(CNN)There might be people of color at the Republican National Convention. But that doesn’t mean that the event is really about them or their experiences.
This disconnect is apparent even in the way President Donald Trump has said almost nothing about the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, but has urged the National Guard to end the protests there “FAST.”On the first two nights of the convention, Republicans gave a big platform to a diverse lineup of speakers, including former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott, also of South Carolina.On Tuesday, Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer credited Trump for including $8 billion — “the largest financial funding package ever to Indian Country” — in the CARES Act. Trump pardoned Jon Ponder, a convicted felon and the CEO of Hope for Prisoners, Inc., who in a video thanked the President for going “out of his way” to support former prisoners who are rejoining society. Read MoreKentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron aimed his arrows at Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s recent controversial remarks (subsequently walked back) that painted Black Americans as a monolithic community.”Mr. Vice President, look at me. I am Black,” Cameron said on Tuesday. “We are not all the same, sir. I am not in chains. My mind is my own, and you can’t tell me how to vote because of the color of my skin.”And in a video that muddied the lines between official White House business and Trump’s political aspirations, the President oversaw a naturalization ceremony featuring a diverse group of candidates.Read more from Brandon Tensley:
Why Kamala Harris’ shoutouts to AKAs and HBCUs matter so muchWelcome to our reality, White AmericaAhmaud Arbery and the resilience of Black protestInequality is a stain everywhere, even in sportsThe racial politics of gun controlHow Trump speaks to Black Americans says a lot about his vision for the country
Yet all this attention seemed less about engaging voters of color than humanizing Trump and soothing his largely White supporters, who might want to back him without feeling like they’re abetting bigotry.Consider the wider setting of the convention. Despite Lizer’s praise of Trump, tribal leaders have said that payments have been delayed and that the Trump administration initially opposed and low-balled the stimulus funding.Trump won only 8% of votes cast by Black Americans in 2016. His standing among this demographic (in particular) remains low.Meanwhile, the President has been criticized for his handling of the Black Lives Matter protests that have occurred across the country since Minneapolis police killed George Floyd in May.Just last month, Trump called Black Lives Matter a “symbol of hate” — a striking choice of words, considering how dramatically public opinion has shifted on the movement.And as my CNN colleagues Priscilla Alvarez and Catherine E. Shoichet explained in July, this summer has seen an unprecedented throttling of legal immigration to America, thanks to the current administration.The second night of the convention illustrated that there’s a difference between being a prop for political theater and having power, and that Trump is determined for this power to remain his.