Black in Trump's America Our World


Black in Trump's America

Gabriel Gatehouse reports from Louisiana. How much of a difference did Barack Obama's presidency make to the lives of African-Americans?


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In the final week of the Obama presidency, a Louisiana high school

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marching band rehearses for the big day. We do not see colour, race,

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gender or ethnicity. We see potential. They are one of ten

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school bands chosen to play at the inauguration. There has been a lot

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of talk of how we need healing and sometimes... You just have to do it.

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But as it marks the transition from Obama to Trump, America is having

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two very different conversations about race. This is the live but

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this is the life we live so it is not a conversation about race it is

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just a conversation. And tension over the issues of police killings

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and the involvement of white supremacists. Hail victory, hail our

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President. And for some, talk of a return to the good old days

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signifies nothing good at all. I think that the master has reclaimed

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his house. And even though he allowed the slaves to look after the

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house while he was on vacation, we are still in the same situation we

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have been in. Barack Obama called slavery the original sin of America.

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His presidency once held promise of redemption. That has not happened.

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Is this country enters the Trump era, the divisions between black and

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white America are felt, perhaps, more starkly than they have been in

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a generation. If there is anyone out there who

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still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible,

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tonight is your answer. That was the era of yes, we can.

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When black America seemed poised to claim a confident power apparently

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long denied. # I'm so reckless when I rocklike von she dressed # I'm so

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possess if # My daddy Alabama, my mummy Louisiana... To me it is a

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race war. You have black against white, white against black. From the

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swamps of Washington to do by you of the South. Beneath the surface of

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the post- racial society, fear. Anger. And the deep roots of a

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history still unresolved. The final week of the Obama

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presidency began with the annual commemoration for a man who gave his

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life for the civil rights struggle. America has come a long way since

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then. In New Orleans they mark his memory with a show of sartorial

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pride. Our self-esteem has grown from us knowing each other. Black

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men can see each other in a greater image that has been achieved. In

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this respect, the Obamas scandal free tenure at the White House has

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had huge symbolic value. So you think about a boy like... How old

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are you? You know who the President is? Um, Barack Obama. Do you know

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who the president was before him? See? All he has ever known is Obama.

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His life, like this, it is normal. It is normal for him to see a black

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man at the head of the country. A symbol is a powerful thing. The very

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fact of his unlikely presidency has expanded the concept of what is

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possible for millions of Americans, black and white. But when it comes

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to cold hard statistics, the tree sears that if you are black in

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America the odds are still stacked against you. In 2013, the median net

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worth of a white American household was over $140,000. The black

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households, that figure was $11,000. That is 13 times less. Under Obama

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the wealth gap has widened. Travel up the Mississippi from New Orleans

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and you come to Baton Rouge, one of the most divided cities in the

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United States. For some children of inner-city high schools, the

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education they got on the streets can see more important than what is

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on offer in the classroom. You can go out there tomorrow, have your

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pistol, shoot somebody and you end up in prison for the rest of your

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life. Slim reed is a former gang leader turned activist whose mission

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now is to stop young black men following his footsteps. It is 2017

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and you are still walking around looking and acting exactly like

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slaves. And the world is looking at you as animals. Why? Because you

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live that lifestyle. Barack Obama often told black Americans they had

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to take responsibility for the problems in their own community.

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Silky agrees, up to a point. I am trying to bring a message to black

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people that have black lives do not matter to black people than it

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should not matter to anybody else. That is my message. Like lives have

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to matter to black people first before they matter to the rest of

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the world. Black lives matter focus on police killing but I need to look

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at what we are doing to ourselves and try to resurrect as from the

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spiritual depth we are really for I can worry about the two or 300

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killings taking place by law enforcement. We are dying by the

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thousands and Aaron hands so I am focusing on that and then I stay on

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that. We poverty. I have grown up in poverty and I became a gang leader

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because I was starving. If I am in this house and do not have anything

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to eat I would roll before I style. So when I am finding out that I do

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not have the necessities of life, I will go out and get those

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necessities, regardless of what the world says. I need to survive, just

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like anybody else. There are also inequalities that are systemic and

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ingrained. If you were black you are more likely to be arrested, get a

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longer jail sentence and more likely to be shot dead by police. Obama

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only engaged with this issue late in his presidency and then with limited

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results. Like quarterbacks on the team of white supremacy does not

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help us. The judge have to abide by the law. As far as black folks on

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the whole, politically, when you do the research and you look at the

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numbers then if you and I wanted to get married, we could get married.

