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President Trump's Meeting With HBCU Presidents Waste of Time

by Todd A. Smith

 

Waste of Time


I tried.


All presidents and leaders should be respected and prayed for even though a person might not have supported them.


Although I am not a supporter of most of President Donald Trump’s policies, I was excited that he said he wanted to provide support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).


Therefore, I wrote an entire column praising the fact that he was meeting with the presidents of HBCUs and providing the much-needed financial relief that critics say did not come during the Barack Obama presidency.


What the African-American community received was an executive order that sounded more like a press release to paraphrase journalist Roland Martin and a photo-op.


However, many HBCU presidents walked away from the meeting believing that Trump did not even listen to their concerns.


Although he wasted the HBCU presidents’ time, Trump will not waste mine.


Therefore I offer my original op-ed that offered praise for his efforts to help HBCUs and pray that one day he is as sincere about helping the African-American community as he is with taking pictures with leaders from the African-American community.



Sometimes Tokenism Has to Be Used for One’s Benefit



African-Americans have played the game since the days of the Middle Passage.


Many pretended to support their slave masters while secretly devising plans to outwit them and escape.


Others played the happy-go-lucky slave, singing Negro spirituals, which included secret tips to help escaping slaves navigate their way to the North.


So when President Donald Trump signed an executive order giving billions in research dollars to financially strapped Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the current African-American community should gladly accept the help that was “allegedly” denied under the previous administration, but continue to sleep with one eye open knowing that Trump’s gifts come at a price.


Trump’s executive order is just a new form of tokenism, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

There’s nothing wrong with being a token if you know you are the victim of tokenism and you use it to your advantage and the advantage of the community.


According to the Houston Chronicle, “(The executive order) is expected to significantly strengthen the office that pushes the federal government to do business with the colleges by moving it to the White House and providing it specific goals, according to those who are helping write the order.


“The potential is huge considering that the federal agencies have thousands of contracts with colleges, universities and think tanks worth billions of dollars, primarily for research.”


At a time when many HBCUs are struggling with enrollment and finances, Black colleges cannot be picky when it comes to who gives them money.


Turning down desperately needed money is basically turning down Black students who desperately need the education, academically, socially and culturally, that they cannot get at predominantly White institutions.


At a time when racism seems to be experiencing a renaissance thanks to the often-ignorant rhetoric of Trump, the support system that HBCUs offer Black students is needed more than ever.


Furthermore, many African-Americans who believe HBCUs should not take “Trump’s money” have to ask themselves have they been financially supporting HBCUs since their graduation?


If they have not been financially supporting their alma mater, they cannot complain when a person of another color shows more support for Black people than they do.


When my mother worked in the now defunct North Forest Independent School District, a predominantly Black school district in Houston, the district had to have a certain amount of White teachers to receive state funding.


In order to persuade White teachers to work for a poor, inner city school district, they recruited White college students from out of state when they could not get local White teachers to come to North Forest.


The White teachers knew they were being used as tokens, so they took North Forest’s money, accumulated enough experience then took jobs in more affluent, White school districts.


Those teachers were tokens, but they used the school district as much as the school district used them.


HBCUs have to do the same thing.


Sometimes in life, a person has to do what they have to do in order to get to the next level in life.


Financially, many HBCUs are at the lowest possible level a college can be at.


If those schools do not take Trump’s grants and move up to the next level, then one more slip and fall could lead to the demise of our cherished schools.


Closing the doors of more HBCUs seems like more of a sin than accepting Trump’s insincere executive order.


Unfortunately, the African-American community has to continue to play the man’s game until we step up and become the man and truly support our own.


########



Just like this original op-ed was a waste of time, Trump’s meeting with the presidents of HBCUs was a waste of their time.  Until he has something more than a photo-op planned, the next time the African-American community should give him the dignity of their time is when they are voting for his opponent in the 2020 presidential election.

This article was published on Friday 03 March, 2017.
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