DETROIT – Portia Roberson recalls previous eras when US President Donald Trump refused to completely condemn whites and asked his supporters to monitor polling stations, threatening black Americans from voting during this week’s presidential debate.
Roberson, a 51 – year – old black woman living in Detroit, cools the comments – but also has a new will to vote.
For many black Americans and people of other races, Trump’s remarks during a debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden have not yet fully caught up with the systemic racism borne out this year by protests against black police killings. The pandemic, and the resulting economic collapse.
But they also call for action.
“I hope it takes away some of the frustration, anger and sadness we all experience in 2020, and use it to motivate us to go to the polls and make sure we really vote for candidates and reflect on what blacks need in this country,” said Robertson, CEO of Hope’s Detroit. .
Experts and activists say Trump tried to reverse his debates on Wednesday, but the moment he told a right-wing group to “stand back” had already settled in the minds of many Americans. A day after the debate, the president said he was unaware of the group, but said “let law enforcement do their job.”
During the debate, he urged his “supporters to go to the polls and watch very carefully, because the same must happen.”
Eric Sheffield, a black real estate developer in Atlanta, whose parents come from the Deep South, said Trump’s comments were reminiscent of the Jim Crowe era.
“I heard the ghost of voter oppressors,” Sheffield, 52, said. “It’s the same soup. It’s just warmed up.”
It was not just black Americans who took notice at the president’s debating remarks. Anna Mack, a biracial Filipino American woman who is a Masters student at the University of Denver, said similar concerns are echoed among Americans from other backgrounds.
“I’m bored and angry with those comments,” said Mack, 22. “But I’m not surprised.”
Since the coronavirus, which was first lit in China, spread to the United States, Mack said, hatred towards Asian Americans has increased. Trump himself has been criticized for calling COVID-19 a “Chinese virus”.
“I fear there will be more hate crimes from white supremacists,” she said.
On Thursday, when asked for a definite statement on whether the president was condemning white supremacy, White House Press Secretary Kylie McNani said the day before: “I always condemn any form.”
Some organizations are working to turn the fears caused by Trump’s remarks into votes.
The New Georgia project seeks to encourage approximately 600,000 black, Latino, Asian American and young voters to vote in November, said CEO Nsie Ufot. She said 90,000 black voters living in Georgia’s “rural black belt” did not vote in 2016 and that they were trying to reach out too.
“The debate is not about conveying his (Trump) vision for America,” Ufot said. “It’s about making it so nasty and awful and disgusting and encouraging people to get out of this process, and we’m not going to let that happen.”
Dr. Elwin Zheng, a professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, helped establish Asian Americans against Trump by funding digital and print advertising in Asian language media organizations in the war-torn states.
Zheng hopes that young Asian Americans who do not support Trump will talk to relatives about their ideas and that some will change their minds.
“In many areas … immigrants see their children thinking about what they think and what is happening in America,” Zheng said.
Trump’s remarks – and his record on race – may have upset many Americans, especially for some blacks, as they provoke a dark history.
The 75-year-old Rev. was involved in voter rights work in Alabama during the 1960s, including registration drives and the Selma-to-Montgomery March. Wendell H. This rhetoric hinted at the memories and voter intimidation tactics of Southern separatists for Paris.
“It’s a coded language whenever you hear me say ‘peace,'” Paris said. “We go back to the racial conditions of the 1950s and 1960s.”
Even after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 provided greater protection, white assistants in Paris uniforms were reminded of the way black voters often appear on voting premises in black areas – which has a frightening effect on their history of racist abuse.
Because of that history, Vincent Hutchings, a professor of political science at the University of Michigan, said he believes Trump’s comments are provoking legitimate concerns that he could cause trouble on polling sites, especially in black communities.
“What kind of things indicate violations or scams?” Asked Hutchings. “It’s very dirty, and as a consequence, people have to exercise their own discretion, and when that happens, all bets are turned off, so it’s definitely dangerous.”
Cynthia Bell, a Chicago resident, said the debate “broke my heart” and decided to vote because she was worried about threats in the election.
“How is this possible in this day and age?” She asked Bell, who runs a senior center in a mostly black community. “What have we got?”
Reeves reported from East Greenwich on Rhode Island to Birmingham, Alabama and Fernando. Associated Press writers Aaron Morrison of New York, Terry Tang of Phoenix and Tommy Weber of Oak Park, Illinois. Stafford, Reeves, Fernando, Morrison and Tang are members of The Associated Press’ Race and Ethnicity