The presidential election is coming up next year and now is a good opportunity to address the fact that when President Donald Trump was first elected there was a very strong reaction from those on the “left” who were opposed to Trump. Many of these people dubbed themselves as the “resistance.” One of the problems with this resistance is that it is mostly a kneejerk reaction to Trump’s election. The “resistance” has not offered a truly revolutionary or transformative vision on the part of the white left or on the part of the Democratic establishment, which have always been complicit in the racism that they have accused the Republicans of being engaged in.
The resistance rightfully takes issue with Trump’s autocratic tendencies and his unwillingness to confront climate changes issues, as well as many other objectionable aspects of Trump’s presidency. The problem is that the resistance has not offered very much for African people. The resistance, as the name suggests, concerns itself with resisting Trump, not with transforming the racial inequality that has been entrenched in American politics since the nation’s foundation. Those in the resistance remain blind to the fact that they are also complicit in this racism.
This is an issue that the Democrat Party has been forced to address as it begins to field candidates for the 2020 election. Joe Biden, who is one of the many Democrats running for the nomination, has faced scrutiny for his 1994 crime bill. This has included criticism from fellow Democrats such as Cory Booker. Kamala Harris has also faced scrutiny regarding her record on criminal justice. Bernie Sanders is still struggling to gain significant support among African American voters. It does not help matters that Sanders has attempted to defend white people who feel uncomfortable with voting for Black candidates. Sanders has also gone on record as an opponent of reparations.
By and large those who are currently in the presidential race are not offering anything substantial for African people in terms of real policies or even a transformative vision. The Democratic establishment, in particular, has expressed discomfort with those who are expressing a more progressive vision for certain aspects of America’s policies. For example, Rep. Ilhan Omar has received criticism from other Democrats for her remarks about Israel. It does not concern these Democrats that Israel is not only oppressing the people of Palestine, but that Israel’s policies in Africa help to uphold dictatorships there. Israel has also forcibly sterilized African immigrants. Speaker Nancy Pelosi will criticize Rep. Omar for taking a progressive stance on Israel, but Pelosi’s “resistance” manifests itself in the form of resistance rallies and little else.
This also applies to many of the celebrities that have also joined the resistance by speaking out against President Trump. Robert De Niro stands out in this category for his criticisms of Trump.
For all of De Niro’s tirades against Trump, De Niro is complicit in engaging in some of the very things that Trump has been denounced for. Trump’s reference to Haiti being a “shithole” country demonstrated his disdain for Haitians specifically and Caribbean people in general. De Niro has never made any offensive statements like this. Rather, he has been silently involved in the landgrab that is taking place in Barbuda. De Niro may not voice his disregard for Caribbean people in the manner that Trump did, but he displays it in his actions.
In 2017 Barbuda was devastated by a hurricane. The government wasted no time in taking advantage of this by working to repeal the Barbuda Land Act, which stipulated that the land in Barbuda was communally owned. De Niro is one of the people who stands to benefit from this. This is why De Niro has taken a leading role in the efforts to rebuild Barbuda. He plans to set up a resort there and the fact that the Barbudan people are fighting to retain the collective ownership of their land and their communal way of life appears to be of little concern for De Niro. Those who applauded De Niro for his rant against Trump are equally as unconcerned about the struggles of the Barbudan people, who are continuing to struggle for their land.
I use De Niro to highlight the point that even many of the liberals who detest Trump are, in some ways, not much better than him because they still complicit in much of racism that they accuse Trump of through their actions or through their silence. They were largely silent about how millionaire businessmen like De Niro use their influence to exploit countries like Antigua and Barbuda, but then applaud him for denouncing Trump. The problem is that it is not enough to denounce Trump’s rhetoric. Those who deem themselves to be part of the “resistance” against Trump must recognize that the issue is larger than any individual person and as offensive as Trump’s comments are, Trump’s presidency is a reflection of an American society that has never really given much concern for African people. Even those who oppose Trump are not innocent of this. This will pose a problem for the Democratic Party going into the 2020 elections.
Dwayne is the author of several books on the history and experiences of African people, both on the continent and in the diaspora. His books are available through Amazon. You can also follow Dwayne on Facebook and Twitter.