On September 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln issued an executive order, entitled the “Emancipation Proclamation” which declared that slaves “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
What is freedom? According to Oxford dictionaries, freedom means
– the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
– the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
More than 150 years later, African Americans are still protesting, marching, boycotting, and facing challenges as they decry racial injustice.
So, why did Kayne West meeting at the White House with President Trump stir debate regarding the freedom of thought and political association?
Blacks and the Republican Party
Many liberals and moderates deemed Kanye West to be a “token” because he forged an alliance with a republican president, but history dictates that Abraham Lincoln was a member of the new Republican Party/GOP [Grand Old Party].
In fact, the Republican party was a group of men who worked toward abolishing slavery. Until 1906, blacks in America were die-hard republicans. Then, W.E.B. Du Bois, the editor of the Crisis newspaper and member of the N.A.A.C.P, swayed blacks to abandon their support of the Republican Party. His decision was based upon his belief that Republicans Roosevelt and William Howard Taft had failed to meet the needs of black people. This thought was premised, in part, on a local/statewide event in Atlanta, Georgia – The riots.
Nevertheless, the democratic party did not embrace black voters until the 1924 convention. So, contrary to most reports, black republicans are not a new phenomenon, and they are not “token” negroes.
In fact, republicans garnered black voters through the 1960s and beyond. Consider these facts, blacks supported republican candidates in the presidential elections of Dwight D. Eisenhower at 39 percent in 1956. Although defeated by John. F. Kennedy in the 1960 elections, Richard Nixon received 32 percent of the black vote. In 1983, a Republican, former President Ronald Reagan signed legislation making Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a national holiday.
The Trump Card
Trump card – a playing card in the suit that has been declared trumps; “the ace of trumps is a sure winner.”
President Trump’s meeting with businessman and music mogul Kanye West aimed to discuss the state of Black America. Many liberals touted that the visit was a ploy by President Trump to boost ratings amongst millennial blacks and those influenced by the Kardashians’ and West
s effect upon pop culture.
It is so unfortunate that black Americans have fought to attain freedom and autonomy in America yet are denied the freedom to choose their own political associations and engage in free thought.
When President Obama invited “The Carters” [Jay-Z and Beyoncé] to the White House, the media embraced the visit. So, why is everyone disappointed with Kanye West?
Well, his wife is a household name. Kim Kardashian-West has used her influence to seek prison reform and release of “Alice Johnson” during a meeting with President Trump. Johnson was subjected to a mandatory prison term for a non-violent drug offense. West met with President Trump to discuss how industry, manufacturing jobs, and prison reform can reshape black America and benefit all of America.
While there are many who think that the work of Kanye and Kim is insufficient when weighed against the totality of the plights of blacks in America, people fail to weigh that the meetings are a step in the right direction.
Their agenda began with seeking the support of President Trump.
Like Lincoln, President Trump is vested with authority to issue executive orders. Lincoln issued the Proclamation. Trump can also issue an executive order that can change the lives of black people in America. As a businessman, President Trump can continue to work toward economic stability by proposing tax cuts and credits to stimulate job growth. He can work towards dismantling the privatization of the prison industrial complex, abolishing three-strikes legislation, and ensuring the practicability and applicability of Every Student Succeeds Act [ESSA].
Blacks in America should not be condemned or attacked for exercising their freedom of political association. After all, black people fought and continue to fight for the freedom to think, act and speak. Doing so means that we can respectfully agree to disagree with the acts, thoughts, and words of others, but we should not berate Kanye for exercising his freedom.