It has been almost a month since Donald Trump’s surprising presidential victory, giving Americans some time to reflect on what his election means moving forward. Chaplain Chaz Howard shared his opinions on what the Republican’s win means for the black community and social justice movements in the next four years.
“It felt like people went into ‘survival mode’ rather than ‘dream and vision mode,’” Howard said, describing his experience with the black community in the weeks immediately following the election.
Howard said it is still uncertain what the effect on the black community will be following the election and he feels that there is still a feeling of shock over the transition from a black president to a president-elect who is perceived negatively within the majority of the black community.
“We went from a glorious day to a very dark night,” Howard said.
“I think it is frightening for many black Americans,” Howard said. “On the other hand, this won’t be the first president black Americans have to push back against.”
Howard added that Trump is not near the level of racism that was seen in past, such as President Woodrow Wilson, who actively pushed for segregation, or President Andrew Jackson, who was known for forcing Native Americans to leave their land and embark on the “Trail of Tears.”
Some have who were formerly against Trump have adopted the optimistic view to “give Trump a chance.”
“I do want Trump to succeed because if he fails, the country fails,” Howard added.
However, Howard points out that “you cannot normalize hate, you cannot give that a chance.” He believes that no matter one’s opinion of the president-elect, it is important to respect that he won the presidency.
CNN commentator Van Jones said on election night that Trump’s victory could be attributed to a “white-lash” — backlash by white racists against black civil rights advances. Howard believes that this may have contributed to some of Trump’s popularity but that the majority of his supporters probably voted for him for other reasons.
Howard also talked about the role that media played in determining the election. “It makes us think about the radical democratization of the news,” he said, referring to the existence of separate media outlets to represent liberal and conservative views. “One of the dangers of society is that we don’t talk to each other,” Howard said.
He touched upon how much of the news focused on scandal as opposed to policy and he believes that we need better candidates all around.
He mentioned that many of the younger undergraduate students he meets have interests in making real change and potentially holding political offices. However, he finds that many end up changing their minds by the time they graduate.
Howard ultimately hopes that after seeing this election, people are inspired to run for office.
“I hope we have another Penn president,” Howard said.