Illustration for article titled In True White Savior Fashion, Trump Announces Scholarship to Save Black Student From Failing Government Schools, Only She Already Goes to a Great Charter School
Photo: Tyger Williams/Staff Photographer

It should be clear to most everybody by now that President Donald Trump has a great affinity for showing America just how popular he is among “the blacks.” This is simply to say that the man loves parading black faces around on political stages as a way of saying, “Look, Black America, look how I’m helping you so!” or, *in my Mrs. Millie voice* “I’ve always been good to you people.”

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Perhaps that’s the reason why, during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, he chose Philadelphia 4th grader Janiyah Davis to be his poster child for his school-choice movement and told the nation that she was among thousands of children who are “trapped in failing government schools” and that she would be, at last, receiving a scholarship to attend the school of her choice. The only problem? Janiyah already attends one of the most acclaimed and sought-after charter schools in her city.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Janiyah attends Math, Science and Technology Community Charter School III and has been a student there since September, months before the White House invited her and her family as honored guests to the State of the Union.

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

MaST III opened in the fall in a gleaming facility on the site of the former Crown Cork & Seal headquarters in Northeast Philadelphia, part of a charter network so popular that the school received 6,500 applications for 100 seats next year. Like all charters, it’s independently run but funded by taxpayers — meaning that Janiyah and the other 900 students at the school do not pay tuition.

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So why Trump would chose this girl, who clearly doesn’t need his help, remains somewhat of a mystery. (I mean, outside of the fact that she black and white-saviorism always makes for good optics in modern politics.) Even her mother, Northeast Philadelphia teacher’s assistant Stephanie Davis, doen’t quite seem to understand.

In an interview Friday, Davis said she received a call several weeks ago from the principal at Janiyah’s former school, Olney Christian School, saying that someone had contacted her asking about students with financial issues who “may be up for scholarships.” Janiyah attended Olney Christian, where tuistion is $5,200 for elementary students, for first through third grades. Davis said her daughter received a partial scholarship but it was still a struggle to afford. So Janiyah transferred to MaST III after she was accepted there last summer.

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So since Janiyah was already set up in a great school, it was a bit bewildering to Davis that she got a call from Washington inviting her to the U.S. capitol.

“I was kind of hesitant to answer. I thought it was a scam,” Davis said (and, in the grand scheme of things, I’m not so sure she was wrong). She said she didn’t quite believe it until she received an official email confirming that she and Janiyah were invited to the State of the Union.

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Even as she sat in front of the president among thousands, Davis said she had no idea she and Janiyah would be named during Trump’s speech. She had been told there was the possibility of her daughter’s receiving a scholarship, but “I never knew that it was going to be this big,” she said.

Here’s what Trump said when he mentioned them in his speech:

“For too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools,”

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“To rescue these students,” he said, 18 states had created scholarship programs — ”so popular that tens of thousands of students remain on a waiting list.”

“One of those students is Janiyah Davis, a fourth grader from Philadelphia. Janiyah’s mom, Stephanie, is a single parent. She would do anything to give her daughter a better future.”

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First of all, you know Davis ain’t like your average black mom if she handled all of that cordially. My mother would be ready to whoop your ass for telling all her business in front of five people she doesn’t know, let alone the whole nation. But Davis said (at least to reporters) that she was “really surprised” and “honored.”

Trump continued saying that because of a scholarship personally paid for by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the president told Janiyah Tuesday night, “you will soon be headed to the school of your choice.”

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Davis, while seemingly appreciative of the invite, says she still doesn’t understand why her daughter was selected for the scholarship.

“I don’t view MaST as a school you want to get out of at all. I view it as a great opportunity.

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Angela Morabito, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education, was also asked why Janiyah was selected despite already attending a high-performing charter school and she said, “Education freedom is about going to the best school for your child. Even the ‘best’ school, as ranked by statistics and averages, isn’t the best fit for every child. Each of the 50,000 kids waiting for a new opportunity in Pennsylvania has different needs and goals, let alone the millions of students across America stuck in a school that isn’t right for them.”

I mean, sure, that could be it. Or it could be that Trump didn’t actually need Janiyah’s acceptance of his scholarship, only her face.

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Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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