Finally. President Donald J. Trump has done something good.
No, I haven’t lost my mind.
Thanks to Trump, black folks are standing up for Latino immigrants.
In the firestorm over the president’s aborted policy of separating children from immigrant parents at the U.S. border, the voices of prominent African American leaders have risen to the call.
On Tuesday at a U.S. House Oversight Committee hearing, veteran U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, dispatched a blast that went viral, accusing Trump of sending immigrant children to “child internment camps.”
“Look,” he pronounced into the mic, “even if you believe people entered our country illegally, even if you believe they have no valid asylum claims in their own country, even if you believe immigration should be halted entirely, we all should be able to agree that, in the United States of America, we will not intentionally separate children from their parents.”
He declared, “We will not do that. We are better than that. We are so much better.”
Other prominent members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including representatives Barbara Lee, D-California, and John Lewis, D-Georgia, as well as Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, and many more have joined the chorus.
Here at home, there were the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and State Sen. Kwame Raoul, the Democratic candidate for attorney general in November.
Trump has signed an executive order aimed at reversing the practice.
That’s not enough, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson says.
Last week, she joined a contingent of other mayors that visited a facility housing the children of detained parents near El Paso, Texas.
“We believe the separation from these children is a human rights violation, and we felt we would be remiss if we as mayors, as elected officials who are closest to citizens, did not express our concerns on behalf of our citizens,” she told the Times of Northwest Indiana.
Freeman-Wilson, Gary’s first black female mayor, evoked America’s ugly history of slavery.
“While those are ancient times, increasingly we are seeing activity that makes me wonder from time to time whether we are in the modern United States, or whether we have gone back in time in a very frightening way,” she told the Times.
We know. Internment camps for the immigrant children of today are the slave ships and plantations of yesterday. Our ancestral families saw their children stolen and sold like chattel.
The outcry from African American leadership is a welcome byproduct of the racist and bigoted policies propagated by Trump and his apologists.
If elected officials are indeed “closest to citizens,” our leadership must help change the conversation. They should also speak up for the “Dreamers,” and for the victims of the ongoing natural disaster in Puerto Rico.
Their voices can mend the divisions that have plagued black/Latino relations. For decades we have been pitted against each other, in a divide-and-conquer strategy that has kept us all down.
Real leadership means speaking out to drown out the canard that blacks and browns must compete for the crumbs. And insisting that African Americans not succumb to the arguments that immigrants are stealing our jobs, government contracts and appointments, and educational opportunities.
Trump’s cynical, dehumanizing ploy to imprison children of immigrant parents is a mortal threat to all people of color.
Trump and his ilk know only one color.
It’s neither black nor brown.
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