Will Trump’s Mug Shot Really Win Black Voters?

It is my great pleasure to welcome as my first guest stacker the incomparable Kira Davis of “Just Kira”’ Substack and the “Just Listen To Yourself” Podcast! — JOO

I can’t meme, but my friends can! A hilarious one from my friend, Pete Zimo.

The mugshot heard round the world dropped last week and there has been a non-stop parade of memes and merchandise ever since. Trump’s camp began their fundraising almost the second his picture was taken at the Fulton County Jail in Georgia. The image is everywhere and already the progressive left is whining about how instantly iconic it has become. This was supposed to be a deeply embarrassing moment for Trump. Instead, like almost everything else Trump touches, it has become a meme.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the buzz around THE MUGSHOT is how it seems to be playing out in the Black community, or at least in black social media spaces. In a post on X, conservative commentator and documentary filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza had this to say:

The black conservative pundit class was outraged. “This is why black folks don’t vote Republican!” they shouted, and I quite agreed. We do not need some Republican nerd running around talking about how black folks just love crime so much we are drawn to symbols of it, like mugshots.

There’s this thing I learned to do during the Trump administration. Every time someone posted some OUTRAGEOUS™ clip of Trump saying something OUTRAGEOUS™ that seemed just so OUTRAGEOUS™ this current outrage would certainly be the end of him, I would ask myself, “This makes me cringe…but is he right?” He got himself into a lot of mainstream media hot water for reportedly calling third world countries like Haiti and other African nations “shithole countries.” We were all supposed to be grossly offended at the leader of the free world describing those countries as such because they are populated with black people. Naturally this means Trump is a racist.

But I asked myself, “Is it true?” Trump’s now infamous remarks were in regard to the types of immigrants we let stream across our border illegally while legal, college-educated immigrants are waiting to jump through hoops for a remote chance at citizenship. Why not prioritize immigrants from nations that educate their populations and send us their credentialed instead of nations that enthusiastically offload their poor to American taxpayers? Did I miss the memo about Haiti being a successful, thriving, well-managed country? Last time I checked it was a nightmare of famine, pollution, and corruption. A shithole if you will. It’s so bad, one only has to look at the island from the air to see the exact demarcation of where the crappy country ends and the better-managed one begins. Haiti and the Dominican Republic share an island, but that’s about it. And have you seen the number of despots and tyrannical authoritarians that run many African nations these days? Trump may have been sharp with his language, but he wasn’t wrong.

So, I asked my husband, a conservative but pretty apolitical black man, what he thought of the Trump mugshot.

“I think he looks defiant!” he responded, with a measure of respect that surprised me given he’d cooled on Trump since 2020.

I asked a few other black male friends, and the response was pretty much uniform. I’ll sum it up in one blue sentence, if you’ll forgive the language…” I think it’s dope as f***!” The black men I know in the news business were not nearly as impressed, but I don’t think they’re the rule. I think they’re the exception.

I Meme, Therefore I Am on Instagram: “Democrats just helped Trump to get more votes from Black Community and I love it!!🤣🤣🤣”
August 28, 2023

I Meme, Therefore I Am on Instagram: “This man in Georgia knows what’s up… “I’m here to support Trump because they been doing black men like this for decades. I know Trump is innocent. I support Trump against this corrupt two-tier justice system… Fani Willis is full of sh*t.” 🎥 FREEDOMNEWS . COM”
August 28, 2023

The Official Brokeback Patriot 🇺🇸 on Instagram: ”*paradigm shift taking place*”
August 28, 2023

I’ve read the “charges” and no matter what your personal opinion of Trump may be, anyone with an ounce of intellectual integrity would read those charges and know they are not only ridiculous and weak, they are so vague that to convict a president on any one of them  would mean an endless cycle of pressing charges on past and present executive office politicians. Mutually assured destruction no longer exists. Welcome to anarchy. So, hell yes, Trump should look like a maniac bent on revenge in that photo, and hell yes, it should be iconic. This is watershed moment in American history. Our republic will never be the same no matter what happens to Trump.

The real weakness of D’Souza’s post was the assumption that such an iconic photo would translate into winning more of the black vote.

You’ll notice I said I’ve been asking black men about their reactions. That’s because there is a stark divide between black men and black women when it comes to Trump. Overwhelmingly, black women are celebrating Trump’s arrest. Overwhelmingly they are regarding (at least online) Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis as a heroine. There seems to be a stunning schism between how most black men are viewing this and how most black women are viewing this.

This is all empirical, I understand, but Dinesh brought it up, and you’re reading a Substack opinion article, not a white paper from the Heritage Foundation.

In examining D’Souza’s post with a more objective lens, he is surely correct about mugshots being symbols of both victimization and celebrity. His Tupac reference was a good one, and we could include MLK’s infamous mugshot as an “iconic” image particularly in black American culture. He wasn’t wrong about that, and it was what I was hearing during my informal polling.

Look at Martha Stewart. She was the epitome of upper class, snobby, white woman privilege. One mugshot and some jail time and now she does shows with Snoop Dogg. I can get mad at D’Souza for saying something that he should probably leave to cooler people to say, but I can’t get mad at his logic. And I wanted to… believe me.

All that being said, there’s no way to tell if this would translate into extra votes for Trump, and no matter how badass this mugshot is perceived in the culture, black Americans are nowhere near flipping for Republicans. Trump managed to peel off 11% of the black vote in the last election. That’s a lot for a Republican, but it still means nearly 90% of us are still reflexive Democrats. I don’t think a mugshot will do much to change that.

What it might do—if the Republican Party had any real strategy—is motivate black urban voters to hear a little bit more about the J6 charges, Trump’s charges, and by extension, the reasons why electing Republicans can bring positive change. Right now, black culture is engaged with Trump, for better or worse. Republicans could use this opportunity to message in previously ignored communities.

They won’t, and that is what I find most offensive. Not Dinesh D’Souza’s post.

*Click here to follow Kira Davis’ Substack and follow her “Just Listen To Yourself” Podcast Page on Facebook.

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