Give Me A Break…

Adam Lawrence Dyer
3 min readJun 14, 2024


“During Jim Crow…the black family was together.” — Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL)

There is no sentence in a rational world that begins with “In Jim Crow times…” and ends with any variation on “…things were better.” If Byron Donalds’ black conservatism needs to use legal apartheid as part of the equation for black success, he might want to go back to school and learn a thing or two about his own history. These are the metaphoric “boot straps” that did nothing but trip black people up. Jim Crow set us back in the arc of moral justice by at least 100 years.

Black families being strong during Jim Crow was not because of the policy, but despite the policy. Black families surviving through lynching was not because of the threat, it was in defiance of the threat. Black families existing in the wake of the 400-year slave industry that created the institutional and generational wealth of white western modernity is not a product of that system, it is a miracle of survival.

I have nothing against black people who identify as conservative. Although I will actively and publicly push back against any people who support policies that create second or third class citizens out of women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, people with disabilities or anyone who doesn’t aspire to be or can’t physically be a white, able bodied, Christian male. If that identity is an aspirational fetish for Rep. Donalds, so be it. But framing black conservatism in relation to Jim Crow as any kind of positive force in the lives and legacies of black Americans? Give me a break!

Lurking behind Donalds’ argument is a deranged version of a black equivalent to white racial purity culture. The idea that racial integrity should be a major social and policy priority and that it relies on segregation and isolation is, to say the least, difficult. This is particularly hard to swallow in a country that grew its population based on the rape of black women by white men while simultaneously enforcing powerful miscegenation laws until 1967. But most crucially in today’s environment, making a case for racial purity and “our country” and the myth of American homogeneity is the foundation of the anti-diversity/anti-equity playbook. Donalds is serving up the “anti-woke” agenda in blackface.

The main issue is that black history is too important to play political games with…to be reduced to memes and slogans. Donald Trump can play loose and fast with facts. That is brand Trump. It is the way he keeps his fans happy and tuning in. It’s a game for him. It is ratings and crowd size. But Trump has never been black and has never cared about “the blacks” outside of his need for attention. Trump as a property developer, as a television personality and as a politician has proven time and again to be toxic to black people through his attitudes, his policies and his political alliances. This is the dangerous similarity between Donald Trump and Jim Crow: neither has ever been any kind of blessing to black people.

Black history still matters Rep. Donalds. We have not yet overcome. People like the brilliant Abby Phillip are working way too hard to actually move the dial on racial (and gender) equality to let you rewrite some kind of Jim-Crow-as-Blacktopia myth. So to quote someone who should run for president (RuPaul), “Don’t fuck it up!”


Originally published at on June 14, 2024.