The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Trump asked blacks, ‘What the hell do you have to lose?’ We now have their response.

Trump says, "No group in America has been more harmed by Hillary Clinton's policies than African Americans." (Video: The Washington Post)

On Aug. 19, 2016, before an overwhelmingly white crowd in Dimondale, Mich., where 2.8 percent of the population is African American, then-candidate Donald Trump stumped for black votes. After blaming Democrats and their nominee, Hillary Clinton, for his repeated stereotypical view of African American lives, Trump ended his pitch with a blunt query: “What do you have to lose by trying something new, like Trump? … What the hell do you have to lose?”

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Eight months into President Trump’s tenure, African Americans have given an overwhelming response in “The Lives and Voices of Black America.” The survey of 1,003 African Americans was funded by the Ford Foundation, conducted by PerryUndem and administered by the University of Chicago’s NORC AmeriSpeak panel.

Black women (69 percent) and men (56 percent) said they are “worried” about Trump. But the specifics of those worries are laid out in three eye-popping charts.

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Only 5 percent believe Trump’s policies will “positively” affect African Americans.

“Negative effect” by policy. You name the issue — black folks are scared.

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Respondents believe that Trump’s policies will have a “negative effect” on their ability to “keep children safe from mass incarceration” (65 percent), “keep children safe from over-policing” (62 percent), “raise children” (58 percent) and “plan for whether or when to become a parent” (50 percent). These four stats jump out at me for their impact on the future of the black family and the community at large. They speak to gripping fear and stunted futures. It’s hard to feel optimistic when the president sides with bigots, reverses sensible Justice Department policies and tries to take away your health care.

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So, “What do you have to lose?” We now have their answer: Everything.

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