- The open hatred for people like us which I see on social media, from the mouths of mass killers and at times from the conduct of Mr Trump while not surprising is truly shocking.
- Mr Trump’s dislike for former President Barack Obama, the way he treats black journalists and his disgust at the very idea of allowing in migrants would tend to suggest that black folk are not exactly his favourites.
- When racists ran amok in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, Mr Trump’s unwillingness to completely condemn them was a revealing moment.
When I applied for visas for a couple of visits to Europe recently, one country issued on the second try. And the visa was delayed well past the declared date of travel, though I was still able to visit and attend to business.
Granted, my first application had errors but I didn’t think they were incurable ones given that I am too old to go pick tomatoes in a foreign country. For a moment, I thought I have probably made too many folks unhappy, shooting off my mouth.
So I have recently been gingerly navigating this whole question of President Donald Trump and the America he is creating. I suppose Mr Trump’s vision of America — white, wealthy, dominant, isolated and unaccountable — is as valid as any. I mean, I watched on TV on Wednesday a story about a group of mercenaries that Vladimir Putin, the Russian ruler, has deployed in Africa, Syria, Ukraine and other parts of the world to undermine America and help him rebuild the power of the former USSR.
And it is not as if the US is a land of angels. It has done things in its own interest, including the alleged murder of African nationalists such as Patrice Lumumba, blowing up many parts of Iraq and its invasion of other countries, which are, to say the least, indefensible. And internally, America is a confusing country to many Africans. First, it is a truly and massively wealthy country. You see it everywhere, in the smallest hamlet. Yet many of the people you meet are desperately poor, always on the verge of financial catastrophe.
Some American families, especially African migrants, have to be separated. Mum works miles away and is home only at the weekend.
It is the land of the free, devoted to freedom in its various forms. Yet, America is a strongly governed country with an intrusive state. Away from New York and Los Angeles, I found America intimidating and its police truly frightening. If you are a black person, especially if you are a poor, African migrant, you just read about freedom on the internet. Because even walking into a Walmart in Jersey is an experience — the attention you attract from the security staff and the detailed examination of your credit card by the sales staff — does not leave you feeling like a bird.
Yet, America is an inspiration for many around the world. The story of European migrants, oppressed by brutal feudal societies and the powerful home they created for themselves and those they left behind is truly an example of visionary leadership, community, strength of character and the good values of hard work and individual freedom.
If Americans have a fault, it is that deep in their heart of hearts, they have never really believed that other peoples have a right to the freedoms that Americans claim for themselves or that their story has a place alongside America’s. This is not to say they haven’t sincerely and honestly tried, they have. In their good moments, Americans have shown extraordinary generosity and courage on behalf of others.