The Talladega College Marching Tornadoes Marching Band, for weeks the center of clashing dialog about race, politics and patriotism, will march in the inaugural parade for controversial President Elect Donald Trump, as confirmed by school president Billy Hawkins in a letter issued yesterday.
Hours after the announcement, the Associated Press reported that Talladega College Board Chairman Harry Coaxum purchased a $900,000 condominium in a Chicago-based Trump International Hotel & Tower two years ago, and is a neighbor of Olivet Nazarene University President John C. Bolling, who a year later purchased a $2 million condo at the property.
And now it all comes together.
This invitation was never about Talladega selling out, or its administration going out of its way to malign the school with negative publicity. This is about a time-honored tradition even older than American democracy; money talking, and everyone else without money being mad about it.
No one should take issue with Trump’s transition team extending an global platform like the inaugural parade to people whom have helped make the president-elect rich; we know for a fact that the same would’ve happened under the watch of a president-elect Hillary Clinton, and we know that the the same has happened with Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and every president in the modern era of American governance.
We shouldnt’ be concerned about a betrayal of racial or cultural politics, because the truth is that we look past potential racial flashpoints all of the time for those moments and monies which stand to benefit us. The CIAA is staying in Charlotte because of money. HBCUs nationwide take sponsorships from Wells Fargo because of money. Millions of black folks nationwide still happily spend money at Cracker Barrel.
But if there is anything black folks and HBCU advocates should be upset about, it is that Talladega is just the latest on a growing list of Trump’s insistence on giving black folks second-class status in his presidential enterprise. Ben Carson, a world-renowned neurosurgeon is in charge of running the federal department of Housing and Urban Development.
Trump’s emerging legacy with black people he likes and trusts is to give them less than what they are professional capable of handling in benefit to the nation, and more of the headaches associated with blending their names in with Trump’s mixed signals about Black America. It’s not only that black people generally view black Trump associates as cultural sellouts and conductors on the coon train, it is that he isn’t wise enough or doesn’t care enough to even elevate them to a place where black and white people can respect their alliance for a reasonable professional outcome.
Carson, by most projections, isn’t likely to transform the way the nation thinks about housing and urban development, and Manigault likely won’t go down in history as one of the great political communicators of all time; likely, because Trump won’t let them.
And the Tornadoes Marching Band won’t steal America’s hearts, because of all the people who might choose to attend or to watch the parade, their perspectives will fall into one of two very distinct boxes.
“At least some black people have respect for America,” or “the coon train has arrived in Washington D.C.”
Neither of these perspectives are correct, complete or helpful, but they are real and very understandable. Just like Trump’s presidency and Talladega’s appearance in his parade are very much the same, regardless of how it came about or how much it adds to disappointing narratives about black people in America’s alt-right era.