Make America Great Again

"Make America Great Again" is a campaign slogan used in American politics that Donald Trump adopted in his 2016 presidential campaign.  Does "Make America Great Again" symbolize a return to an age when wages were higher and jobs more secure; or was it coded racial language designed to signal rollback to a time when blacks were barred opportunities by laws and tradition?

When America was at its greatest, entrenched Jim Crow laws reigned.  The Greatest Generation of blacks endured economic exclusion when across the board; whites were getting an institutional leg up to improve their socio-economic status and positions.   In mainstream phrasing the “Greatest Generation” is the generation that that grew up during the Great Depression and went on to fight in World War II.  America became “great” in the 1930s and 40s when balanced precariously between the darkness of the Great Depression on one side and the storms of war in Europe and the Pacific on the other.  For Blacks the time and tenure of the Greatest Generation were flawed.  Many, if not most of them, were racists who supported Jim Crow. Millions of whites benefited from the G.I. Bill and VA/FHA housing programs while black and brown veterans were denied those same benefits.  

Donald J. Trump is the personification of white privilege whites pass from one generation to the next.   Back when “America was great” Donald Trump’s father built an empire building.  Much of Fred Trump’s wealth was accumulated through federal housing programs.  As President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in the 1930s, Mr. Trump made use of its loan subsidies.  Under FHA programs, Trump senior built an enormous real estate empire on a FHA foundation that included state and federal loan subsidies.   During this period, the greatest generation moved in mass to large “Levittown” developments in suburbia created by William Levitt.  Levittowns were built for returning World War II veterans but required by FHA lenders to be limited to “those of the Caucasian race". 

Black Americans have to get pass partisan politics and see the institutional racism both major parties effect when it comes to us.  The true underlying theme is: “Let’s make whites great again.”  The 1944 GI Bill legislation helped returning veterans go to college and buy homes in the great postwar suburban land rush.  Returning white World War II veterans spurred a population and housing boom driven in part by benefits from the GI bill.  Black veterans weren't able to make use of the housing provisions of the GI Bill.  Banks wouldn't make loans for blacks’ mortgages as we were excluded from the suburban living by deed covenants. 

Racism is basic and rudimentary in America.   It’s a historical fact that the G.I. Bill helped millions of white World War II veterans adjust to civilian life with benefits that included low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans and financial support.  African Americans did not benefit as European Americans and are owed benefits that enriched “the Greatest Generation.”  In some Northern cities during the Depression whites called for blacks to be fired from any jobs as long as whites were out of work.  During the time the Greatest Generation was at its apex, blacks were regulated to “second-class” lives.  Does making America great again, mean Americans flashing back to widespread discrimination and segregation, and hundreds of thousands of African Americans loosing property through fragrant and deceptive foreclosure practices?

When are blacks going to admit that not only are we in a political chasm with Trump, but with the majority of Americans.  Blacks singularly face institutional racism; and need to get beyond protest activities on to substantive laws and legislation.  Black Americans are owed benefits of the G.I. bill that helped foster a long-term boom in white wealth during the 1940s, 50s and 60s.  Blacks are still living with the effects of that institutional exclusion.  Blacks need proper payment of debts of “the Greatest Generation,” but for centuries of barbaric brutality, humiliation and derogation.  Let’s stop whining and make the issue of slave and post-slavery reparations be addressed politically now.  Call your Congressional representative via (202) 224-3121 demanding proper recompense!

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Marlon Richards
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