Black ExperienceNational

West, Shabazz Debate State of Black Community Under Trump Presidency

Princeton University professor Cornel West said love within traditional and nontraditional families boosts the community.

Malik Zulu Shabazz, president of Black Lawyers for Justice in Greenbelt, said the black family needs a black man and woman to make it stronger.

But both agreed during a debate Tuesday at the National Press Club in northwest D.C. that the presidency of Donald Trump continues to harm America.

Malik Zulu Shabazz (left) and Princeton University professor Cornel West stand on stage during a town-hall style debate at the National Press Club in northwest D.C. on Feb. 21. (Travis Riddick/The Washington Informer)
Malik Zulu Shabazz (left) and Princeton University professor Cornel West stand on stage during a town-hall style debate at the National Press Club in northwest D.C. on Feb. 21. (Travis Riddick/The Washington Informer)

“Many in our community are in shock,” Shabazz said. “You got comfortable with President Barack Hussein Obama. You got no sleep with a black man in the White House. Now you have to look at ol’ ugly Donald Trump. We don’t just want to talk about his physical ugliness. We want to go to the ugliness of his policies.”

The theme of Tuesday’s town hall-style discussion focused on “Which way under President Trump? Resist? Revolt? Separate? Or compromise and start begging?”

Seven moderators each asked a question on how the black community can prosper in a Trump administration. The first topic: economics.

West, a prominent scholar who campaigned nationally for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) during last year’s Democratic presidential primary, said the country focuses on those in the top 1 percent in income bracket, support of big banks and funding the military for war.

Princeton University professor Cornel West speaks during a town-hall style debate against Malik Zulu Shabazz at the National Press Club in northwest D.C. on Feb. 21. (Travis Riddick/The Washington Informer)
Princeton University professor Cornel West speaks during a town-hall style debate against Malik Zulu Shabazz at the National Press Club in northwest D.C. on Feb. 21. (Travis Riddick/The Washington Informer)

“Trump is a deal-maker,” he said. “We need money for our children’s schools. We need money for decent housing.”

Shabazz, former leader of the National Black Panther Party, said blacks have $1.2 trillion in buying power, but must do better to invest that in the black community. He also mentioned how prominent blacks such as comedian and talk-show host Steve Harvey and hip-hop artist Kanye West didn’t need to visit Trump in New York City.

“Should we start begging Donald Trump?” he said. “Begging is not going to do it. We must have stores and grocery stores in our community … to start serving ourselves.”

Several hundred people in attendance heard and saw both men present viewpoints on gentrification and whether to start a revolution on a statewide or local level.

Though spirited, the affair was rather cordial, as the two hugged and shook hands at least four times.

Juwan Blocker, 18, a student member on the Prince George’s County School Board, said he learned you must advocate for others to make the community better.

“President Barack Obama got elected and everyone was so excited,” said Blocker, who graduates from Parkdale High School in Riverdale in June. “We couldn’t believe and see the first black president in America. Now that we have a bigot like Donald Trump in office, we are really starting to see the racism, the bigotry and the things in the past couple of years hasn’t been visible. To really make a difference, go vote.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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