By William T. Robinson
The ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan is shown on caps and shirts worn by many of Trump’s supporters or base. Many Americans find this slogan to be offensive and racist, referring to a time of history of great wealth, prosperity and power for some White Americans made possible by the exploitation of African Americans. The displaying of the slogan is seen as a slap in the face to many African Americans, depicting times in history when Blacks were subjected to slavery.
Slaves were considered as chattel property; therefore, they provided free labor for slave owners, making slaves paramount in generating White wealth. It was on the back of Black slaves, unpaid free labor that built this country and made it possible for many Whites to prosper. The wealth of White slave-owning families was bequeathed on to future generations of Whites. Thus you have Whites who inherently enjoy privileges and entitlements they have not earned or deserved. These benefits are merely granted because of the color of their skin. Through no fault on their own, younger generations are not cognizant of the weight of slavery and discrimination in our country’s history, a history of alienating and dehumanizing people because of the color of their skin.
Many Whites are quick to rationalize about the economical, social and political power this country may have enjoyed on a global stage during different times of history. But Blacks and people of color have always been on the back burner and could not boast about the gains so many of their White counterparts enjoy. Generally speaking, good times for Whites in this country were not shared by African Americans. Blacks look back at the sweat, blood, and tears their ancestors contributed to building this country’s wealth and subconsciously feel conflicted that they were left out. But many of our White counterparts refer to these times of unbridled wealth off the backs of an enslaved people as great times for America. It is just a matter of great for whom?
Whether White America cares or truly wants to acknowledge the truth, there has never been a time in America’s history when African Americans totally felt included. Once slavery was supposed to be abolished, America found a way to continue their brutal and inhumane practice of trivializing the humanity of former slaves. While many Whites can boast of the economic legacy inherited and made possible by their ancestors, this is not true for Blacks.
Forgive African Americans if they adamantly refuse to embrace the mantra of Make America Great Again. When White America rallies about good times and unbridled prosperity, Blacks think about slavery, the raping of their women, sharecropping, lynchings, Jim Crow, Black Codes, segregation, and blatant discrimination. Make no mistake, the psychological damage of hundreds of years of slavery followed by continuing years of unmitigated and debilitating abuse and discrimination is still permeating and embedded in the psyche of many African Americans minds.
I am sorry if those who are so quick to showcase the Make America Great Again slogan don’t understand the outcry by other Americans. I can only assume they just don’t care or are just cold-blooded White supremacists. I say this because if they really cared how African Americans feel about this slogan, they wouldn’t flaunt it out of empathy and respect for African Americans feelings. But because you have Whites (and a few African American ‘props’ who should know better) continue to display the Make America Great Again slogan seen by most as disrespectful, painful and hurtful—there is a disconnect or hate that continues to divide this country.
If those so adamantly supportive of the Make America Again slogan put themselves in the shoes of African Americans and saw things from their lenses, I think they would understand the disrespect, pain, hurt and disdain felt by some Blacks.
Better yet, do you think it would be respectful for people to display a ‘Long Live Hitler’ slogan? I think not. That would understandably cause an incendiary response. People (especially Jews) would be enraged of the insensitivity of those displaying the slogan.If the wearers of the slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ had any empathy for the history and feeling of African Americans in this country, they would not display the slogan out of deference and respect for their Black counterparts. But for many, it is their intent to use the slogan to rally their racist base.
Don’t feel vilified and spurned if you willingly and adamantly wear the slogan Make America Great Again. Many Americans will decry you as a racist or White nationalist. Everyone wants their feelings to be respected, but what about Black feelings? Thanks to the courageous and morally conscious Whites who have always stood up and fought against the injustices hurled and imposed against African Americans throughout our tumultuous history in this country.
It is easy to conclude why Make America Great Again solidifies Blacks who are so adamantly into the Black Lives Matter Movement. America needs to stop enacting actions or movements trivializing African Americans’ worth—acting as if their feelings are inconsequential. I hope defenders of the Make America Great Again slogan do not continue to insult African Americans by rationalizing and trying to legitimize the slogan.
Hopefully, changes will occur and African Americans, as well as all Americans, can honestly and proudly proclaim that this country is great for all.
This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride.