Last week, at a Town Hall in Philadelphia, I asked President Donald Trump a question that stopped him in his tracks. Specifically, I asked him — since his popular campaign promises to “Make America Great Again” — when exactly America has ever been great for the Black community.
This question echoes through the corridors of our institutions, the classrooms where our children are taught, the neighborhoods where our people are struggling to survive, and during the everyday challenges that we face. So when I was told that I could ask our president a question, it didn’t take much deep consideration. Black people have wanted an answer to it for a long time — and so far, Trump hasn’t provided us any answers.
President Trump told me at that Town Hall that there is no “race problem”. He said America was great for African Americans six months ago, just before the pandemic. From where I’m standing, that narrative is simply not true. In fact, Covid-19 has proven is just how absent this professed greatness actually is within our urban communities.
Over the last nine years, I have been privileged to hear the stories and understand the heartaches of the African American community in this nation. In urban areas especially, they have been victimized by oppressive systems which constantly work against them. From issues of red-lining, income inequality, underfunded education, gun violence and violent crime, homelessness, disparities in access to quality healthcare, misguided youth, and mass incarceration, Black people in America are struggling — and they have been struggling for a long time. There are too many systems in place in our country which perpetuate discrimination against people based on both their class and their color.
For the average Black American, America has never been “great”. My challenge to the President was to look with clear vision at the current status of our community and notice how both his and previous administrations have failed to permanently end these cycles. Statistics about decreasing unemployment rates, while noteworthy, do not solve the issues that everyday Black Americans face today. Jobs of any description and any condition are not a “quick fix” for racism.
Amongst my community in Philadelphia, I am Carl Day, founder of Culture Changing Christians and the Pastor of the H.O.O.D. The “H.O.O.D” acronym stands for the place where the Hopeless Oppressed Outcasts Dwell. This sad title should speak for itself.
The Covid-19 pandemic deepened inequalities in American society, and has made it more obvious than ever that the American dream is inaccessible for too many who live here. Now, the leader of the free world is telling us that he wants to make our country “great” and is therefore tasked with presenting us a plan to alleviate these conditions. Why is he failing to do that?
As a man of faith and a leader in my community, I too am charged with ensuring that none are left hopeless, oppressed, or outcast regardless of where they may dwell. It is a necessary part of my service to my community to provide tangible solutions and real-life actions when faced with their issues. It should not be a problem to ask that the politicians in charge of this country feel the same sense of responsibility.