I want to point out that Nancy Pelosi has outmaneuvered Trump again. In response to his retweeting a clearly racist and dangerous video that connects Rep. Ilhan Omar with 9/11, she is focusing on the real issue of the congresswoman's safety. She has spoken to the "Sergeant-at-Arms to ensure that Capitol Police are conducting a security assessment to safeguard Congresswoman Omar," and she's requested that the Capitol Police investigate any threats to Omar made in Minnesota. The massacre of Muslims in New Zealand is still fresh in the public's mind. Also fresh in the news is that a New York man, and Trump supporter, was arrested and charged with threatening to kill Omar. So, on Sunday, April 14, Pelosi moved quickly to address the obvious security issue caused by Trump's obvious racism. (In the US, you cannot speak about race outright in the mainstream without some loss of credibility, but you can speak of safety—from a cat to a congresswoman—and maintain a strong impression.)
But Trump does not really give a hoot about Pelosi's maneuvering because he only sends messages to his base. Nevertheless, Trump and the GOP's attacks on Omar have resulted in a new and much-welcomed development for all blacks in the US. In the past, there has been some distance between black African immigrants and black Americans. A considerable part of this is a consequence of their different experiences of racism. For black Africans, it was and still is associated with white Europeans. With black Americans, it was and still is associated with white Americans. Because these histories are different, black Africans have had a relationship with white Americans that is not deeply sour, and, obversely, black Americans have had a relationship with white Europeans that is equally not bitter. Though both black Americans and black Africans recognize the racism in Europe and the US, it is more tolerable if one in either group does not have a long history with it. In walks Ilhan Omar on the American scene. She is a black African.
DUVERNAY: You have outside scrutiny that is unprecedented. This takedown culture can be destructive + harmful. How are you managing that?
OMAR: We try to focus on defending our ideas and not be put in a corner where we are stuck defending our identities. https://t.co/3yg9ne4nSK
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) April 13, 2019
On the black American side, what is seen is a black woman being attacked by a white president and his party. They know all about this sort of thing. It defines their entire history in this country. Blackness as the enemy, as what you impoverish, what you throw into prison. Omar's faith is not the issue here, it is the color of her skin, and black Americans see that immediately.
On the other side, the black African one, it is the realization that a white American president sees blackness not as black African and black American but only as black and attacks it as such. Because a huge part of the president's support is from white Americans (and he is still soaring in the polls with that group), the optics are clear and present: the racism black Africans are familiar with is exactly the same as the one they don't have a deep history with. You are still, to put it bluntly, a kaffir in the US. This is what Trump's tweet communicates clearly.
It is at this point that an opportunity has opened. It is Omar's troubles as a bridge between black groups that have always had difficulty connecting. The support for Omar from black America is visible, and a black African sympathy with the black American experience is now relateable. Many may find this hard to understand or appreciate, but this is because the social space between black Africans and black Americans is poorly understood and rarely discussed or examined. It is an unknown. Nevertheless, the space (or gulf) is real, and up to now there seemed no possible way to bridge it. Omar is making black history.