I’ve spent hours trying to figure out how to condense this article from the would-be thousand-page piece to something manageable that folks would read. Really, I could spend hours writing about why Trump’s speech in Wisconsin yesterday is insulting to African-Americans. But given that most folks have better things to do with their time than read about Donald Trump’s ridiculous and feigned approach to court Black voters, I decided to reduce my thoughts to a top 5 list.
- A Day Late and a Dollar Short.
The title of Terry McMillian’s best selling book perfectly sums up Trump’s relationship with Black voters. Plainly stated, Trump’s effort to woo Black voters is poorly time and inadequate. Failing in almost every national and regional poll, Donald Trump decided that he should finally address African-American voters. Apparently, someone on his team recently helped him come to the realization that Blacks are the nation’s most reliable and powerful voting block. We are responsible for the success Hillary Clinton had in the Democratic primary against Bernie Sanders and the huge victory that Obama had in 2008 and 12. None of these facts mattered to Donald Trump when he entered the GOP primary over a year ago. He has spent little, if any time, addressing issues of concern to African-Americans and declined an opportunity to speak at the NAACP national conference. Yet, he has the unmitigated gall to suggest that Democrats take us for granted. That’s worse than the pot calling the kettle black! Sorry, Mr. Trump you can’t ignore us for an entire election cycle and at the 11th hour expect that we will come to your rescue. Even your white male privilege isn’t strong enough to convince African Americans that you care about us and the issues that are important to our community.
- Law and Order Ain’t Our Thing
IronicallyTrump used his Wisconsin “Law and Order” speech to court African American voters. The fact that he did this is evidence that he is out of touch with issues of race and inequality. The very words “Law and Order,” slogans made popular by George Wallace and Richard Nixon, are chilling to most African Americans. These phrases feed into the hate-filled narrative that thugs, illegal aliens and monsters are destroying our neighborhoods and the only solution is tougher laws and enforcement of those laws. This of course translates into more arrest and incarceration of Blacks, which means, a no vote for Trump and his “law and order” or should I say, “lock them up” approach to the issues of crime and the criminal justice system.
- The Company You Keep Matters
Donald Trump says he wants African-Americans to vote for him at a rally that by all accounts was more than 90 percent white, in a state that has an African-American population of 6 percent and on a stage with former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani and governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker. The company you keep matters. Putting aside how polarizing Trump is by himself, adding Walker and Giuliani makes for a toxic mix that is repulsive to many African-Americans. Both of these elected officials have taken positions antithetical to Blacks. Whether it’s Walker’s efforts to eviscerate public unions in Wisconsin or Giuliani’s constant rants on Fox about African-Americans, these men help make the case as to why Trump’s appeal to Black voters is dead on arrival. The thought of these two men as advisors to Trump on issues of race is beyond comprehension and quite frankly, scary.
- Your Track Record Matters
Trump said in his Wisconsin speech that African Americans have suffered under Democrats. Let’s fact check that statement and juxtapose it to what Trump has done for African Americans. The reality is that under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama’s presidencies, African Americans have faired far better than under the “famed” Reagan and failed Bush administrations. This crass and cynical cherry picking of stats is more fiction than reality. Studies that measure how Blacks have fared under GOP versus Democratic presidential administrations presidents including the first two years of Obama’s show that Blacks have increased their annual average income, including Black family income, employment and have decreased their poverty rate. At the same time, arrest rates have decline significantly faster under Democrats than Republicans.
Compare this to the track record of Donald Trump on African Americans. Let’s not forget how he singled out a Black man at a rally in January calling him “my African American.” He naively thought by calling out this gentleman he somehow proved that he was on the right side of the race issue. This crude statement is only one in a series of actions and words that prove that Trump’s claimed affinity for African-Americans is fake. Dating back to the early 1970s, he and the family business were sued by the Department of Justice for housing discrimination in their Brooklyn apartment buildings. Rather than comply with the government’s mandate to end the “no Blacks@ in my building policies, he countered with a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the government and claimed reverse discrimination. Predictably, his lawsuit was deemed frivolous and dismissed.
Fast forward to the 1980s, Trump flamed the fires of racial resentment in the Central Park jogger attack. He took out $85,000 worth of ads encouraging the death penalty and resisting pleas for peace from then Mayor Ed Koch. In the 1990s, Trump made the now infamous statement, “Black guys counting my money, I hate it….I think that’s guy’s lazy. And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks.” Trump initially admitted he made the statements and then later flip-flopped as he does on so many of his incendiary statements.
I could go on and on with examples of Trump’s record on African-Americans. Suffice it to say, it’s bad, “bigly” bad. And a pre-prepared speech by his handlers won’t change his record nor cause African-Americans to vote for him. Sorry, the one percent African American polling number is already a gift.
- You Can’t Dawg Obama and Court Blacks
Some things are so obvious they don’t need to be stated. You would think Donald Trump would understand that African-Americans are not going to reward him for his bad behavior towards Barack Obama. To the contrary, we are going to make him pay for his persistent and insidious attacks on the first African-American president. If you know anything about African-Americans, you wouldn’t know that we protect our own. And even though Obama is president to all Americans, he will always and forever be our treasured father, brother, son and colloquially, our “homie.”
Obama 97% of the Black vote in 2008 and 93% in 2012, the year that for the first time in history a higher percentage of African-Americans than Whites voted in a presidential election. That historical voter turn out was because of Barack Obama and what his presidency has and continues to mean for African-Americans. Today, Obama’s approval rating amongst Blacks is 91% and at an all time high of 54% percent amongst all voters. I say all this to say, Black people love Obama and they don’t take kindly to Trump’s personal attacks on him, his birthplace, his religion. And the “birther” movement seals the deal against any meaningful support of Trump by Blacks.
No doubt, many in the African American community, including me, see the entire “birther” movement as a new form of racism. Asserting that Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore ineligible to be president is designed to stoke racial resentment and hatred. It’s has divided the country and has emboldened White Supremacist like David Dukes, who Trump has troubled disavowing in a series of interviews.
It’s against this backdrop that Trump so boldly asks African-Americans to believe that he will work for racial equality and justice. Given his blatant racist attacks directed at one of the most revered African American man in the country, how can his statements be interpreted as anything but hollow promises devoid of any truth. Again, to quote one of my favorite artists, “Boy, Bye.” In other words, Trump is wasting his time courting the African-American vote. Until he apologizes to Obama, disassociates himself from Giuliani and the likes of him, demonstrates through actions and not vacuous slogans a commitment to racial equality, his time is better spent trying to convince gold star parents that he respects them. And, as we all know, that’s not going to well.