From the upcoming midterm elections to an uptick in hate crimes to the tone President Donald Trump has set for the nation, the NAACP certainly has work cut out for it.
In recent interview with the AmNews, the organizations president, Derrick Johnson revealed how the organization is rolling out several initiatives to combat what he calls a racist administration coming from Washington. How does he know? Since Trump has been in office, Johnson said he has yet to meet with the civil rights group.
“I have not met with this president,” Johnson said. “I think this president is tone deaf to communities outside he those he sees as value, and he’s demonstrated he has little value for diversity by race, ethnicity or gender.”
As the saga continues over the recent release of tapes by former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, Johnson said the bigger issue is the lack of African-American representation in the White House.
“I believe this president is a racist and he has indicted this in his actions,” Johnson said. “Anyone elected to the highest in this country must have true representation. The current political landscape has created a greater racial intolerance. Not just against African-Americans, but across the board.” Johnson said the NAACP is focusing on the upcoming state legislative races in the midterm elections. The organization’s strategy is to reach what he calls “infrequent” Black voters who normally participate in presidential elections but not in midterm elections. “State legislative bodies are crucial in public policy issues and ensure there is accurate count with the census,” Johnson said. “We are targeting that population to make sure there is a more representation of the African-American community.”
However, as the NAACP tries to increase the number of Black voters, some municipalities are using tactics to suppress the Black vote. In Georgia for example, one county with a 60 percent Black population is proposing to close seven of its nine polling sites. In another move in the Peach State, nearly 600,000 voters were taken off rolls.
“In some areas we are filing lawsuits where polling places are being closed, and in others we are working in partnership with aggressive communication plan to let people know their right to vote and overcome any magnification out there,” he said.
The recent shooting death of Black, unarmed Markeis McGlockton in Clearwater, Fla. has the NAACP continuing its fight against “stand your ground.” McGlockton was shot by a white man outside of a convenience store after confronting the man, who was harassing his girlfriend and children over a parking space. The white suspect was initially let go—local law enforcement officials cited “stand your ground”—but was later arrested.
“The stand your ground law has resulted an increase in shooting of African-Americans under an individual’s allegedly being in fear of their life,” Johnson said. “Markeis was retreating and there was no imminent threat. As the family pursues justice, we are pursuing policy changes.”
Since its founding in 1909, the NAACP has waged a war on hate crimes against African-Americans. Whereas nation saw an increase in the number of hate groups during Barack Obama’s presidency, during the Trump era, there’s been a rise in hate crimes.
“Elections have consequences and the consequence of this election cycle was division,” Johnson said. “This president has a divisive personality that preys on fear. The only way you combat that is changing the political landscape.”