The Republican National Convention could not have opted for a more appropriate backdrop. The Convention aired hours after a black man, Jacob Blake, was critically wounded by police, as many continued to protest Trump’s Law and Order America, as Hurricane Laura rendered her wet wrath throughout numerous states in the nation, and as the Corona virus continued to fatally claim victims. The societal happenings framed the convention in the consequences of its inherent peril, the reality hovering over the convention like clouds that threatened to rain on a crowd too arrogant and too convinced of their invincibility to even bring an umbrella.
The four nights proved emotionally and cognitively draining, but, for the black audience, the transparency was oddly refreshing. Unlike the DNC that pandered to a young demographic and employed optics to seduce a suffering public into the promise of diversity and the unity in castigating President Trump, the Republicans made their objectives clear as day.
Betraying black minds permeated with a white supremacist ideology, the black speakers collectively functioned as mouthpieces for white nationalist thought while personifying white power. A thread that tied all the black speakers together was the commitment to presenting blackness as a burden an American mindset alleviates. “American,” as evidenced by the convention, is a guise for white nationalism. Whether Daniel Cameron, the Kentucky Attorney General who mentioned Breonna Taylor as a fleeting thought as her body lay cold in the ground her murders stand on, Jack Brewer who boldly contended that “all lives matter” as Jacob Black lay handcuffed to a hospital bed fighting for his life, Burgess Owens who resurrected the memory of an enslaved forefather to uphold those who continue to benefit from his great grandfather’s abjection, to Clarence Henderson who asserted that “you don’t know history” if you oppose Trump, the selected black speakers delineate blacks who consummate Americanism and become practitioners for the very ideologies that made their ancestors subhumans.
Black, or should I say melanated, presence at the convention complied to the assertions Lou Holtz made in a cowardly speech. Holtz’s speech did not address the blacks protesting for justice by name, but everyone knew who he referenced when he spoke to those who “ask what their country can do for them, not what they can do for their country.” To this, I say, what more can one do for a country built in the bones of their ancestors? Nevertheless, the selected blacks delineate that what blacks can do for their country is lick the white man’s boots and articulate the white power personified by the words spoken. Collaboratively, they illuminate the cognitive bondage that permeates the black who thinks that by denying systemic and social oppression and rewriting their ancestral abjection they attain freedom—the black who thinks that by regarding their skin color as second to their character, that somehow they’ve consummated their status as Americans. There are so many things that black people can and should be fighting for, from nationalist objectives like the right to own land and operate our communities autonomous from the government, to demanding jobs that enable a quality of life, not contemporary enslavement on a corporate plantation. In tandem, the black speakers allude to a line from Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.” Angelou famously wrote: “I am the hope and dream of a slave.” The RNC depicts these hopes and these dreams as a prop in the white man’s sinister plot to maintain both the plantation politic and his reigning role in the rise of an unmasked and unapologetic White Supremacy
Moreover, fighting to re-elect a man who worked to make Generation X extinct, is not something any black person should pursue. To do so betrays the mentally enslaved blacks as having the same hollow, hegemonic core of the country. The moral of the story: For the African in America, the racist national party posits emptiness as constituting enlightenment.
In addition to the discourse on blackness and Americanism, here are nine other moments that stood out from the Racist National Convention.
- Clarence Henderson’s reference to being born without a birth certificate.
Though implemented in the narrative Henderson shared to delineate societal advancement, Henderson’s words illuminate the birther contentions Trump displaced onto to black political figures Barack Obama and Kamala Harris as also ignoring the reality that many blacks, prior to and during the 19th century, were born without birth certificates as a testament to the general disregard for their lives beyond labor.
- “How can we focus knowing our kids are not protected?”—Lara Trump
Here, Trump speaks directly to the white female constituency, however, her words articulate an essential lesson to the black collective. We will never be protected as long as we live in a policed country.
- “ We will restore Law and Order”
By Law and Order, Trump references white nationalism. His entire campaign is an act to restore Law and Order from the black presidency that preceded him. Law and order, or heavy policing and white nationalist behavior enforced by inviting the white couple who shot at protestors to speak, posits white supremacy as invincible to any and all things that are not white. This is also the reason, I would argue, that the large, predominately white crowds that gathered to watch Melania Trump, Mike Pence, and Donald Trump speak, failed to don masks or practice social distancing—to present whiteness as an indomitable force against the “China” virus.
- Emphasis on peaceful protesting
“Peaceful protesting,” or the democrat’s inability to properly police and prosecute those exercising their freedom of speech, proved the subject of many jabs throughout the RNC. These jabs proclaimed peaceful protesting as an oxymoron, yet, what was most transcendent about this banal phrasing is the convention’s omission. There was no talk of peaceful policing, because, policing brings peace to America by antagonizing those of African descent.
- “I know what racism looks like”
This phrase was used countless times by the black faces selected by the RNC to project white nationalist thoughts. This phrase personifies political gaslighting that presents its white audience’s racist actions as non-racist.
- Burgess Owens: “Chimney sweeper” reference
Owens, who like Clarence Henderson, employed an enslaved forefather’s story to delineate his “advancement,” asserted his “rise” from chimney sweeper to standing at the podium before a white supremacist viewership as embodying the American dream. His behavior and his political functionality proves that he, and the black men with whom he shared the stage, remain chimney sweepers stained by the sut of white supremacy.
- Consistent Reference to Democratic reliance on black compliance
The Democratic Party is what the Republican Party used to be, thus, the reference to Frederick Douglass is the same as referencing the popularized black figures who openly endorse democratic candidates. This consistent dig depicts ignorance as a core attribute that this convention relies on to render its pseudo logic.
- Alice Johnson’s testimony and release illuminate that a racist country would rather free one person that alter the broken system that wrongfully convicted and sentenced Walker, and continues to displace the same violence onto others daily. Because the criminal justice system mainly disenfranchises black people, it it is to be rreinforced not reformed.
- “Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction” Ronald Reagan
This is perhaps the most important quote spoken throughout the four days, as it accidentally articulates a truth pertinent for black liberation. White nationalism accrues its traction from complicity and espousal to the false conviction of its strength. What I heard when these words were spoken, was fear. Fear that the cup runneth over for those exasperated with four-hundred years of bondage and systemic disenfranchisement. Fear that they are a bullet away from being met with an unconsidered resistance. When I heard these words, I thought back to Dr. Francis Cress Wesling and The Isis Papers, which delineates the cruel efforts the white race implements, and continues to implement, to survive. They may be killing us, but it is them that are growing weary. It is our adversaries that are a Nat Turner away from reeping what white supremacy has sown for centuries.
Moral: White nationalism is as fragile as those who practice it. The oppressed are stronger than its adversaries. .