Donald Trump and Mike Pence felt that a publicity stunt was needed. Two of the most powerful men in the world decided to use their time and taxpayers’ money to show their disdain for Black athletes in America.
On Oct. 8, Vice President Pence, with orders from Trump, took a flight from the West Coast to attend a NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and San Fransisco 49ers. But Pence wasn’t concerned about the game or even honoring Colts legend Peyton Manning. Pence walked out of the game shortly after the national anthem in what was framed as a protest against the Black NFL protestors. Since the beginning of the season, the 49ers have had several players to kneel during the national anthem, Trump and Pence knew that it was the perfect game to exhibit their stunt. Shortly after walking out of the game, Pence (or his publicity team) posted a prewritten statement on Twitter as to why he decided to leave the game. He was supposedly upset that players took a knee during the national anthem. But Trump would later reveal that he asked Pence to leave the game if players kneeled. Another factor that proved it was a publicity stunt was that members of the White House press pool were told to stay in their van because Pence would be leaving the game early. The entire trip cost American taxpayers over $242k.
Trump and Pence thought it was a wise decision to spend a quarter of a million dollars of taxpayers’ money to ramp up hatred against Black players. Their plan is diabolical on so many levels. With Pence leaving the game, the race war against Black players had begun and the divide was being made more clear.
Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones revealed that any player on his team would be suspended if they kneeled during the national anthem. Trump gave him praise just two weeks after blasting him for kneeling with players before the national anthem. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross implemented a national anthem policy where players must stand or stay in the locker room. ESPN’s Jemele Hill saw the vitriol in Jerry Jones’ decision and offered her Twitter followers advice on how to remain football fans while striking back at NFL owners like Jones. Hill suggested that fans hit them where it hurts, their pockets. ESPN decided to suspend Hill for two weeks.
Trump’s plan is in full effect. If Trump fails at nearly everything as president, there’s usually one thing that he gets right. He understands how to arouse his White base. He knows that his White base views America as their own and that Blacks and other minorities shouldn’t be granted the same privileges. So when Trump issued the Muslim ban, called White supremacists “very fine people,” and blamed the terror attack in Charlottesville on “both sides,” he was galvanizing the people who believe in him. He was galvanizing White supremacy.
Beyond his White base, Trump is suffering. He has yet to pass any significant legislation since becoming president and he has failed to unite and uplift the nation when it comes to tragedy such as Charlottesville and the reaction to the hurricane aftermath in Puerto Rico. Even some in his White base had began to turn their backs on Trump, finally realizing that he is a fraud.
Trump needed an enemy that could make his White base more confident in him again. As a result, Black pro athletes had become his latest boogeymen. Black pro athletes are easy targets for racists, or White people who don’t think they’re racist because they know a Black guy at work and listen to rap music on the weekends.
Black athletes are usually loved for their amazing exploits on the field of play. Because, in a sense, they’re just on a field playing a game and aren’t considered threats to the establishment. If Black men are catching touchdowns and running fast for millions, those who pay to watch them often feel that they shouldn’t care about anything beyond the stadium. It’s easy to ignore Black pain if you never encounter it.
But Black athletes are often viewed as rich, spoiled people who should be happy that they are given an opportunity to run and jump for money. It’s like Black athletes are the special Black kids that White people accepted and are suddenly being dishonorable by kneeling during the national anthem. “How dare they!”
It’s not about the national anthem, Colin Kaepernick, or disrespecting the U.S. troops. Our troops take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America. They’re actually fighting for our First Amendment right to protest.
But Trump knows that waging a war against Black people is easy, especially when he wants to reignite his White base. They could care less about brutality against Blacks if there is a sense that Blacks with even a little power have the audacity to become unruly. For Trump and his racist base, that’s a war worth fighting.