How Trump hurt my grandson

Burt-Clemons-featureI remember seeing Emmett Till’s mutilated face on the cover of Jet Magazine. I remember the effect it had on me as a young boy.  I realized that as a black boy, I could be killed because of my color. That will forever be etched in my mind. Fear overcame me. My world changed.

Recently, I witnessed my grandson’s pain, disgust and emotional trauma as he watched a news clip of a black man being hit by a white man at a Donald Trump rally. He heard Trump talk about punching and then playfully talk about killing someone who disrupts his campaign rallies.
I don’t want to cheapen the life of Emmett Till by this comparison. But I witnessed my grandson’s anger as his emotions overpowered him.
He didn’t want to talk right after he watched the Trump event. He wanted to think about what he had just witnessed. I understood what he was going through, but I had to talk with him: I didn’t want him to experience the same emotional trauma that I experienced years ago.
You see, no one talked to me about my emotions and fear when I saw the black kid in his coffin on the cover of Jet so many years ago. My grandson said he wanted to cuss and fight. I explained that would be doing exactly what he disliked so much about Trump. So he asked if could say a few curse words. I told him to have at it. He surprised me because all he could come up with was calling Trump a bitch!
News reports kept showing clips of Trump talking about hitting and punching people who disagreed with him. The white man at the rally even mentioned killing that black man if he came back to the rally.
Trump mentioned thinking about killing someone as well, but he slowly reconsidered it.
He said he’d pay for the legal fees for anyone who punched a protestor at his rallies. Trump tried to distance himself from this guy, but the last word was he might pay legal fees.
Seeing the police throw the black man down while telling the white man to take a seat further upset my grandson. My grandson, Ethan, is 11. He simply can’t understand why this kind of naked discrimination is taking place.
Ethan has always had friends of all different ethnicities. He has gone to schools where all races interact, where kids of various backgrounds have sleep-overs and go to malls together.
My grandson saw this as being outrageous and vile behavior that has gone too far. He doesn’t understand how someone like this could be considered for the presidency.
How many black and brown kids have been similarly emotional and psychologically scared by Trump’s campaign?
Will there be a new crop of KKK kids, who unashamedly think they are right to embrace this kind of hatred?
Who will hold Donald Trump accountable for his inciting words and destructive campaign shenanigans?
Nowhere but America could such an ignorant white man be taken seriously for the highest political office. And nowhere else could an intelligent black president be held hostage and not allowed to function, according to the Constitutional duties granted any president, because of his color.
W.E.B. Dubois’ words ring out in our ears, “The problem of the 20th Century is the problem of the color line.”
Martin Luther King is turning in his grave.  The content of a man’s character in this country isn’t worth one thin dime.
Burt Clemons

About Burt Clemons
Mr. Clemons is passionate about videography and photography, and was among the first photographers to document life among Sacramento homeless residents during the “Tent City” occupation that gained international attention in 2009. He has provided decades of community service to neighborhoods across Sacramento. A prime concern for him is the anger visible in many South Sacramento locations.


  1. jan christensen-heller says

    Mr. Clemons, It is a pity that you grandson of 11 is feeling like he is at risk. I am sorry. I would like to think that racism is a thing of the past but it is not and in my advancing years I think it will always be an issue. I believe that racism is inherent in being human and it saddens me. What can we do to end this perhaps talking about it in an open forum is important.

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