Yesterday, Donald Trump dominated New York’s Republican primary, securing over 60% of the popular vote and 89 of the state’s 95 delegates. This victory makes it all the more likely he’ll secure the Republican Presidential nomination over climate change denier Ted Cruz and “women-in-the-kitchen” candidate John Kasich.
Naturally, many New Yorkers are upset that our state played any part in the advancement of such a violent, bigoted oligarch. One of these people, incidentally, would have been Harlem-born rapper Tupac Shakur, whose views on Trump have now become public in a 1992 video recently unearthed by MTV.
The MTV video is dated August 8, 1992 — a short few months after race riots erupted in Los Angeles following the announcement that the four officers responsible for brutally beating Rodney King had been acquitted of using excessive force.
In it, Pac discusses the systemic nature of wealth inequality in America: “Everybody is taught at school if you want to be successful, you want to be like Trump, it’s all gimme gimme gimme, crush crush crush,” he explains.
Nearly 25 years later, this video is all the more relevant. Tupac unknowingly explains why Trump’s greed-fuelled rhetoric cripplingly impedes a truly democratic, equal, and just society. “Now America is dressed up in jewels, they paid and they lending money to everybody except for us. Everybody need a little help on they way to being self reliant,” he explains. “No independent person was born and just grew up independent. You worked and you learned teamwork and cooperation and unity and struggle and then you became independent. We have to teach that and instill that.”
He continues to make an impassioned case about the redistribution of wealth — the fundamental tenant of Sanders’ Presidential platform: “There’s no way that these people should own planes when people don’t have houses, apartments, shacks, drawers, pants.” What about, as the MTV interviewer suggests, people who earned all that? “Even if you earned it,” Pac responds, “you still owe.”
Perhaps most importantly, the rapper also speaks about the connection between economic inequality and social prosperity, acutely demonstrating why Trump’s campaign is so incredibly harmful. “Just because [a person] don’t got [money or resources] doesn’t mean he’s bad, mean he’s a criminal, mean he’s crazy, a drug addict, or none of that.
It just mean he don’t got.” There is a 16 to 1 wealth accumulation gap between black and white Americans right now. Economic disadvantage isn’t, as Trump is attempting to convince us, a signifier of individual or communal degeneracy, it’s been institutionally sustained for hundreds of years — from slavery to the G.I. Bill.
In spite of all the justified anger Pac expresses in the video, he — like Sanders — sees potential for change: “but it takes something revolutionary, something out of the ordinary.”