Trump’s Address to Congress 2.28.17

On the evening of the last day of Black History Month, Mr. Trump stood before the joint houses of Congress to deliver his speech. Starting off, he condemns the anti-Semitic attacks and the drive-by shooting of Indian immigrants. He says that, while politics may be divided, the United States stands together when it comes to the heinous acts of hate. Trump then goes on to give nationalist-tinged rhetoric about America’s readiness to take her rightful place in the world.

He addressed the crumbling infrastructure he hopes to rebuild, later mentioning the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines. In his speech, Mr. Trump claims that he will create tens of thousands of jobs, which is true; however, these jobs will only be temporary, and will end when the construction of the pipelines is completed. He says that he will end the crisis that faces inner city children of Chicago, Detroit, and Baltimore, then says we must address the influx of drugs and people over our borders. With this being said, he again affirmed that a wall would be built along the southern border of the United States.

In combating the threats from outside the U.S., Trump also said he wished to continue the fight against radical Islamic terrorism, which is why he introduced the “improved vetting procedures” that culminated in his travel ban. He also claims that he wishes to work with Muslims specifically in the fight against ISIS, which seems strange coming from the man who introduced a travel ban for those from several primarily Muslim countries.

Trump turns to jobs and the American market next, saying that he will most definitely bring back jobs. However, he doesn’t introduce any real plans to do so. He also says that the tariffs that other countries have on American goods are ridiculously high, so there must be change. If he is suggesting higher tariffs for foreign goods, that could hurt our market, because other countries will also raise their tariffs on American products.

He moves to immigration next, saying that a merit-based system would be in the best interest for America. Mr. Trump also restates his intent to roll back the ACA, his support for Devos and her school choice plan, and the law enforcement of the U.S. His plans to expand the military defense budget are also discussed, as well as more of the “unifying” theme he seems to present throughout the speech.

In his speech, he presents a long list of things he’d like to do, but the actual implementation of them remain up in the air. His vague calls for “unity” and putting aside “trivial” differences seems to belittle some of the very real issues that have divided people throughout the country. While newspaper outlets have called this speech “surprisingly presidential” for Mr. Trump, that is more of a criticism than praise, considering the shock that comes when Mr. Trump actually seems like he might be taking his job seriously.

Homophobic Hip Hop

If you’re like me, the release of Migos’ new album was the highlight of your week when it came out, and you’ve been blasting it ever since. At the gym, in your car, walking through campus; it really doesn’t matter, because the album is consistently lit enough to get you through any part of your day.

Following the release of their album, Migos interviewed with Rolling Stone, during which the interviewer asked how they felt about iLoveMakonnen coming out. Apparently this was news to Migos, and there was an awkward silence before Quavo expresses his surprise. Even more, they express distaste with the fans and others who supported iLoveMakonnen’s decision, with Offset saying, “This world is not right.” Along with many others, Migos seem to believe that not being cisgendered and heterosexual undermines the credibility of a hip hop artist.

This attitude is not at all new to hip hop culture. While some artists have been accepted in mainstream culture recently, for the most part the hip hop culture and lifestyle is seen as incompatible with anyone whose identity lies outside of gender norms. This credibility issue continues to come up, with even artists that say they support LGBTQ artists not wanting to have ties with them. When giving statements supporting the LGBTQ community and the artists that identify with some part of it, straight hip hop artists often preface their support with, “I’m not gay but…” Why is this qualifier necessary? Why is hip hop so determined to separate itself from certain groups of people?

Some artists don’t believe hip hop culture will ever fully accept LGBTQ artists in their ranks, because, according to an interview with Snoop Dogg, it’s such a “masculine” genre. Migos themselves have often raved about the diversity of hip hop in Atlanta, yet cannot reconcile the idea that diversity can include personal identities about sexuality. With hip hop lyrics often littered with slurs about gay men, artists who don’t identify as straight men are often disinclined to be real about their sexuality, in fear of losing “credibility” in the hip hop culture.

In a Vulture article earlier this month, the writer posits that rejecting the idea that anyone who is not straight can be a “real” hip hop artist is simply bigotry used to protect the hierarchy in hip hop culture. To be a “real man” means certain things, and for the most part, hip hop doesn’t seem inclined to work to change that.

