Sometimes I get stopped in the street by people who want to ask me stuff. That’s because sometimes I do TV and, if people see you on television, they develop a kind of familiarity with you.
It isn’t hostile, or aggressive. It’s just that they feel that they know you, can talk to you, maybe even continue the conversation that they have with you over the Tube.
I don’t know, since I don’t watch much television, so I don’t know that feeling.
And, since I also live in the West End of London, I run into a lot of people. I can always tell if somebody’s going to say something. They make furtive eye contact as they pass you by, then they turn around and start talking as if they had been talking with you all day.
So the other day this guy crossed a busy Oxford Street to ask me point blank why I thought that black people liked and voted for Trump.
I wanted to ask him: “Why not?” But that would have been a phony, rhetorical type of reply because I have that question, too.
After all, Trump was a leader of the birther movement, that cohort that said that President Obama had not been born in the United States, which if true would have made him ineligible to be president. Trump even said
once that he had Obama’s foreign birth certificate which, of course,
he never produced. But that was not the point. Facts, truth, are not his schtick. Rumour, doubt, rage is what he trades in.
To the guy who stopped me in the street, I answered as best I could. “Because they like him,” I said.
And that is the answer.
I remember during the presidential campaign of 2016 when Hillary Clinton was the Democratic Party candidate, how many African American guys said “no!” and some went for Trump and urged others to do so. There is a big myth that women turned out for Hillary. In fact, if women had turned out in the numbers that we mythologise, she would have won.
I watch the people behind him at his rallies, clad in the “Blacks For Trump” T-shirts. But I say to myself that Trump is a card-carrying racist and has the bona fides to prove it.
The Feds came for him and his father in the 1970s for housing discrimination. He advocated for the return of the death penalty in the case of the young black guys wrongly accused and convicted of rape in Central Park at the end of the 1980s. Even when these guys were exonerated, and had reparations paid to them by the state, The Donald never let up.
His disdain for black women is well-known. The way that he went after congresswoman Maxine Waters was an abomination. He uses a pejorative term for Chinese Americans in reference to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chow, a former member of Trump’s cabinet, who quit after the January 6 insurrection.
Trump came down that escalator at his first presidential run calling Latinos “rapists and murderers”. Yet these demographics are his highest-rising GOP supporters. Why is this?
First of all, it’s the economy, stupid. Business for minority communities was steadier. People were making money. This was pre-pandemic but, nevertheless, they were, for many in these small business communities, good times. For many GOP people, the economy comes first and many minority business owners saw their profits get bigger.
Partly, for Republican Party ethnic minority people, it is the Democrats in general, and the left of the party in particular, that simply do not reflect them. And stats show that they are moving right.
I have conservative, second amendment evangelicals in my own family. They keep guns and swear by the necessity of having them. We argue all of the time. What they tell me is that they are tired of crime; that they like the status quo regarding gender and they are Christian.
They are Obama people, too, so Trump himself doesn’t work for them. But they get it. And they know plenty of MAGA people.
Some members of the Chinese American community in San Francisco have stated that they want no part of progressive politics because it has not stopped crime. And crime is what concerns them.
Ron DeSantis won a landslide in the Florida gubernatorial race partly because, for many Latino voters, the word “socialism” coming from parts of the left is not a good message. All that they can think of is Cuba and Venezuela, from which many had fled. A no-no.
Trump fits their bill, too.
And BLM, while important, for many black Republicans was DOA when “defund the police” became part of it. That’s true, too, for some moderate and conservative Democrats of colour. Which is why Joe Biden downplayed it during his presidential campaign.
Plus, there is a hidden factor about Trump that appeals to men across all ethnicities: he performs a type of masculinity. He is the unabashed macho man. In fact, his supporters played the Village People’s Macho Man at his rallies. Not realising, of course, that the song is a send-up about gay West Village life in NYC.
No matter, Trump is the guy unafraid to confront women and gays and all of the other parts of the modern world that leave so many guys in the wilderness: angry, bewildered and a little afraid.
Trump performs masculinity effortlessly, providing a conduit for what is considered no longer acceptable. Women’s liberation; transgender rights – bagatelles from another world that MAGA Republicanism, led by their own Dear Leader, rejects.
One Trump supporter of colour said on TV recently that it is all very simple. For example, she, as a woman of African descent, can look at all those comedies of the 1930s knowing that, in the real world, none of the stars that she loved would have had any time for her, a black woman.
That in their world, she would not have belonged.
Yet she can enjoy these films, even project herself into them.
I suppose the fact that ethnic minority Republicans are Trump’s fastest-growing supporters boils down to the fact that we humans are not categories.