Tacuma Roeback: Trump’s comment in ‘black jobs’ debate exposes his true nature

In a presidential debate more embarrassing than a straight-to-Tubi movie, one of the most awkward moments came when the “black people” portion of the show began.

President Biden and Donald Trump were asked how they would address the needs of black voters.

It was then that Trump commented that he would prevent immigrants from accepting “black jobs.”

It was a dangerous response from the former President, who once again reminded us of his divisive, scarcity and zero-sum vision of governance.

The comment was shocking and downright confusing, leaving many wondering, “What does he mean by ‘jobs for black people’?”

Even though my parents often say I sometimes look too deeply into things, I can’t help but feel bad about that comment, which only deepens my concern about what another four years of Trump might look like, especially as a Black person in America.

Fortunately, armies of “black Twitter” flooded X to offer their interpretations while reimagining the culture, protocols, and meaning of a “black job,” offering a temporary escape from a disturbing reality.

But if you’ve been black long enough in this country, you know that sadness can lurk beneath laughter and that joy is often hard-won in the face of systems that are often not in our favor.

In Trump’s comment, I heard an old Freudian slip, where someone unintentionally says something that reveals their inner feelings: they say the quiet part out loud.

Do you think all black people are worthy of having only one type of job?

What Trump also said was a secret message derived from the Republican Party to black voters worried about their economic prospects in general and whether newly arrived immigrants would take their jobs, in particular.

It’s a concern that is deeply felt here in Chicago, where a recently released report titled “Color of Wealth in Chicago” found that the median net wealth of a typical Black family in the city is $0, while the median net wealth of white families is $210,000.

I won’t dare try to get inside Trump’s mind to figure out what he meant by “jobs for blacks,” but I can draw on precedents that are enough to make me suspicious of the idea that he really cares about us and our jobs.

Earlier this year, he launched a pair of gold high-top sneakers for $400, a move he believed would connect him with black voters because, “Hey, we love sneakers.”

In April, he appeared at an Atlanta Chick-fil-A (on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, hosted by a black conservative), where he made sure to take selfies with black workers and customers because “Hey, black people love chicken.”

This is also the same candidate who said in February that his legal troubles were what made him relatable to black voters.

“A lot of people said that’s why black people liked me, because they had been so hurt and discriminated against,” he told a group of black conservatives at a meeting in South Carolina.

To reiterate, Trump conflated his legal problems, which arose from offering a hush money payment to a porn star and interfering with an election, with the decades of discriminatory policing and criminal justice practices that have affected black people.

What happened on national television Thursday night was worthy of ridicule, but also sobering.

The “black jobs” comment came from the mouth of a 2024 presidential candidate who cannot see us for who we are: unique, wonderfully divergent and complex human beings.

Trump’s ideas about black people are based on caricatures.

However, he’s quite the “Boondocks” character in his own right.

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