Does Black male masculinity threaten Trump?
When President Donald Trump took to Twitter and questioned if three African-American UCLA basketball players would thank him for the role that he played in securing their release from China following shoplifting charges last week, many viewed his caveat as self-aggrandizing and unnecessary.
Nevertheless, the student-athletes thanked Trump during a press conference on Thursday, and Trump tweeted “you’re welcome” to freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.
However, many in the African-American community compared this to when Trump assailed NFL players – 70 percent of whom are Black — for kneeling during the playing of the national anthem to protest the killing of unarmed Black men by police.
Trump called them “sons of bitches” and suggested league owners should “fire players” who disrespected the flag.
This could be interpreted as yet another unsolicited attack on Black men from a president who has a history of this and is viewed by some as having a problem with Black male masculinity.
In his first official press conference, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer condemned the accurate reporting that the crowd size for former President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration was larger than Trump’s.
But it goes back even further. Just last year, Trump reasserted that he still believed the “Central Park 5,” Black men wrongly convicted of the 1989 rape of 28-year-old white banker, were still guilty, even after a convicted rapist and murderer with matching crime-scene DNA confessed and was arrested in 2002. Trump’s assertion came after New York paid more than $41 million in a 2014 settlement.
David Wall Rice, an associate professor and Department Chair of Psychology at Morehouse College in Atlanta, is also the Principal Investigator of the Identity Orchestration and Research Lab. For him, there is no question regarding Trump’s processing of these interactions.
“He is such a beautiful example of white supremacy,” Rice said. “There is no metaphor there. Donald Trump represents what white supremacy hegemony in dominant cultural norms are. When he is asking or wondering aloud via Twitter if the UCLA students are going to thank him, or if he’s coming to the gut of Alabama and talking about should these sons of bitches be excused from their occupation if they are in want of demonstrating their democratic space in standing or not standing for the national anthem, those things are very much in line with what it is folks who occupy dominant culture say you need to do.”
There are those who suggest that African-Americans are at times too sensitive and attuned to racism. Oftentimes, mentioning the existence of racism is met with claims of “playing the race card.” Rice does not agree.
“I don’t know that we are hyper-sensitive as much as we are acutely aware,” Rice said. “It can be thought of as being hyper-sensitive, but I think that is often a dominant culture interpretation of the people who are often marginalized.”
While this may be so, it must be acknowledged that Trump goes after everyone regardless of race, gender, sexual preference or any other qualifier, and he often does it very publicly.
Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, who is white, who at the time was leading the criminal investigation into whether Trump colluded with the Russian government to steer the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. He has continuously hounded Attorney general Jeff Sessions, who is also white, for his failure to investigate former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and other Democrats.
Comey and Trump often feuded publicly and privately. Interestingly, many credited Comey for Trump’s win over Clinton when he announced just days before the 2016 election that the FBI was reopening its investigation of Clinton’
This kind of behavior could represent Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a “mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”
“He definitely has narcissism,” Rice said. “All of these things are obvious.”
While Trump may indeed be a narcissist, Rice has no doubt that he is also something far more sinister.
“There is no question that Donald Trump represents, in an elegant fashion, what it is that white supremacy demands of everyone in its sphere. White Supremacy demands that you kowtow, it demands that you bow, it demands that you demonstrate deference, it demands that you show allegiance, that you do not question,” Rice said. “These are all things that are personified in the 45th president of the United States.”