Your boy Toupee Fiasco (aka Donald Trump) is getting a little trigger-happy with his presidential pardon finger. And it seems like he’s working overtime to win over Black folks.
President Donald Trump is enjoying the closest thing to positive press he’s ever received from Black media (who haven’t purchased a time share in the Sunken Place) after pardoning Alice Marie Johnson, a Black woman who was incarcerated for more than two decades on a first-time drug offense. Johnson’s a free woman today thanks to the efforts of Kim Kardashian West.
Just a week ago, Trump posthumously pardoned Black boxer Jack Johnson, who was convicted in 1913 for having the audacity to breathe the same air as a white woman. That whole thing made for a cute little photo op and a means for Trump to publicly state the obvious: Johnson’s conviction was racially motivated.
Pardons for Deceased Black Boxers
Since I’m sure he now believes he’s well on his way to capturing the hearts of the Lawry’s-loving contingent who might have the presence of mind to help re-elect him in 2020, Trump is talking about meeting with NFL players who hit that knee during the National Anthem for suggestions on whom he should pardon next.
He also suggested pardoning the great Muhammad Ali (maybe he thinks dead Black boxers are the way to our votes?), who was convicted for dodging the Vietnam War draft in 1967. But if Trump cracked open a Google browser from time to time, he’d see that President Jimmy Carter provided a blanket amnesty to draft dodgers in 1977. Also, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Ali’s conviction in 1971.
Ali’s lawyer released a statement following Trump’s press conference saying, essentially, “Thanks but no thanks, hoe.”
— Tre Ward (@TreWardWLKY) June 8, 2018
Pandering at Its Finest
Folks with even a modicum of good sense will see through Trump’s movements as the shameless attempts at pandering they are. Pardoning folks like Johnson is great, but it does nothing to mitigate the systemic racism that Trump himself leveraged to ascend to the White House. It’s like he’s trying to cover his copy of Mein Kampf with the jacket art for Soul on Ice and wave it around to let people know he’s “changed.”
But that’s all smoke and mirrors. In fact, Trump has recently issued pardons for assholes who would just as soon see Black and brown folks stacked in prison cells by like Legos, including demonstrably evil Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and Dinesh D’Souza, who has the nerve to be a right-wing blowhard while having the most punchable face of all time.
OVERRATED DEMOCRATS DEPT: So Rosa Parks wouldn’t sit in the back of the bus–that’s all she did, so what’s the big fuss?
— Dinesh D’Souza (@DineshDSouza) January 14, 2017
None of this should come as a surprise considering there’s something half-assed about every move Trump makes. For example, he announced that he’s nominating out lesbian Mary Rowland for a lifetime seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, but he still refuses to formally recognize LGBTQ Pride Month, as his predecessor Barack Obama always did.
Truth is, if Trump did speak with NFL players, they’d probably recommend he reverse his very public condemnation of Colin Kaepernick or publicly shit on the NFL’s new policy. But we all know none of that is going down.
Also, not to trash NFL players, but I can think of more than a couple academics who would be better equipped to explain to Trump in detail why the government should pardon Assata Shakur and allow her to return home. Not to mention the issues that NFL players are protesting are systemic in nature and not tied to the release of specific people from prison. But Trump is not about to disrupt the sensibilities of his core base of voters.
Johnson was an easy pardon in a society that’s becoming increasingly more lenient about drugs. Shakur would raise a stink, along with any real suggestion that Trump create legislation to improve the situation of underrepresented and historically disenfranchised Black and brown people in America.
Trump pardoning Black folks feels like he’s happily proclaiming that he’ll bring a dish to the potluck (that he obviously is not invited to), but that dish is a green bean and dried coconut soufflé. It’s all about the photo ops and the positive press. Don’t fall for the okie doke.
Dustin J. Seibert is a native Detroiter living in Chicago. Miraculously, people have paid him to be aggressively light-skinned via a computer keyboard for nearly two decades. He loves his own mama slightly more than he loves music and exercises every day only so his French fry intake doesn’t catch up to him. Find him at his own site, wafflecolored.com.