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What exactly is a ‘Black job,’ Mr. Trump?



What exactly is a ‘Black job,’ Mr. Trump?

Clarence Page, syndicated columnist

“Black jobs”?

It’s a simple phrase, but what does it mean?

More specifically, what did it mean when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump insisted in his debate with President Joe Biden that migrants crossing the southern border are taking “Black jobs”?

Trump’s comments in a debate viewed by many, including me, as a disaster for Biden because of his halting presentation came in what turned out to be the debate’s only reference to Black employment. It surfaced when CNN moderator Dana Bash asked Biden about what he had done for Black voters. Trump retorted with a jab at one of his signature issues, Biden’s record on the border.

Referencing the migrants entering the country through the southern border, Trump said, “They’re taking Black jobs now — and it could be 18, it could be 19 and even 20 million people. They’re taking Black jobs, and they’re taking Hispanic jobs, and you haven’t seen it yet, but you’re gonna see something that’s going to be the worst in our history.”

Got that? Trump did not mention how House Republicans walked away from a long-needed, long-sought bipartisan bill to overhaul immigration policy. Credit three senators — Oklahoma Republican James Lankford, Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy and Arizona independent Kyrsten Sinema — with crafting the bill passed in the Senate early this year.

Unfortunately, House Republicans torpedoed the measure at the urging of — guess who? — Trump, who apparently prefers to campaign on the immigration issue rather than take a big step to help solve it.

So, in a ham-handed effort to turn immigration into a one-size-fits-all issue during the debate, Trump tried to make border reform into a “Black jobs” and “Hispanic jobs” program, ironically at a time when the Supreme Court has invalidated race-conscious employment and college admissions programs.

Awkward. Social media, particularly the sprawling online community widely known as “Black Twitter,” was not letting him off that easily.

“What exactly are Black and Hispanic Jobs!?!” the NAACP posted to the platform X, formerly Twitter.

Michael Steele, co-host of MSNBC’s “The Weekend” and first Black chairman of the Republican National Committee, played a clip of Trump’s answer and asked rhetorically in a tweet, “So what precisely, what jobs would those Black and Hispanic jobs be, I wonder?”

Hmm. Yes, puzzling.

“I guess they’re all what? CEOs and former lawyers, former RNC chairs,” Steele mused. “What Black jobs are you talking about Mr. Trump?”

Less amused in a TMZ interview was Omarosa Manigault Newman. Remember her? She followed Trump from his reality television show “The Apprentice” to his presidential campaign and then the White House.

“What is a Black job?” she said. “I don’t know where he got that from unless he’s taking it all the way back to slavery because you know the only 100% Black job in this country was back during slavery time.”

According to a recent analysis by the Council of Economic Advisers a “Black job” describes all sorts of jobs. The council found the share of Black workers in higher-paying white-collar industries such as information, financial activities, and professional and business services grew between 2019 and 2023, according to The Washington Post. Meanwhile, Black workers’ presence in lower-wage sectors such as leisure and hospitality and retail decreased in that period.

But then there’s spin. “Real wages for Black Americans are now lower than they were under President Trump by 3.6 percent,” Janiyah Thomas, Trump’s Black media director, told The Hill. “No matter the amount of lies the Biden-Harris campaign tries to spin, Black Americans know that the bottom line is that financially we were better off under President Trump.”

We’ll see. Not surprisingly, former Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, Biden-Harris 2024 co-chair, said just as confidently that Black voters will reject Trump come November in part because of the former president’s rhetoric.

“Donald Trump thinks so little of Black people that he can’t help but to keep saying the quiet part out loud: He thinks only certain jobs are ‘Black jobs,’” Richmond said in a statement.

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