SKID ROW-After the recent election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States, a tremendous “display of pride” has been seen all across America by Trump supporters, who mostly identify with White America.
It’s 2016 now and I can’t help but wonder, where was all this bravado and widespread arrogance from White America in 2008 when the United States of America almost completely collapsed financially?
For Trump and his supporters to stick their collective chest out now is laughable seeing how the country has already been stabilized by outgoing President Barack Obama. Sure, anybody can take the reins as Commander-in-Chief...now that all the heavy-lifting has been done!
Remember 2008, just before the election, when war and foreclosures were the two biggest concerns in all of America? Remember all the debates about a stimulus package and who should receive portions of it? Remember all the jokes about “W” possibly being the all-time stupidest President in the history of America?
Right. I do, too.
In Skid Row during that time, we had to differentiate between the “traditional homeless residents” and the sudden increase of “non-traditional homeless residents” who flocked into our community, already known as “The Homeless Capital of America.”
At the same time, countless homes on seemingly every block in every neighborhood across America had “for sale” signs in their front yards. Then we all learned what a sub-prime loan was. People were genuinely frightened. They stood in long lines for hours to pull all their money out of the banks -- to the point where “W” had to give a presidential speech urging Americans to leave their cash in the banks and trust the leadership of the Federal Government.
This was the moment in time for White America to step forward and collectively elect its most trustworthy choice for President: someone (male or female) who would, first, stabilize the country from total financial meltdown and second, rebuild America literally from the ground up: financially, by fixing the banks, and economically, by creating new jobs and industries, putting restrictions on previous de-regulation, and re-purposing the funding that goes toward multiple wars in multiple countries. This would have been that perfect moment in time for a Presidential campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again.”
To use that eight years later, after America has already been stabilized is so asinine. The Dow Jones consistently hovering above 18,000 points means only one thing: the Great Recession is completely over.
Jobs are constantly being created in a multitude of industries, unemployment numbers are at their lowest in decades and the real estate and home-buying markets have stabilized as well.
So, in order to “Make America Great Again,” after we’ve completely come out of the Great Recession, seems highly redundant, virtually impossible and arguably improbable.
All that should be done now is to continue building on the stabilization of America. In other words, there’s really nothing newsworthy to be shouting about at the top of one’s lungs!
Yet White America is getting its collective gloat on as if something has been accomplished. Please keep in mind that after eight years of an African-American President, the pendulum was bound to swing back to White. In fact, both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates were White.
So if White America has been in control of this country since its inception, and for eight years out of well over 500 years, a Black man helped America stabilize itself, exactly who is White America taking this country back from? Unfortunately, all the worthless and empty rhetoric is at the expense of other races and types of people who have all helped contribute to the current stabilization of America.
This “we gotta take our country back” mindset is troubling to me. As someone who has voluntarily chosen to live in Skid Row for the last 10 years and who sees homelessness and extreme mental illness on a daily basis from a firsthand perspective, I am allowed to make realistic comparisons to the “loud and obnoxious” people within White America who have sparked KKK parades, racially-based protests, fistfights and so much more.
I can’t help but see similarities between this behavior and the variety of mental illnesses, lack of common sense and/or use of basic logic that I see every day in Skid Row. It’s almost like saying we should “Make Skid Row Great Again.” Both these slogans equally defy common sense and logic.
And to those who pause at this analogy, I ask, “When was America great to begin with?” During the cowboys’ battles with Native Americans? During slavery? During World Wars I or II, the Vietnam War or the Korean War? The Iraq or Afghanistan wars? Civil Rights or Women’s Rights eras? When, did you say? Exactly.
Whatever moment in time one chooses to identify America as “great” would coincide with a moment in time when White America was either racist or discriminated against others. I single out White America because that is the group which claims to “run this country.”
If making America “great again” includes any of the above notions, while tens of thousands of men, women and children have already taken to the streets in protest marches, then I struggle not to laugh at the simplicity of White America’s “rank and file.” At the same time, I am in awe of the true number of racists there are within White America. I seems that countless numbers wish bodily harm, incarceration and even death to people who look just like me, a Black man, even though they don’t even know me and apparently don’t even care to.
That’s also funny because I look like the American President who brought America back from the brink of total collapse in 2008. President Obama is a smart, handsome and classy Black man who never disrespected women, Mexicans, Muslims, disabled people or anyone else for that matter. Currently, Obama’s approval numbers are well above 50% and this includes the approval of countless White Americans.
So which is it, White America? Recent history says you hate me, but you need me; you know this, but you don’t want to admit any of this, all at the same time -- symptoms of collective mental illness.
My suggestion to White America is to look in the mirror and decide among yourselves -- can White America truly “make America great again” without any Black or Brown people?
If the answer is no, then why are you making a mockery of yourselves in front of the rest of the world?
Surely, the rest of the world doesn’t see this as anything “great,” either.
(General Jeff is a homelessness activist and leader in Downtown Los Angeles. Jeff’s views are his own.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.