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The gays accomplished something, you see what I am saying? I can not

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always just pressure it because at the end of the day we did not ask

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for anything. We did not want to put that burden on the black man in the

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White House. We did not want to give him that burden. If you do not ask

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for anything you get nothing so you cannot be disappointment --

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disappointed. So you say that the black community gave Barack Obama a

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free pass? Exactly. He is one of us. It is over 60 years since the

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Supreme Court ruled that segregation in public education was

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unconstitutional. Ten years later the Civil Rights act outlawed

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discrimination based on race. But today in cities across America it is

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all too obvious that they factored segregation is still very much in

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effect. -- de facto segregation. If you look at a map of bat on Rouge

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you will see that this route here, Florida Street, is a stark dividing

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line. Everything to the north is overwhelmingly black, everything to

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the south is mostly white. Now I spent time in divided cities. Places

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like Baghdad in Beirut, places where they have recently had a war. There

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has not been a war here since the 1860s when the North is thought the

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credit that is the over the issue of slavery. But last summer it felt

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like war was not far away. The killing of a black man, the latest

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in a string of fatal police shootings caught on camera. They are

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shooting right now and there is an officer down. Two days later at a

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black lives matter protest a man opened fire on police killing five.

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Not long after that, more officers were shot dead in Baton Rouge. This

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is a race war, to me. You have black against white, one against black.

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There would not be so many black people against white people, I

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think, if was not so the police brutality. That was pushing that

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situation with some of the people. Nefertiti is part of a growing

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movement of radical black activists. During the black lives matter

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protests she says she too found herself on the receiving end of some

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heavy-handed treatment from the police. Going on a protest down town

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to City Hall and police officers approached me, they'd dislocated my

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shoulder and fractured my finger. More recently and I am recovering

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from that, but all was basically because I am part of a new Black

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Panther party and they assumed that the chapter out there protesting at

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the time, that I was a part of that chapter, but I was not. It is

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perhaps ironic that relations between the police and the black

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community reached their lowest point in a generation during the final

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years of the Obama presidency. The killings by police and a lack of

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prosecutions of officers involved has entrenched a sense here of a

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force that does not serve and protect one that operate with

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impunity. Everybody is an age, OK? We are waiting on a decision from

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the Department of Justice. People want justice and they want

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transparency. So that is the main thing that folks want. Transparency

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and justice. Recently we have had a shooting with ours and sterling

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about two blocks down the street. We had police killings on the highway

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and we had a flood. So our community is broken. We are trying to get back

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together. The Baton Rouge police department is

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acutely aware of the need to rebuild trust. To that end, Sergeant Riley

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Harbour is dispatched of a weekend to do a spot of gardening at an

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inner City School just round the corner from where he grew up. This

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is what passes for community outreach. The citizens here have a

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right to be upset with all the different things that have happened,

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both from the civilian side and from law enforcement. We've had losses on

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both, tragic all the way round, but we still have to come together

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because we've still got to live. Baton Rouge is braced for more

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trouble as it awaits the outcome of a federal investigation into the

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shooting of Alton Sterling. Nefertiti says the tensions between

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the black community and the police have brought an old enemy out into

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the open. Last year, about seven months ago, the Klansmen, the Ku

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Klux Klan Aryan nation put flyers out recruiting members and this was

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particularly right after all than sterling was killed, they had it on

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the news that they were putting notes on people's doors, going

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through the neighbourhood. Nefertiti and Silky Slim rang the number on a

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leaflet, it went through to a pre-recorded message which had

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clearly been updated in the past few days.

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Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail our victory!

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Not long after the election, a group of white nationalists gathered to

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discuss the new political landscape. The final speaker was Richard

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Spencer who coined the term Albright, a movement associated with

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Donald Trump's former campaign CEO Steve Bannon, who wasn't present but

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who is now one of the most powerful men in the White House. America was

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until this past generation a white country designed for ourselves and

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our posterity. This then is the context in which

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Donald Trump has taken office. America's new president has

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disavowed support from over racists but still in Baton Rouge the

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tranquil surroundings of university leg near the college campus belies a

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sense of unease. Tina Lange and meet Lewis Morris are here for a photo

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shoot. They're expecting their first child in March. They want to

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remember this special time. But they fear their unborn daughter's future

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may not necessarily be brighter than their own. We don't know how it will

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be for African-Americans now to four years down the line, six years down

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the line. Even when Obama was in office you seen officers were

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killing young black males and really weren't getting penalised for it.

