HCBUs And Their Flat “Trump” Learning Curve

 In Social Commentary

It appears that our historically Black colleges and universities have a flat learning curve when it comes to Mr. Trump. First, Trump appointed the public-school-hating Betsy Devos, to run the Department of Education. Next, in February, he posed with a room full of African American administrators of Black universities and colleges for a photo-op in the Oval Office, while promising them that they had his “unwavering support.”  These educated Black folks fell for it, hook, line and sinker. They just knew that Trump was going to come through for them with budgetary support. Trump lied.

On Friday, May 5, 2017, Trump signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill, and in what’s known as a “signing statement,” he suggested that he might disregard $20 million in funding for loan subsidies and other aid to historically Black universities. Trump wrote in his signing statement that the HBCU capital financing and school improvement funding contained in the spending bill will be allocated “in a manner consistent with the requirement to afford equal protection” under the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment. Translation: HBCUs may be discriminating against non-African American students, and if so, would not receive funding under the Trump administration’s interpretation of that amendment.

When the photo-op folks realized that Trump had bamboozled them, they were outraged. On Monday, May 8th, Trump trotted out his token Negro, Omarosa Manigault, who said in an interview, “I worked to make sure there was clarity because I observed that there was feedback and some were misconstruing the signing statement.” Translation: Trump got the photo-op; mission accomplished. So, if you all would calm down and behave, maybe Massa will throw you a few dollars.

Amazingly, none of these events stopped Edison Jackson, the President of Bethune-Cookman, a historically Black college in Dayton Beach, Florida, from having the Education Secretary as the commencement speaker on Wednesday, May 10th. President Edison even went so far as to confer on Ms. Historically-Black-Colleges-Are-Examples-Of-School-Choice Devos an honorary degree. Fortunately, the Bethune-Cookman’s students weren’t taking it. They appropriately booed and turned their backs on her.

And, there was President Hawkins of Talladega College in Alabama, who signed up the historically Black school’s marching band to parade for Trump at his inauguration festivities in January.

Nothing about this Trump era is normal. The administrators of our historically Black colleges and universities need to act accordingly. Stop conferring honorary degrees on his cronies; stop inviting his appointees to be your commencement speakers; and for God’s sake, stop posing for photo-ops with a man who denigrates Black America. You are better than this. Cease your groveling and instead, make sure that everyone one of your students is registered to vote. Stand up and show us that your Trump-learning curve is no longer a flat one.

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