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Trump and the MAGA movement are making a mockery of Black Republicans

The racism from Trump and MAGA supporters is undermining key arguments Black right-wingers have used to justify their alignment with the conservative movement.


The MAGA movement is making a mockery of Black Republicans.

At an event for Black conservatives in South Carolina last weekend, Trump gave a widely publicized speech in which he claimed that Black people like him now because they see his multiple criminal indictments and mug shot as akin to the discrimination Black people face in the legal system. Apart from the very weird racism of those remarks, they caught my interest for another reason: the way they undermine long-standing tenets of many Black conservatives’ ideology. 

I would argue Black conservatism is defined by adherence to any or all of the following:

  • Black conservatives like writer Shelby Steele have denounced the so-called victim mentality among Black folks, specifically reprimanding them for not taking personal responsibility when it comes to personal outcomes.
  • Black conservatives (like Bill Cosby) are fixated on what they see as vanity when it comes to fashion, in particular Black people’s alleged obsession with sneakers. As you may remember, Cosby’s infamous “Pound Cake” speech — a perfect distillation of the Black conservative psyche — scolded Black parents for purportedly buying their children “$500 sneakers” rather than “Hooked on Phonics.”
  • And Black conservatives tend to emphasize philanthropy, rather than government interventions, as a means for Black community uplift.

It’s been somewhat comical to see the MAGA movement decimate these talking points.

Trump, for example, leaned into the victim mentality stuff with his claim that Black people are flocking to him because they like his mug shot and relate to the alleged “discrimination” against him by law enforcement.

That MAGA enthusiasts think Trump’s overpriced gold sneakers will help him win Black voters implies those voters are materialistic rubes who can be seduced with shiny, overpriced shoes. The Trump campaign is simply leaning into the gaudy consumerism that many Black conservatives claim to reject.

Black conservatives over the years have emphasized private giving over government “handouts” as a means to help Black people. Yet the MAGA movement continues to wage a legal war that threatens to make that kind of giving more difficult. The Stephen Miller-backed affirmative action lawsuit against an organization known as the “Fearless Fund,” which has given grants to businesses majority-owned by Black women, is a direct shot at the philanthropic investment that Black Republicans prefer to government programs. 

This has been the backdrop against which I’ve watched Black conservatives fall over themselves while attempting to downplay Trump’s racist remarks. Their desperation is understandable: With each passing day, Trump and the MAGA movement are discarding each of the principles Black Republicans have cited as the basis for their allegiance to the GOP.

And when you strip away those principles, all that’s left is Trump’s cult of personality.