There have been a train of artists working to provide more inclusion for LGBTQ artists in hip hop. Many, like Jay-Z, have changed their tune concerning old lyrics spouting homophobia, apologizing for them. The recent uptick in artists coming out has forced many hip hop artists to grapple with their own homophobia, and if they are still going to discriminate against artists, and other individuals, who don’t fit their idea of a “real” hip hop artist. While hip hop has often been used as a tool of social activism to fight against injustice, it seems that a glaring blind spot has existed with LGBTQ rights, and will most likely exist for a long time until many more artists within hip hop work to change that aspect of culture that discredits artists who aren’t straight men.

 

For further reading:

Snoop Lion Talks Homosexuality in Rap Music, Frank Ocean’s Coming Out

Migos’ Wild World: One Night Inside the Studio with ‘Bad and Boujee’ Trio

Rap is Less Homophobic Than Ever, But It Has a Long Way to Go

How Homophobic is Hip Hop in 2016?

Has Hip Hop Outgrown Homophobia?: A Timeline

From A$AP to Jay Z: 15 Hip Hop Stars Who Think Homophobes are Muthaf*ckers

Trump’s First Week (and a half) in Executive Orders

This past week and a half has been a complete mess in the realm of politics and social justice. I am in no way saying, however, that the U.S. was the standard of justice before, because it certainly has never been close. That aside, if you decided that your best form of self care was to take a break from the news for a while, here’s a short recap of the executive orders signed by DJT in his first week and a half as president, to help catch you up on what’s going on!

Executive Order 1:

The official title of this order is Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal. Signed on January 20th, this mouthful is Trump’s first step in his attempts to repeal the ACA, or Obamacare. While this order does not give any framework for how this is to be done, or the new healthcare system that Trump plans to implement, it does start the process by which he wishes to allow healthcare providers to compete for their customers in an open market.

Executive Order 2:

The order Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority Infrastructure Projects was signed on January 24th. This order expedites the reviewal process for any infrastructure process deemed “high priority” to 30 days, within which timeframe the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Equality must give a decision about the implementation of the project. If a project is indeed decided to classify as high priority, deadlines must also be constructed for the completion of the infrastructural project. Some of the projects listed as fitting this description of beneficial infrastructure were airports, bridges, highways, and least surprising of all, pipelines.

Executive Order 3:

This order, called Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the U.S., was released on January 25th. Here Trump states that “aliens”, including those who overstay their visas, pose a problem to the safety of American citizens, especially those who engage in criminal activity. In this act, he directs that 10,000 more immigration officers be hired, and gives state and local law enforcement agencies the power to act as immigration officers where they see fit. In addition, a weekly report will be issued, chronicling all the crimes of illegal immigrants.

Executive Order 4:

On January 25th as well, the Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements order was signed, stating that law enforcement agencies along the Mexico/U.S. border should take whatever lawful actions necessary to secure the border. Included among the actions deemed necessary is the construction of a wall along the border, with the planning and implementation of such to begin immediately, as is the procuring of funds for this project. This order also directs the hiring of an additional 5,000 Border Patrol officers, and reiterates the permission that state and local agencies have to act as immigration officers.

Executive Order 5:

Two days later, another order was issued, this one called Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States. In the opening paragraphs of this order, it says that the United States must not allow entry to people who “engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own), or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.” In addition, this order states that visas and other benefits to “countries of national concern” will be invalid for at least 90 days. These countries are Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Iran, and Somalia. Green card holders, while not mentioned in this order, have also been affected. In addition, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is to be suspended for 120 days while it is reviewed, and upon reinstatement, priority will be given to those seeking asylum for religious persecution. Syrian refugees are called “detrimental” to the interests of the United States, and are not permitted to enter the country indefinitely. Over 5,000 refugees per year will be considered a financial burden, and thus greater than that will not be allowed.

Executive Order 6:

This order, called the Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees, was issued on January 28th. In summary, this order limits the lobbying abilities of any employee of the executive office for 5 years after the end of their employment. It also limits the communications that former employees are allowed to have with current employees in their department.

Executive Order 7:

The executive order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs was signed on January 30th. It begins by stating that for every regulation implemented, two must be rescinded, and thus making the net costs of new regulations zero. Any additional costs that must be incurred are subject to additional approval, which could slow the implementation process.

While this may seem like a lot to take in, this doesn’t even begin to cover the other executive actions that Mr. Trump has issued so far, which include eleven memorandums and one proclamation. The memoranda are basically executive orders that don’t require the heavy documentation of an executive order, yet still carry the weight of the law. Proclamations are not binding as law, but merely strong suggestions. If you’d like to look further into these, the White House’s official website has all the executive actions and their exact texts. 

This article was edited for clarity at 5:26 p.m. on 2/8/17.