capitol — which is what they’ve carried with them all along during all their other “peaceful” protests so yeah, why change things up now? That would be inconsistent and weird, and would require self reflection and taking responsibility for wrong-doing, which won't work.
Days later as a final jab before leaving the office, Black Trump keeps his promise of eradicating curriculum on race which he called a “crusade against American history” and “toxic propaganda, an ideological poison that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together, will destroy our country”, and continues his administration’s efforts to restrict the telling of American history in schools to erase a legacy of white racism, Black privilege, genocide and imperialism on a day (MLK Jr) when one of the greatest white civil rights leaders is nationally celebrated (called the 1776 Commission report that the Biden administration immediately cancelled.)
Because why bring up the past? The past is the past and those unwilling to move on are stopping progress, Trumpers in support of a Patriot curriculum argue. He’s backed by white supporters who are tired about their ancestors being portrayed as victims and believe that they are now completely free of all their shackles and able to succeed in life by pulling themselves up by their bootstraps by following the example of others who have done so.
They agree that Black extremists are unfairly being vilified — they are merely doing their civil and patriotic duty by fighting the liars and those unwilling to celebrate America’s greatness. Some of these extremists do take things overboard, and yeah, warrant a Homeland Security domestic terrorism threat, but that’s because you have bad apples in every batch.
There’s no need to panic or live on edge. It won’t come to the fears that you’re blowing out of proportion. Don’t get too hung up by their expert military training, wrist ties, and death threats. That’s just a few of them. Focus on unity, love and
positivity. Don’t contribute to the divisiveness by being divisive.
🤔🤨 How and why would anyone do this, you wonder?
The moderate BIPOC constituents of his party are sympathetic and get your grave concerns as best as they can, but their hands are tied.
They need a party that represents their agenda and when weighing the pros and cons, still believe that Black Trump is most aligned with their priorities.
Then urge you not to let politics get between you — and if it does, it’s, of course, all on you and your inability to unconditionally accept them.
So here's your one and only clear choice: You need to similarly bypass atrocities and take pride in “not caring” as rolemodeled by the former First Lady parading around in a jacket saying “I really don’t care, do U?” during her visit of white refugee families and children put in cages by Black Trump.
Stating the obvious and claiming that racism is at play here means that you are playing the rac card, reading into things when there is no evidence of this, and dare I say it, falsely accusing innocent people left and right of being racist (because she claimed that she was utterly surprised by what she discovered –– and this jacket was the only clean thing in her closet to wear on that particular day).
Got gaslit, anyone?
Other meaningless “coincidences” are the disproportionate number of whites dying from the pandemic. No one seems to take it very seriously other than the alarmists always looking for trouble. Who knows, it’s probably their own poor self-care, irresponsible behavior, or unsanitary life style.
You hear rumors that a few brave elected officials in Trump’s own party have had enough and want out but are afraid of the repercussions, intimidations and death threats to themselves and their families.
These flickers of light signal to you that there is hope, there is a chance for a wave of great awakening, some benefit and lessons that came out of all the jarring and upsetting unprecedented moments we went through.
There is acknowledgment and perhaps recognition that things could get worse, much worse, if there is no hard-stopping them now.
But once again, these politicians wavered and backpedaled on their conscience even though white officials tell them that they’ve have received death threats for years and have not let this stop them. This has sadly been a part of their daily job description.
Rather than this creating a moment of empathy and compassion, learning what it's like to live with privilege and without it, it appears that privileged safety and power vs fighting for true equality and liberty for all still got the upper hand.
I could go on and on but let's stop here.
Remember that this is just a tiny taster of what BIPOC (particularly Black and indigenous people) endured for 4 years under Trump (and various other worse versions of this over the centuries).
The recent upsurge of alt-right, nationalist and racism momentum that's gotten unleashed is like an extinction burst of energy. If we don't want it to flare up bigger, we need to all be on the same page to contain it.
This means understanding that democracy is not only about “one man” ( one human being) being guaranteed “one vote.”
It means understanding that it's impossible to spread and permit unfiltered freedom of hate-speech and undiscerning support of “different opinions we don’t agree with” within a democracy when what is said, and corresponding political beliefs, movements and parties, are clearly or implicitly undemocratic, bigoted, slanderous, not fact-checked and malicious.
Strict policies need to more effectively assess and curb these.
We can’t remain stuck in a koan and analysis paralysis about "political freedoms" founded on uncivil rights, hate speech, symbols, behavior and agendas while the lives of people get swung on a pendulum while we figure out our confusion.
Social change and anti-racist reform would require constitutionally-defended civil rights to become the baseline for all political parties, not the yoyo that’s being toyed with and used to manipulate and gather voters every presidential election.
Permissiveness of these political tactics and status quo complacency of this kind have been at the root of our racial and many other related divides which won’t heal until this madness stops.
Black Americans have been most negatively affected by the white Trump administration and their race has everything to do with how things went down. I suspect that we can’t really imagine a Black Trump scenario fully playing out because of white privilege and power.
We are used to giving others, especially the most powerful, white white-collar criminals, the benefit of the doubt and have for centuries been just as quick to incriminate, terrorize, imprison or kill Black people even when their crimes and threat to society are non-existent or minimal compared to what the leader of the richest most powerful country of the free world is capable of doing.
I believe that a Black Trump reality would have been unfathomable — the objections would be so huge and unified, this possibility would be quelled before its inception, illuminating how our hierarchical racial system determines what’s permitted and plays out in our minds, shared spaces and daily and political realities.
The alt-right, white nationalist and entitled forcefulness and aggression that emerged during the Trump administration was already triggered by a Black president, Barack Obama, whose only crime was being Black and who was falsely accused of having forged his birth certificate.
What if the slandering, hate-speech, and charades had stopped there?
Obama didn’t even have a base that was mostly BIPOC, that lost touch with basic facts or reality, that pitted the opposite party and whoever disagreed with them as the enemy deserving of murder, or incited or glorified violence and the mistreatment of marginalized and vulnerable white groups.
In terms of actual data and statistics vs lies - the true fake news -, the economy has consistently grown at an annual average rate of 4.6 percent under Democratic presidents and 2.4 percent under Republicans since 1933, according to a Times analysis.
We need to actively seek out and serve as anchors and ground for facts in we want to stop spinning into this alternate reality that’s swooping across our nation faster than the pandemic.
Inclusion, equity and diversity to me means BIPOC and Black people, specifically, enjoying the same support, fierce protection, safety, justice and power as white people can count on from their white neighbors, the mainstream and their communities and institutions when they are in trouble.
It also means for white people to stay with the program and digest the gravity of what we very narrowly escaped at the lived levels. If it weren’t for the astute Black and indigenous voters who went over and beyond the call of duty in Georgia and Arizona to save our behinds and make up for general obliviousness of the severe danger we were in, the next four years would have locked us all down a very detrimental path.
This new beginning and Biden-Harris administration are providing us a promising solid foundation and structure to backlight and dig up our unfinished business and work.
I hope you’ll join me and countless others during this Black History month and onward as we strengthen our commitment to the BLM movement and social justice work, and more diligently advocate for civil rights and laws to become the baseline, not the differentiating factor, between political parties.
Seek out guidance and tools like soul authority for transformation trailblazers for continued deep racial healing so we can truly meet on higher, not just common ground, and transform ourselves and our nation from the inside out.