Unity, “America first,” historic unemployment and rising wealth. These were just a few of the topics covered in the recent State of the Union address by President Donald Trump. In the annual tradition of addressing both the American people and the members of Congress, the President spoke of “a new tide of optimism sweeping through our lands.” With numerous examples such as small businesses like Staub manufacturing expanding their company along with hiring new workers, and everyday Americans making up the audience, President Trump delivered a message to everyone, which says, America is back.


To start off the address, the President noted the current unemployment rate, as well as stating that African American unemployment was at its lowest in history. However, are these claims accurate? According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, unemployment has indeed dropped from 4.9% in January of 2016 to 4.1% in 2018. Additionally, African American unemployment has also dropped from 8.9% in January of 2016, to its lowest ever recorded of 6.8% in December of 2017. Yet, during the address when the President was sharing this news, only 1 out of the total 19 members of the Congressional Black Caucus applauded upon hearing this, with the rest thanking Obama for the record, rather than Trump. Although the numbers have been gradually falling by an average of .4% since 2012, it wasn’t until the year of 2017 when the average unemployment of African Americans was roughly 7%, the number which we’re currently seeing now.


Despite historic unemployment, more has to be done in order to further support African American communities such as rebuilding the slum like inner cities. For instance, rebuilding the infrastructure and communities of Chicago should be a top priority for the current administration since the total amount of homicides equated to over 650 just last year. That equals around 2 homicides per day. If we want to strengthen America and further support the African American community, this would be the place to start.


President Trump also reported that 2.4 million new jobs have been created, with over 200,000 of those coming from the manufacturing industry. According to CNN, these numbers are also relatively accurate. The President then moved on to discuss the tragedies that have occured in our country over the last year, such as the unfortunate Vegas shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the California wildfires. Despite this, the President stated that these events showed the courage of the American people as heroes in the navy and fire department helped save lives.


“We endured floods and fires and storms,” said Trump. “But through it all, we have seen the beauty of America’s soul, and the steel in America’s spine”


President Trump also called upon members of Congress to come together in order to properly serve the people. “Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people. This is really the key, these are the people we were elected to serve.” This isn’t the first time the President has called for unity. Going as far back as his election acceptance speech in 2016, then President-elect Trump stated, “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division, we have to get together. So, all Republicans, and Democrats, and Independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.”


The President also discussed the topic of gang violence and immigration. In regards to the MS-13 gang [a Central American based criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles during the 1980’s, but operates in at least 40 states], President Trump stated that I.C.E and his administration are removing them from the country “by the thousands.” Although the exact numbers are not yet known, it appears that nearly 400 MS-13 gang members have been deported in the administration’s first 5 months, along with 1,095 confirmed arrests.


Trump then turned his attention to the situation with North Korea, stating, “No regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea.” President Trump then recognized the family of Otto Warmbier, and North Korean defector Ji Seong Ho, whose story truly shows the power of the human spirit. Using these witnesses to North Korea’s brutal nature, President Trump called to strengthen America’s resolve to impose further sanctions on the hostile nation. “North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland. We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from ever happening.”


Love him or hate him, President Trump makes clear he wants to put America first and truly focus on America’s problems. With a surprising 75% approval rating from viewers, the people of America seem to agree that “Our State of the Union is strong because our people are strong.”


Photo contributed by Redlands Bulldog photographer, Haile West.