Donald Jr. and Eric Trump are planning to open up “plantation-style” luxury hotels in one of the poorest neighborhood in America, “surrounded by cotton and soybean fields,” The Washington Post reported.
It reminds one of the pre-Civil War era, doesn’t it?
In June, the Trump Organization, now managed by the sons of President Donald Trump, announced it would debut new hotels in Cleveland, Bolivar County in Mississippi — home to 12,000 people — and two other towns amid the cotton fields, starting off with a 100-room Scion hotel.
The project is titled “American Idea” and in a partnership with local owners, two Comfort Inns and a Rodeway Inns, will be reopened but brought up to the “Trump standards,” which according to the Post, means “designed to replicate an antebellum plantation.”
Trump’s New York-based hotel company typically owns luxury properties and golf courses in high-priced areas. So, it’s surprising this new venture is being undertaken in this struggling corner of Mississippi where new businesses are hard to recruit.
The Bolivar County is 64 percent black. Its city, Cleveland, lists 53.3 percent of children living in poverty and according to a 2015 census data, 59 percent of homes make less than $35,000 a year. What’s worse, the closure of factories during recession left citizens desperate for work, with the rate of unemployed black men being eight times that of white men.
People in the depressed area are in dire need of jobs and the state is desperately trying to make money from tourism and is capitalizing on their most famous asset: the birthplace of blues music.
So the town needs hotels. The Trumps have apparently noted this distinction and are marketing their hotels as places where the blues can be celebrated — a ploy that some residents believe is an attempt to profit off the music invented by slaves while working in Mississippi’s cotton fields.
“It shows he really doesn't have a conscience. It's about money,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss), who is an African-American and represents the area, in a phone interview.
Now, its people are faced with the difficult decision of choosing between their principals and their economy.
The majority black community may not be willing to spend its money in Trump-named hotels, considering the president has attacked black NFL players for kneeling, attacked the widow of a black soldier, attacked a black Congresswoman and expressed sympathy to white supremacists — to name just a few of the president’s racist moves.
“I think if the Trumps’ bottom-line profits for a hotel in the Mississippi Delta are predicated on black people coming and spending money, I think they are in serious trouble,” said Rep. Thompson.
Expanding Trump brands also gives rise to ethical implications, like conflict of interest as it could involve new investors — who will inevitably financially benefit Trump after he exits the presidency, not to mention easy approval of local government.
In fact, even now, the project is already expected to receive city and county tax breaks over seven years.
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Carlos Barria