Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Looking Forward: In the Wake of the 2016 Presidential Election, Diverse Asked Five Scholars to Weigh in about the Election of Donald J. Trump

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Looking Forward: In the Wake of the 2016 Presidential Election, Diverse Asked Five Scholars to Weigh in about the Election of Donald J. Trump

Article excerpt

Dr. Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.

Chairman, Department of African American Studies, Princeton University

I was a panelist on Democracy Now on election night. And as I saw the writing on the wall, the words of James Baldwin came to mind: "America is like an exceedingly monstrous minstrel show; the same dances, same music, same jokes. One has done (or has been) the show so long that one can do it in one's own sleep." This--the fact that the country had elected an unethical bigot--was all so familiar, and yet, wholly unprecedented. My parents have been here before. What makes it different, for us and for them I suppose, is that we just experienced eight years of a Black man in the White House. Ironic, isn't it?

Trump represents, at least to me, the last gasp of White America. And we will find ourselves having to navigate its violent spasms. Demographics may not be destiny, but they damn sure suggest a fundamental change in some basic facts. We have some really difficult days ahead. And they will require a radical political imagination and a willingness to stand in the breach.

Dr. Khalilah Brown-Dean

Associate Professor of Political Science, Quinnipiac University

Since his 2008 election, Barack Obama has commuted more sentences of federal inmates than the past 11 presidents combined, reduced crack versus powder cocaine sentencing disparities, eliminated solitary confinement for juvenile offenders, and directed funding to community-based interventions to keep kids out of jails. Organizations like Just Leadership USA emerged to elevate the voices of the formerly incarcerated. Ava DuVernay's gripping documentary, 13th, exposed the depths of mass incarceration in a way that Orange is the New Black never could. Uprisings over police-involved murders in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Charlotte commanded the nation's attention. And in Congress, a budding bipartisan commitment to sentencing reform provided a glimmer of hope that the grassroots vision of improving the justice system was gaining traction. And then: Donald Trump won the presidency and announced that Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions is his pick for attorney general.

The federal government has traditionally been a source of redress for Black communities faced with indifference and hostility from their local and state governments. As we transition to the post-Obama era, it's imperative that scholars use their research to help Americans address and prepare for what may come, particularly as it relates to policing, the protection of civil rights and liberties, the expansion of private prisons, marijuana laws, and federal responses to police involved shootings. The officer who killed Walter Scott is facing a federal indictment, yet no trial date has been set. And in that same state, Dylann Roof faces the federal death penalty for murdering the Emanuel 9. All of these issues speak to the implications of Election 2016 that stretch beyond candidates and parties to directly shape the meaning of citizenship for communities of color across the United States.

Amos N. Jones

Associate Professor of Law, Campbell University

The most disheartening aspect of this election was the massive failure of scholars and journalists every where. They misunderstood and misrepresented large swaths of the electorate and therefore failed to project the likeliest result of this election, which a handful of us predicted in writing in both March and in early November, with little or no notice. Donald Trump wound up with a grand coalition, after all: twice as much Black support as Mitt Romney got in 2008, the majority of White women, 30 percent of Hispanics, and large swaths of mobilized, left-behind White voters--including White Appalachians across the South, who last expressed such confidence in politics when they voted in droves for the Rev. Jesse Jackson in 1984 and again in 1988. Virtually all of the so-called elites who got it wrong should resign, because they quite obviously don't know what they're talking about when it comes to the American electorate. …

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