Obama, Trump and Kunta Kinte

Obama, Trump and Kunta Kinte

By Jamala Rogers | St. Louis American Columnist – May 4, 2011 

Donald Trump has pandered to the most racist, backward sector of this country for the last few weeks. His eagerness to question the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate underscored that being a birther transcends class and education; some believe that birthers are just white and uneducated.

The Donald was relentless in his challenge of the birth certificate, and last week, President Obama requested that the State of Hawaii Department release the document. For the White House, it was putting an end to a distraction. For many fair-minded whites, it would serve as a muzzle for the embarrassment, outrage or disgust that Trump fanned up in their faces.

But for most people of African descent, it was quite a different experience. It was watching Trump trying to turn President Obama into a Toby.

Anyone who ever watched Roots remembers the scene where a proud and stubborn Kunta Kinte was beaten into the obedient slave named Toby. The public beating was not just for Kunta, it was as much for the other blacks who had similar notions of being free. That kind of humiliation is part of the pathology of white supremacy that black people, regardless of their status in life, have experienced directly or indirectly.

It was easier for non-blacks to view Trump’s antics and shrug them off as attention-seeking silliness. But for black folks, it was a vicarious experience that raised the kind of anger that resides in the deepest recesses of our ancient African souls.

The Kunta Kinte Syndrome is now sewn into the fabric of most modern societies’ racial relationships. Black people periodically must be made to realize that they are second-class citizens and have no rights that white people will accept. That includes being born or having a legitimate birth certificate. It includes having a skill or a degree from a prestigious college.

For those whites who believe black people are innately inferior, white skin will always “Trump” the achievements of a black person. Once a black person internalizes this racial oppression, they are doomed to a treadmill of subhumanity and will never be equal to a white person, no matter how fast they run on that treadmill.

Goldie Taylor, contributing editor for TheGrio.com, shared her personal connection to the racist history of identification papers for blacks in this country. She told a story close to home – in the city of St. Louis.

In 1899, her great-grandfather Major Blackard was accosted by a St. Louis cop who demanded that Blackard show him his identification papers. Blackard had forgotten them that day and was beaten to a bloody pulp, arrested and thrown in jail. Twenty-one days later, Blackard’s white employer had to come to the jail to prove his identity and to bond him out.

Racism in this country is no laughing matter. It should not be trivialized or ignored. Everywhere Donald Trump goes, he should be met with chants of “No More Tobies!” Those people who were happily rubbing elbows with him at the White House Correspondents Dinner should have left him sitting there all alone. He should be treated like a pariah. Since someone of his stature wants to flaunt his arrogant racism, he has to be taught a hard lesson.

Of course this is not just about President Obama; neither is it just about the birthers. It’s about all who are not white and male; it’s about racist legislation and policies that strip us of our full citizenship rights. In this next period, we will have to fight like hell to just retain the gains made over the last century.

Fair-minded white people cannot sit on the sidelines while racist ideologues denigrate and de-legitimize the country’s first president of color. Criticize President Obama when he doesn’t live up to his promises or ideals, but not because he is the son of an African. History will judge his presidency. It will also judge us for accommodating the kind of society that says racial (or gender) equality will never be a reality in this country.

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  • rick  On May 15, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Important that people consider these deeper implications of the spectacle that we have been witnessing – just a continuing manifestation of ugly racism.

    Let’s rise above it – again -, as some must day by day, and ensure people of color have continuing access to the highest position in the land.

  • Rickie  On May 15, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    This article deals with the likes of Trump .Trump behaves like a product of the apartheid days in South Africa when non whites had to show their ID cards.The guy impresses as though he is a complete idiot and obsessed with his wealth . I am very surprised at the support he is getting from Americans who should be much more intelligent than that .God help America if he is a Presidential candidate .He should take an example of the kind of exemplary culture of the Obamas ,Clintons ,Carter, Reagans and Bush.Dame Edna Everidge gave an adequate description of what he is when asked by Piers Morgan.

  • Clement Roberts  On May 19, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Anything that goes on in any country and cannot be stoped it is because the government is a part of it.

  • Margarer Bartholomew  On May 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    For those who do not know there is only one “God one heaven” not black not white God or heaven, and one day we all will stand before our God. God bless those who believe and those who chose to not believe that we are all EQUAL.

    • TESSA  On June 26, 2011 at 2:44 pm

      BUT not without our own active participation. What about GOd helps those who helps themselves.

  • Francine Joseph-James  On May 20, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Slavery is over and will never come back. We are all equal in the sight of God. To God Be the Glory! Definiely, no more Tobies

  • francis jackson  On May 24, 2011 at 5:49 am

    Read the piece written by Jamala Rogers, Obama, Trump and Kunta Kinte. – very well written and enlightening – I am not condesending and nice about racism like some other bloggers who refer to God for all the answers. Some folks out there who do not look like us (black) don’t really like us – and we have to understand whom we are dealing with out here. Take the recent incident in Guyana regarding Bro Akbar Muhammad from the Nation of Islam who visited Guyana and was not allowed to speak to a group of lindeners as well as the African Community Development Association, instead, there were trumped up charges to incite and defamed his character. He was pushed out of Guyana. I hope people around the world see this incident for what it is/was; the underlying fixation of race and the blackman.

  • TESSA  On June 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Unfortunately too many young blacks are too angry to fight this type of racism in any other way but with violence, which is what the racists like Trump and some politicians and policemen want. We need MORE successful, especially male blacks, to step off their pedestals to help inspire and guide the very young, showing them the history and pointing out the way to a vibrant and financially stronger community because it is only with the latter, for the most part, can we do more for ourselves when we challenge the world of Trumps.

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