Mr. President, I For One, Out Of Many, Many, Many Others, Am Not Impressed
Only Trump’s Impression Management Skills Are Theatrical
Once again, President Trump continues to boast and take credit for some carryover attribute of the economy from the Obama administration. Without being specific about the policies he claims that has brought unemployment amongst Blacks to its lowest recorded levels, Trump is seeking admiration and praise with our votes in exchange.
Impression management is a conscious or subconscious process in which people attempt to influence the perceptions of other people about a person, object or event.
Mr. Trump seems to have demanded this as a retort when Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter sat down with Van Jones for the debut of his eponymously titled new series on CNN, a network Trump loathes in his tweets and has said he seldom watches. I haven’t even seen this show at the time but I will after this piece is published.
Jay’s response to Van’s implicitly phrased question on what is being perceived as a redeeming quality of Trump’s presidency thus far follows.
Although Jay had also mentioned something warily sympathetic to the plutocracy in regards to Donald Sterling (the former owner of the LA Clippers), his metaphorical response was most agreeable to a generous extent. But money, however, does equate to the ability to defend oneself or make oneself whole as Donald Sterling did for himself from an institutional vantage point. The same cannot be said for the vast majority of those who are powerless against an institution that privileges the well heeled and moneyed groups that are disproportionately represented as racially white.
It would be fallacious to attribute the downward trending of the unemployment rate amongst Blacks to Donald Trump’s policies. Yes it has trended downward to an all-time recorded low by way of momentum into Trump’s first year in office, but that is relative to the overall downward trending rate of unemployment in general. What has not changed is the glaring persistent gap between those rates — 3.7% amongst whites versus 6.8% — which is nearly double.
If whites were at the same unemployment rate as Blacks at this time it would be seen as a national crisis and an epidemic akin to the opioid crisis. It seems as though at this rate when applied to Blacks this has an inverse effect and is cause for celebration and exaltation of Trump.
During the heights of the recession in 2009 the unemployment rate amongst whites peaked at 8.8% while it was in the double digits for Blacks at nearly 16%. Again, nearly double.
Many highly respected policy institutions point their research conclusions towards barriers to educational attainment as the main culprit but this seems somewhat scurrilous to me. This labor markets’ displacement of low-skilled or the insufficiently skilled as a response to the need for advanced skills and credentials without much investment in job training is specious at best. That this seems to severely affect the Black and Latino population more so is just a curious sentiment in the labor market even though the White population (not Hispanic, or not Latino as of July 2016 Census) happens to be 4.6, and 3.4 times bigger, respectively. This suggests that we have a highly credentialed and skilled population of Whites, or that only 3.7% of them are not qualified. Some research has suggested that there is this resilience factor at play amongst Blacks — that they remain actively unemployed in the market which — subsequently suggest that some whites may not need to look so diligently for work for whatever reason.
The struggle may be real for some, but not so much for others.
It is also suggestive that the impression that Trump wants to lay on us is that his mere presence and influence in the White House is making a difference socioeconomically — in this instance he even makes Black lives better. This crass oversimplification has me wondering about his impression management skills and what he is really signaling with them.
The stage presents things that are make-believe; presumably life presents things that are real and sometimes not well rehearsed. More important, perhaps, on the stage one player presents himself in the guise of a character to characters projected by other players; the audience constitutes a third party to the interaction — one that is essential and yet, if the stage performance were real, one that would not be there.__Erving Goffman
The president is both assertive and defensive in the impression he wants leave on Blacks in particular — an audience that is simply not here for his bull$hit performance. Trump also wants to signal to his White counterparts how impressively benevolent his policies have been to minorities, in spite of his anti-immigration policies, barbs about the Black NFL athletes’ lack of patriotism, and racist attitudes towards the Black community.
Trump and his “must see tv” style and approach in persona is basically a cynical and manipulative self presentation for himself, his supporters and stakeholders, so there is really nothing to believe in or see here.