February 28 2017
Let’s see: President Trump meets in the Oval Office with presidents of about 60 historically black colleges and universities as a prelude to issuing an executive order that would strenthen an office that pushes the federal government to do business with the often-financially strapped African-American institutions by moving the office to the White House.
So what happens? The mainstream media focuses on presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway’s kneeling on a couch with her shoes on while she supposedly scrolls through her phone messages instead of paying attention to the college presidents (actually, Conway was scrunched up on the couch in order to take photos of the event on that phone without getting in the way of the photographers’ pool—but the pool decided to take photos of her instead and then blast them all over the Internet).
And the journalistic snark shower promptly began.. A sample from GQ’s Keith Olbermann:
Get your f---ing feet off the furniture, @KellyannePolls. This isn't your home.
But it was small potatoes compared to the journalistic treatment of Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, when she issued a press release praising the HBCU’s for their offer of higher-education opportunities to young black men and women at a time when they were shut out of many mainstream institutions. DeVos, who has earned the undying hatred of teachers’ unions and most liberals for her advocacy of vouchers and charter schools for inner-city children as alternatives to failing public schools, wrote:
"[T]here were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education….HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice….They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.
This time, not a snark shower but a snark snowstorm!
[T]his official 2017 federal government press release celebrates legal segregation (!!!) on the grounds that the Jim Crow education system gave black students "more options," as if there was a robust competition between HBCUs and white universities for their patronage. (When black Mississippian James Meredith chose the "option" of enrolling at the University of Mississippi in 1962, a massive white mob formed on the campus; two people were shot to death and hundreds injured in the ensuing battle/riot, during which federal marshals came under heavy gunfire, requiring the ultimate intervention of 20,000 U.S. soldiers and thousands more National Guardsmen.)
Marybeth Gasman, a historian of black colleges at the University of Pennsylvania, took to Facebook to denounce DeVos as a white supremacist:
See how HBCUs and their creation are described -- 'they saw that the system wasn't working.' I'm talking to the media about this right now. And then folks are wondering why I don't advocate for kowtowing with Trump and his White Supremacist friends. They are trying to pretend that a vast system of oppression, slavery, Jim Crow, and discrimination never existed. And then using HBCUs to promote their school choice agenda ... give me a break. Stop falling for the okie doke people! You can't negotiate with White supremacists for Black rights and opportunities.
Well! I can’t for the life of me see much difference between the official racial segregation of yesteryear that de jure denied blacks opportunities for quality higher education and the failing public school systems of most urban areas in America that de facto deny blacks opportunities for quality higher education. The five-year high-school graduation rate in Chicago last year for young African-American men was only 57 percent, for example—despite a 17-1 student-teacher ratio at the city’s public schools.
Seems that the Trump administration can’t get a break from the media even when it tries to do something positive for minorities.