It sure was fun to drag that picture of Kelly Anne Conway in the Oval Office with her shoes off and feet on the couch playing on her phone, all in front of 64 leaders of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. I don’t think there is a better depiction of America than a sea of hard working, underserved people of color, yet the focus of the attention is on an oblivious white person. The only way it could be more American is if she accused one of them of committing a crime.
Detractors say this is much ado about nothing, and it is. However, those same detractors refuse to acknowledge the raging angrections™ they got when a picture of Barack Obama was released when he had his feet on the desk, or when he decided to take off his suit jacket, or when he took off his tie. Every president in the last 40 years has a picture of himself doing something casual in the Oval office, from kicking back to playing with a football to playing with kids and/or pets. Yet it’s not okay for the black president to do what people do in offices.
I hate to be the “ALL OF THIS IS A DISTRACTION FROM” guy, but while Conway was doing her best to show you how critical optics can be, Betsy DeVos put out a statement regarding the HBCU leader visit. She praised their hard work and called HBCUs the “real pioneers of school choice”. THAT deserved a drag more than the picture of Couchgate. We have a head of the Department of Education who thinks that black people got up one day and said, “Hey, let’s build some schools! It’ll be fun! Yay, choices!” What shit education did she receive that she would think that? HBCUs came about because NO SCHOOL WOULD ACCEPT BLACK PEOPLE. We had no choice BUT to make out own way. Segregation is not “school choice”. The dumbfuckery of such a notion leaves a foul taste in my mouth. DeVos then backpedaled by pointing out that she has a poor black friend, and then talking about Mary McLeod-Bethune founded Bethune-Cookman University because of “school choice”, so she learned nothing after the Internet dragged the shit out of her dumbass initial statement.
Again, I hate to be the “ALL OF THIS IS A DISTRACTION FROM” guy, but while Conway and DeVos were doing incredibly dumb white people stuff, 45 signed an executive order that would take public HBCUs out of the jurisdiction of the Department of Education and directly under the White House Domestic Policy. Does this mean they’ll get the funding they’ve been asking for since my Morgan days? No. Does it increase money for Pell Grants and Federal Direct Student Loans, which were lifelines to me and many poor black kids who wanted to go to college but just did not have the money to do so? No. It actually doesn’t do much more than give HBCU leaders greater access to the Office of the President…so 45 just signed an executive order to give him more black friends.
This order doesn’t do much that an Obama-era order in 2009 did beyond calling for an increase in the private sector to have a role in HBCUs. There is no telling what this order will affect, but if it is giving no funding to the schools and it is not making it more accessible economically to the students, then I am observing skeptically. This looks like a publicized overture to make him look like he’s “reaching out” to the black community with little substance, complete with two clueless blondes. This is the plot to 15% of PornHub searches.
If 45 REALLY wants to reach out to and mend the divide between him and people of color, he should start by acknowledging he did wrong. He can apologize to the Central Park Five for his statements about them before and after their exoneration, he can admit that his company did wrong in the 1980s when they blocked black tenants from living in his properties. He can apologize to Barack Obama for hounding him about his birth certificate years after the non-issue was put to rest, and stop blaming Hillary Clinton for the whole thing. He can hold a 60 minute conversation with a room full of black people and NOT make any mention of crime, poverty, Chicago, or the word “urban”. If he does all of these things, I’ll take this overture to HBCUs seriously and without skepticism. As of now, it looks like a guy who fucked up and forgot his girlfriend’s birthday, and instead of apologizing, he just ordered last minute roses and chocolates and thought it would smooth things over.