Birther Movement Reborn
By Todd A. Smith
“Grasping at straws,” is how one Regal Magazine reader described the birther movement, which is determined to prove that President Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya and not Hawaii as his birth certificate proves.
Despite the fact that officials have verified President Obama’s birth certificate, billionaire Donald Trump has reignited the birther movement by stating that the president needs to prove to him that he is a natural born United States citizen.
“He needs to stop saying that racist bulls**t birther s**t. Quote me please,” said R&B singer John Legend. Furthermore, Legend is not the only public figure labeling Trump and the entire birther movement as racist. Legendary comedian Bill Cosby and members of the National Black Church Initiative have also blasted Trump for his claims, labeling it as a ploy to fire up the Republican base as he contemplates a run for the Oval Office.
Regardless of how one feels about the president and his policy, the feelings of racial unity and peace that many thought would occur after President Obama’s historic election are quickly giving way to the same racist rhetoric that has kept Americans divided for centuries.
America claims to be a land where all, with hard work and dedication, can make something of themselves and their lives. Immigrants come to this land because they believe in the creed that “all men are created equal” and in America they will be given an equal chance to succeed.
Nevertheless, many in the birther movement see the progress of other demographic groups as proof of their regression and they are determined to erase that progress from American history books and “take back” their country. What they do not understand, is that their racist rhetoric will only drive our nation further away from what it stands for, and that is equality for all, despite the color of someone’s skin.
“I strongly feel that Donald Trump is using race to further a divisive agenda. An agenda that has no place in modern American political culture,” explained Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the National Black Church Initiative.
It is ironic that Trump is showing his distaste for African Americans in political culture, but is perfectly OK with exploiting African Americans in pop culture in exchange for high ratings on his hit show “The Celebrity Apprentice.” He, like others in the birther movement, cannot stand to see a Black face in the White House but he will tolerate the likes of talk show host Star Jones, musicians Dionne Warwick, LaToya Jackson, Lil Jon and reality star NeNe Leakes in the boardroom since it is bringing him large revenue from advertisers.
Trump’s mentality is indicative of the mentality of many racists in past generations who were perfectly fine with being entertained or served by African Americans but could not tolerate African Americans in positions of power or have them on the same level with them.
During the Harlem Renaissance, African American entertainers would perform for all White fans at legendary venues like the Cotton Club, but African American fans were not allowed in the audience. Allowing African Americans to sit alongside White customers would imply equal status amongst the races.
The thought of an African American with higher status would make other generations turn over in their grave. Unfortunately, because of the words of Trump, the birther movement has once again risen from the grave and our political system is worse off for it.
It is time for all Americans, liberal or conservative, to begin grasping at the real issues that are affecting Americans and our friends across the globe, and those will never be issues that birth divisiveness and hate.
Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.
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