Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s attempts to sheer Black votes from the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton, has garnered the attention of national Black leaders, including his fellow New Yorker, Rev. Al Sharpton, who says Trumps tactics “insults the intelligence” of Black voters.
“I think that to reach out to the Black community when you’re not discussing any details of the policies that you propose—and second, when you don’t put out your record with the Black community (which includes discrimination lawsuits on his housing) is to insult our intelligence to say we should try something new,” Sharpton said in an interview with the Trice Edney News Wire. “He’s not new. He’s got decades of history that he can’t explain.
“Since he’s running as a business man, he should also show us where his business is and how they have worked with Blacks. Where are the contractors? Where are the subcontractors that he dealt with in his business? Where are the executives in the Trump organization?”
Trump skipped major national Black conferences, including the NAACP, the National Urban League and the National Association of Black Journalists, this summer. Then he began appealing to Black voters while standing before vastly White audiences.
“What the hell do you have to lose?” Trump appealed to Black voters as he stood in front of predominately White audiences in late August and early September. That question became a common refrain as he pointed to crime and unemployment in Black communities. Trump then took his message to Black pastors, including a Black church in Detroit on Sept. 3.
Meanwhile attempts by the Trice Edney News Wire to obtain clarity on Trump’s own economic and Black participation records in his multi-billion dollar corporation have gone unheeded. Two questions requesting information on Trump’s Black hiring and contracting records and why he declined to attend the major Black summer conferences went unanswered by Omarosa Manigault, Trump’s director of African American outreach.
The questions went unheeded as Manigault, instead of giving Trump’s record as requested, sent a statement, Sept. 7, attacking Clinton and the Democratic Party, generally stating that they have taken Black voters for granted.
“We know our message is resonating as Black voters realize that they have been taken for granted. They see unemployment on the rise and home ownership on the decline. African American youth feel that the Dems have completely turned their backs on them. Look at what’s happening in Chicago, President Obamas’ hometown, nearly half of the young Black men are neither in school nor employed. For far too long African Americans have been loyal to the Democratic Party but unfortunately the party has not been loyal to them!” she wrote. “What can she possibly offer young Black men in Chicago that President Obama could not get accomplish in the last seven years? Let me answer that for you—more of the same! It’s time for a change. Enough empty promises! Young People are dying in the streets of Chicago every day and yet she wants us to continue down the same path that we’ve been going? It makes no sense. Someone has to stand up and fight for those who the Dems have turned their backs on. Trump will fight for you!”
Actually, despite the fact that the Black unemployment rate is still twice that of Whites, it is not on the rise as Manigault states. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Black unemployment rate is at 8.1%, the lowest since President Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009 at which time the unemployment rate was 14.4%.
Manigault continued, saying Trump “is committed to earning the African American vote with policies that will help with job creation, school choice and making the community safe. In terms of strategy, we will continue to work with faith leaders, churches, civic organizations, our HBCU network as well as our community partners to first bring attention to conditions that the Dems have swept under the rug and address these issues head on in order to improve in the Black community.”
Clinton is recovering from a bout of pneumonia this week as her husband, former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama are on the campaign trail for her. She is expected to return to the campaign later this week.
While avoiding the questions about Trump’s record, Manigault insists that Trump is sheering Black votes from Clinton. But while Trump’s Black support has risen slightly from one percent in some recent independent polls, most show Clinton still holding fast to more than 90% of the Black vote.
Leaders of major Black organizations point to Trump’s record, saying they are not convinced he could ever win a significant Black following no matter what he says. They say that’s largely because of his record. The housing discrimination lawsuit mentioned by Sharpton refers to a 1975 settlement of a federal housing discrimination case against Trump in which his refusal to rent to Blacks while renting to White tenants in the same units was documented.
Black press coverage of the case in the New York Amsterdam News headlined the settlement story, “Minorities win housing suit,” and reported that “qualified Blacks and Puerto Ricans now have the opportunity to rent apartments owned by Trump Management,” according to a Jan. 23 Washington Post story by Michael Kranish and Robert O’Harrow Jr.
As questions about Trump’s current Black hiring and economic justice records go unheeded, other non-partisan Black organizational leaders also scrutinize Trump’s record in order to determine what he would do in the White House.
Michael Grant, president/CEO of the National Bankers Association, an organization of predominately Black-owned banks, compares the Trump candidacy to that of two-term President George W. Bush.
“If the country really wants to see what a Donald Trump presidency would produce, it need only to go back a few years and see what George W. Bush produced, which was nothing but disaster,” Grant said.
“George Bush led us to a war that was absolutely disastrous in the loss of human life and the cost to the U. S. tax payer. He also drove our economy to the brink of collapse. This happened because this man did not have the command of the subject matter. There was nothing in his background that suggested that he was studious. Donald Trump is not studious. Nothing suggests that he has a disciplined approach to problem solving. He just blusters out things and says whatever hits him for the moment, a knee-jerk reaction.
George Bush was very much the same way. He just did not understand what a powerful position he was stepping into and he didn’t understand how complicated the job of president really is.
“This is really not about a Democrat or a Republican. It’s about choosing the best person to lead this country during these tumultuous times.”
National Urban League President Marc Morial says despite Trump’s recent appeal for Black votes, he has shown no interest in the National Urban League, a 105-year-old Black economic justice organization, which offered presidential candidates multiple opportunities for briefings and to give their perspectives on vital economic and civil rights issues beginning last year.
“We invited Donald Trump to such an opportunity. He did not respond,” Morial recounted. “We invited him again to give a 25 minute speech and not have to answer any questions. He did not respond. In 2016, we again invited him to come to our conference in Baltimore, Maryland.
Again he declined. We also sent him a 32-question questionnaire, which probes his thinking on issues not only in the Black community but also America’s urban community and America’s young people and he did not respond.
“Mrs. Clinton responded to all of the above. I believe it’s not difficult to diagnose problems. What’s more challenging is to offer sound, serious solutions. And that’s what the voters are thinking about. And they’re not going to be fooled and tricked and bamboozled by what I would call hollow talk or long diagnosis or insulting characterizations of the community.”
Sharpton summed up Trump’s Black justice record even more concisely: “I never saw him stand up one time on a Black issue, and that’s when he was on the other side.”