May 10, 2017
President Donald Trump is taking aim at African-American students and jeopardizing the future of historically black colleges and universities.
Construction for Black colleges, Trump argues, could be unconstitutional because it’s racially biased. Without new buildings for state-of-the-art technology, the outlook for Black colleges becomes even more challenging.
I’m discouraged, but not surprised. Trump’s promises regarding the education of Black students are questionable at best. The president can’t be trusted with his rhetoric. He makes bold promises one day, then reneges on his commitments a day later.
Promises for funding Black colleges are no different.
In February, when Trump invited 60 Black college presidents to the White House for a meeting about funding HBCU’s, the session was abruptly cut short by a much-publicized photo-op with Trump in the Oval Office.
“The president and I admire the contributions of historically Black colleges and universities,” Vice President Mike Pence told Black college presidents. Pence said the Trump administration is committed to ensuring that HBCU’s “get the credit and attention they deserve.”
More deception. More smoke-and-mirrors.
Last week, Trump undercut a 25-year-old program that helps finance construction projects for historically Black colleges and universities.
Trump signed a $1 trillion proposed budget where he mentioned The Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program Account as one example of programs that “allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender.”
The United Negro College Fund said it’s “puzzled” by Trump’s characterization of the provision.
Cheryl Smith, senior vice president of public policy and government affairs at the UNCF, told Politico the program Trump used as an example isn’t based on race but on “mission, accreditation status and the year the institution was established.”
Trump’s signing statement was also criticized by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.), the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“Trump’s statement is not only misinformed factually, it is not grounded in any serious constitutional analysis,” their joint statement said. “For a President who pledged to reach out to African-Americans and other minorities, this statement is stunningly careless and divisive. We urge him to reconsider immediately.”
I am not puzzled by the president’s thinking, I see Trump’s move as another systematic attempt to dismantle years of progress by African-Americans. Trump, his advisors, and his Cabinet of mostly white men have no connection to America’s Black experience and they don’t care about the social, economic, health and educational challenges facing Black Americans.
Many civil rights activists were correctly skeptical when the Black college presidents met with Trump at the White House in February.
In fact, Morehouse College President John Wilson Jr. described the meeting with White House aides as “troubling.”
Wilson and other Black college presidents were hoping that Trump would set aside additional funding for historically Black colleges. Instead of a substantive meeting, some said, the presidents were lured into the Oval Office for a hastily arranged photo-op with Trump.
“In general, the meetings were a troubling beginning to what must be a productive relationship,” Wilson said in a statement to the school’s students.
I don’t believe Trump wants a productive relationship with Black college presidents. He has already signaled that he intends to challenge the progress of Black colleges by claiming unconstitutional racial preferences – a longtime and predictable Republican strategy to undermine the achievements of African-Americans.
What do you think?
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