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Now that it's Trump, you never know. It'll be hard for us to get those

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opportunities and have that freedom to get the best education and to get

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the best jobs, you know what I'm saying? Just because of our race and

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the perspective that others have on us. That's what I'm afraid of for my

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child. Here in the south the shadow of the

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plantations, the memory of Jim Crow, of America's original sin still loom

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large. It takes more than eight years to dismantle a social system

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that's been in place before the country was even established, before

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the country talked about creating some people equal and allowing some

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to have the pursuit of life and liberty and happiness, they had

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individuals that were even considered human, they were treated

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as chattel. The situation you're talking about is normative for

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America so to see something other than that is to see something

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radically different from actually what America is and how it came into

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being, which is deeply, deeply antiblack. Barack Obama's legacy is

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a subject of fierce disagreement but radically different is not an

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assessment often applied to his record in office. For some the

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election of Donald Trump looks less like a sudden change of direction

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than a resumption of the status quo. I look at it like Master has

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reclaimed his house, I'm at Master's place, I know my place, I'm in the

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field, I don't try to get up to the house, know what I'm saying? You're

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talking about slavery here. Of course. That's the dynamic you're

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talking about. It's the oppression. You're saying it never really went

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away? Know, even though master allows the slaves to look after the

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house when he was on vacation we are still in the same fight that we've

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been in for the last 245 years. In all seriousness, there is a huge

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legacy of slavery but you can't say things haven't changed since the

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1860s, since the nineteen sixties? Definitely. There's no forced free

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labour here with the slaves, right? And what America has been successful

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in doing is creating these slums and ghettos, putting you in these areas

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and then making the police still oversee you like we're still on the

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Plantation. So what goes on in the white community don't happen in the

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black community, so when the police come here they say get up against

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the car, I've got rights, shut the hell up, it's a different treatment.

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It's still like the overseers overseeing the plantation, we just

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don't have to go to work. Next up, from Louisiana, it's the

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high school marching band. Inauguration. After the speech in

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the oath of office there's a moment in the spotlight for the high school

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marching band Louisiana. Then the parade moves on. And so America

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begins a new chapter in its long book on race, weaving in the history

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of slavery, on segregation with that of Martin Luther King and of the

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Obama era. From my experience, I think the

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American dream is still alive for anyone who wants to reach for it.

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There are African-Americans in all areas of life that are quite, quite

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successful. I think that the road may be a little narrower and a

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little more Stoney at times, but I think the American dream is still

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achievable for everyone if you work hard and live right and play by the

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rolls then success happens. Jailer, 11 years old, has known no other

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president but Obama. For her and her friend, President Trump was at first

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a frightening prospect. We was all thinking about, like, what if he

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sends us back to Africa? That was your first thought, that you might

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not be allowed to be an American any more? Yes. That sounds like a scary

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thought? Yeah. At first we were all, like, we went through withdrawal and

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we were saying it's going to happen, but we talked about it one day at

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school and we was, like, it can happen unless everybody says yes to

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it. Jaylen is ambitious. After Harvard Law School she wants to

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become America's first black female present, but... I think he is going

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to try and make everything harder for blacks to get in, everything

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harder for Hispanics to get in, everything harder for anybody of

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colour to try to do all be something. Jaylen has one of those

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teachers you remember for the rest of your life, someone who helps you

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make sense of a bewildered ring world. I think that people were sick

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of talking about race. White people or black people or everyone? I would

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say from my experience mostly white people. It's overwhelming, I can

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understand that from the perspective where you've never had to deal with

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it, you don't understand why we keep bringing it up over and over again.

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And I think that especially with the heightened sense of awareness of

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police shootings and police brutality and the injustices being

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so blatantly put in your face because of social media, white

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people started to have a backlash and they started to think that no

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one is representing me, everyone is talking about black people and not

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talking about me, so how can I make it somewhat about me?

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And so the age of Donald Trump began And so the age of Donald Trump began

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as all presidencies usually do with a promise of concealer retreat.

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To rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people.

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But Donald Trump's opponents fear quite the opposite. There are those

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who fear that the new president is a man with a vindictive streak who may

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use the power of his office to lash out at those who opposed him. I'd

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like to punch him in the face, I'll tell you. Many liberals...

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Especially white liberals see Trump as an extra ten shall threat. To the

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founding principles of America. -- existential threat to the founding

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principles of America. But from the black perspective things look a lift

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little different. It doesn't scare me, I don't have an issue with Trump

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or whatever he does because everyone gets in there and does the same

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things. When black America contemplates the

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prospect of a hostile perhaps even oppressive state it shrugs and asks,

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what else is new? Well, while some of us

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were shivering on Thursday, for others, for example

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across the North of Scotland,

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In 2008 Barack Obama called slavery 'America's original sin'. But how much of a difference did his eight-year presidency make to the lives of African-Americans? And what does Donald Trump's election say about attitudes to race in the United States today? Gabriel Gatehouse reports from Louisiana.