Don’t be fooled by Trump’s Ops in the Bronx


“Black Vote, Black Power,” a collaboration between Keith Boykin and Word In Black, examines the issues, the candidates, and what’s at stake for Black America in the 2024 presidential election.

by Keith Boykin

Here we go again.

On break from his New York hush money criminal trial, Donald Trump held a campaign rally on Thursday in the South Bronx. But just like his Chick-fil-A photo op in Atlanta and his staged visit to a bodega on the outskirts of Harlem, Trump is trolling us once again.

Trump’s latest rally was littered with his greatest hits of mistruths and conspiracy theories. He repeated the lie that he won twice, praised dictators for being “at the top of their game,” accused immigrants of building an army against the U.S., promised to “indemnify all police officers” even when they kill Black people, and even bizarrely claimed that curious business leaders are asking him how he puts his pants on every day.

In a raucous event that featured multiple fights and protests, the twice-impeached former president brought on stage two local rappers that no one in the audience had probably heard of, and a homophobic former New York City council member, Ruben Diaz Sr., who lost his race for Congress four years ago to a Black gay man.

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Unlike President Biden, who delivered $16 billion in funding when he spoke at Morehouse College last week, Trump brought nothing new and substantive to offer the people of the Bronx.

That’s because the South Bronx is overwhelmingly Hispanic and Black (64% and 31%, respectively), but you would never know that from the mostly white crowd that showed up for the circus at Crotona Park on Thursday.

Located north and east of Harlem, the Bronx is one of the five boroughs of New York City. It’s the birthplace of hip hop, the location of Yankee Stadium, and home to a large foreign-born community that makes up 32% of the population. Trump’s plan to deport 15 million immigrants may not sit well with the real residents of the community.

The Bronx also has the highest poverty rate and the highest unemployment rate of the 62 counties in the state. If Trump really cared about the people there, he’d push his party to support a permanent childcare tax credit instead of promoting tax breaks for billionaires.

But Trump has no chance of winning the Bronx, New York City, or New York state, so he’s staging carefully orchestrated pit stops in the area during his criminal trial to push a false narrative to the media that he’s making inroads with Black and Hispanic voters.

The park where the rally took place is located in New York’s 15th congressional district, represented by Ritchie Torres, a 36-year-old Afro-Latino gay man, who says that Trump is “less popular than arsenic” in the Bronx (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

“You live in a blue city, but it’s going red very, very quickly,” Trump told the rally. No, it’s not.

The park where the rally took place is located in New York’s 15th congressional district, represented by Ritchie Torres, a 36-year-old Afro-Latino gay man, who says that Trump is “less popular than arsenic” in the Bronx. It’s considered the poorest district in the country, and President Biden won 85% of the vote in 2020, while Trump, a native New Yorker, took only 14.7%.

Biden also defeated Trump throughout New York City, 76% to 23%, but here’s the thing. New York is the largest city in America, so 23% of the turnout is still nearly 700,000 people. So, yes, Trump has hundreds of thousands of supporters in the Big Apple, but they’re a tiny minority compared to the 8 million residents who live there.

Unfortunately, Trump doesn’t do math. He plays head games about crowd sizes to convince himself and his supporters that he’s always winning because he can fill an auditorium. He deployed the same tactic in 2016 and 2020, when he drew huge crowds at his rallies but lost the popular vote in both elections. That’s because big crowds don’t equal big votes.

Our side is much bigger than their side,” Trump told his audience in the Bronx, ignoring the reality that Republicans haven’t won the popular vote in a presidential election in 20 years.

But Trump is a celebrity, and even some of his critics find him oddly amusing because you never know what’s going to happen when he speaks. It’s like watching a train wreck. You don’t want to see it, but you can’t stop staring.

While Biden was busy hosting a series of state meetings with President William Ruto of Kenya at the White House on Thursday, Trump was acting a fool in the Bronx. Which do you think is more likely to draw a crowd?

If a handful of Black people show up and show out at a Trump rally, some in the media consider that breaking news that allegedly counters the narrative about him. Actually, it doesn’t. Trump won only 12 percent of the Black vote in 2020.

But that’s still millions of Black people, so Trump could theoretically generate Black crowds all across the country and lose 90% of the Black vote to Biden. That’s why the media needs to contextualize the Black and brown presence at Trump’s rallies with actual voting data that clearly demonstrates those people are a tiny minority in their own communities.

But the media love a horse race, and TV producers still haven’t figured out how to tell these election stories without perpetuating manipulative campaign propaganda. That’s the lesson CBS News reporter Lesley Stahl learned back in the 1980s when she discovered that the Reagan White House didn’t mind her critical reports because she used the video images the administration picked to communicate its message. Just like the Trump campaign, they knew that positive pictures mattered more than negative words.

So when you see Trump staging these events in Black and brown communities, don’t be fooled by The Ops that he got. He’s still Donny, and he’s not for the Bronx.

Keith Boykin is a New York Times–bestselling author, TV and film producer, and former CNN political commentator. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, Keith served in the White House, cofounded the National Black Justice Coalition, cohosted the BET talk show My Two Cents, and taught at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University in New York. He’s a Lambda Literary Award-winning author and editor of seven books. He lives in Los Angeles.

The post Don’t Be Fooled By Trump’s Ops in the Bronx appeared first on Word In Black.

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