A Presidential Problem? Race Relations in the First Presidential Debate

Minority voters remain on edge as prospective leadership fails to provide clear plans on eliminating police brutality in their communities during the first Presidential debate of the season.


Monday evening, approximately 80 million Americans tuned in on their tablets, laptops, and television screens for the first Presidential Debate of this historic election at Hofstra University in New York. The unprecedented ratings paired with live social media commentary proved for a lively event that Americans and citizens worldwide tuned into. Lester Holt, NBC journalist and first African-American to moderate a presidential debate in 24 years, was positioned to ask and guide a discussion on some of America’s most pressing questions.

The debate, featuring Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican party candidate Donald Trump, shed light on each candidate’s preparation, ability, and experience when dealing with issues most important to America. But neither party spoke in-depth to the concerns that are most pressing to minority communities.

Segmented into three sections—America’s direction, achieving prosperity, and securing America—Trump and Clinton went head-to-head as viewers anticipated the plans each had for our country’s future.

Clinton delivered a demanding performance clothed with poise, preparation, and one-liners in response to Trump’s frequent interruptions and challenges to her experience and work. She provided insight and plans progress on tax reform, relations in the Middle East, and employment.

In turn, her opponent Trump offered frivolous responses to Holt’s questions with frequent mention of his businesses success, Mexico, his winning temperament, and Clinton’s inadequacies. Moderator Lester Holt pointed to Trump to answer poignant questions on the delayed release of his tax returns and recent revelation about President Barack Obama’s citizenship.

An anticipated topic of the night was race relations in America and the relationship between Black citizens and police. An unwavering sentiment of avoidance was felt by the Black community as both candidates discussed the dire aspects of the police brutality epidemic. When asked about the racial divide between police and Black America in relation to the recent police killings in Tulsa, OK and Charlotte, NC, neither Clinton nor Trump indulged in discussing the institutional racism to which the unprecedented violence can be attributed.

Clinton’s response noted that race remains a significant challenge in our country and determines where citizens live, the type of education they receive, and how they are treated in the eyes of the law.

She said that it is necessary to restore trust between communities and police, but did not offer steps necessary to establish that trust before swiftly transitioning into the topic of gun reform. She stated that gun reform is a key factor in the killing of Black Americans. But what about the police who continue to have and abuse the guns in their possession?

As Trump touted his recent endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police in his response, he stated that “law and order” must be in place in our communities. He further undermined Black Americans by stating that they are  “living in hell” in cities such as Chicago (a key part of his argument) and suggested that illegal immigrants are to blame for the possession and use of guns that kill Americans of color. He further suggested that “stop and frisk,” a tactic deemed unconstitutional, is necessary to decrease violence in major cities such as New York City despite data displaying the opposite.

In response, Clinton acknowledged that a plan must be created to eliminate the role race plays in the criminalization of Black and Latino citizens and that gun-safety measures, such as comprehensive background checks, will assist in their removal from the police system.

All in all, there is much left to be said and discussed as it comes to race relations and police brutality in the coming debates. Black voters were left feeling ignored as a question specifically geared toward race relations and the recent recorded and publicized police shootings was diverted into a conversation of law, order, and gun safety reform.

Gun reform and the police brutality epidemic are not mutually exclusive and must be addressed as two separate problems of their own magnitude.

Though an eye-opener to a myriad of other challenges America is faced with, there is still much to be said in regard to the safety and preservation of Black lives and Black welfare in America.

What are your opinions on the first presidential debate of the season? Watch the debate below and share your thoughts with us.

 

Walker's Legacy

Walker’s Legacy is a digital platform for the professional and entrepreneurial multicultural woman and exists to inspire, equip, and engage through thought-provoking content, educational programming, and a global community.

1 Comment
  1. Solutions were not addressed. Clinton admitted the problem. Trump parroted law and order, code for mass incarceration for people of color and poor people. As you’ve already stated part two of Trump’s plan was an unconstitutional harassment of people, stop & frisk, widening the chasm of mistrust between police and the Black and Brown communities they are entrusted to serve.

    Institutional racism, implicit and explicit bias, white privilege, lack of accountability, poor policy, the myriad of issues police have to deal with, that they are not equipped to deal with, because of failed social policies (education, mental health, housing, food, treatment for the disease of addiction, etc.), topped off with the fact that feds guide, they dont set policy for independent state law enforcement organizations. The candidates didn’t answer partly because the answers are complex and to date largely untried, and untested.

    However, the blood of our youth and officers flowing in the streets accompanied by the screams of their loved ones as they cry rivers of pain is not the America we can accept or pass on to future generations.

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