This speech left me, well, speechless. So here's the transcript and a commentary. Transcript is the italicized text in quotes.
Let’s Read the Transcript of Trump’s Black History Month Speech
patheos.com February 1, 2017 by Mary Pezzulo All images are works of art in the public domain
I have here in front of me, a transcript of Donald Trump’s remarks at a White House Black History Month event this morning.
These remarks are, in a quiet way, the most tragic thing to come out of the Trump presidency so far.
Let’s have a gander:
"Well, the election, it came out really well. Next time we’ll triple the number or quadruple it. We want to get it over 51, right? At least 51."
I’m not pulling your leg. These are the actual first words of his Black History Month speech. I’m not 100% sure what “51” refers to, but it calls to mind Chales Demuth’s famous painting “The Figure 5 In Gold,” and I feel we need all the fine art we can get right now.
Ahh, that’s better.
Now, back to the speech.
"Well this is Black History Month, so this is our little breakfast, our little get-together. Hi Lynn, how are you? Just a few notes. During this month, we honor the tremendous history of African-Americans throughout our country. Throughout the world, if you really think about it, right? And their story is one of unimaginable sacrifice, hard work, and faith in America. I’ve gotten a real glimpse—during the campaign, I’d go around with Ben to a lot of different places I wasn’t so familiar with. They’re incredible people. And I want to thank Ben Carson, who’s gonna be heading up HUD. That’s a big job. That’s a job that’s not only housing, but it’s mind and spirit. Right, Ben? And you understand, nobody’s gonna be better than Ben."
Name-dropping and flattering the black person he knows in his Black History Month speech, and casual references to the strange places he’s never been before where black people live. Classy.
I’m also intrigued by the idea that the Department of Housing and Urban Development manages not only housing, but mind and spirit. I have the mental image of overall-clad construction workers and architects in a bright, sunny studio, doing yoga together, and it’s not an unpleasant image. I wish I could linger there instead of coming back to earth to read the rest of this speech.
"Last month, we celebrated the life of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., whose incredible example is unique in American history. You read all about Dr. Martin Luther King a week ago when somebody said I took the statue out of my office. It turned out that that was fake news. Fake news. The statue is cherished, it’s one of the favorite things in the—and we have some good ones. We have Lincoln, and we have Jefferson, and we have Dr. Martin Luther King. But they said the statue, the bust of Martin Luther King, was taken out of the office. And it was never even touched. So I think it was a disgrace, but that’s the way the press is. Very unfortunate."
That’s a fine example of stream of consciousness, there. The sordid accusations that he moved a statue out of his own office have obviously been weighing on his mind for days and days; he opened his mouth to talk about Martin Luther King, Junior, and his outrage just slipped out. Once it started slipping, there was no stopping it. Next thing you know we’re on to fake news and sentence fragments, an abstract painting in prose. It’s like the “Nude Descending A Staircase” of Black History speeches. Speaking of which, I think we need to look at another painting:
There. Now one can breathe more easily. We soldier on:
"I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things. Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I noticed. Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today. Big impact."
This is triggering flashbacks to every grammar school oral report I’ve ever had to listen to. The poor man doesn’t know who Fredrick Douglass is, but feels that he’s going to be docked a grade if he doesn’t say something. He is correct.
Wherever Fox is, thank you.
He’ll always have Paris. If I were in Paris, I’d go to the Louvre and bask in all that beauty for a long, long time. Let’s look at something from the Louvre, just to soothe our troubled spirits.
This is my actual face right now.
Now, back to Donald Trump:
"We’re gonna need better schools and we need them soon. We need more jobs, we need better wages, a lot better wages. We’re gonna work very hard on the inner city. Ben is gonna be doing that, big league. That’s one of the big things that you’re gonna be looking at. We need safer communities and we’re going to do that with law enforcement. We’re gonna make it safe. We’re gonna make it much better than it is right now. Right now it’s terrible, and I saw you talking about it the other night, Paris, on something else that was really—you did a fantastic job the other night on a very unrelated show."
I think that, if I were going to write a book on how to annoy black people, I would use this as an example. Start by mentioning “inner cities.” Refer to your African-American Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who is a grown man and a doctor, by his first name with no honorific several times. Talk obsessively about law enforcement for safety and pretend this has something to do with Black History Month. A very unrelated show, indeed.
"I’m ready to do my part, and I will say this: We’re gonna work together. This is a great group, this is a group that’s been so special to me. You really helped me a lot. If you remember I wasn’t going to do well with the African-American community, and after they heard me speaking and talking about the inner city and lots of other things, we ended up getting—and I won’t go into details—but we ended up getting substantially more than other candidates who had run in the past years. And now we’re gonna take that to new levels. I want to thank my television star over here—Omarosa’s actually a very nice person, nobody knows that. I don’t want to destroy her reputation but she’s a very good person, and she’s been helpful right from the beginning of the campaign, and I appreciate it. I really do. Very special."
I can’t snark this. I can’t literally even. We need to look at another painting.
ALL THE PAINTINGS.
"So I want to thank everybody for being here."
Don’t mention it, Mr. President. No, seriously. Don’t ever open your mouth again.