A few weeks ago, Donald Trump made the statement that he was asking the African-American community to honor him with their vote. While the Republican nominee for president was complimented for his turn of phrase, he was criticized for making the reach-out to largely white audiences. According to a recent NBC News Poll, Trump is polling at only 8% with African-Americans vs. Hillary Clinton at 87%. Obviously, he needs to deliver his message of economic revival directly to the black community, particularly the black communities located in economically struggling urban areas.
To that end, the Trump campaign arranged for the candidate to make several high profile visits to urban black neighborhoods. On Friday September 2, Trump visited the Greater Exodus Baptist Church in North Philadelphia where he held a round table meeting with fourteen black civic, religious and business leaders. The fourteen individuals who met with Trump gave him high marks. “He does not see himself as a racist and neither did the people around the table,” said business woman and Deputy Chair of the Pennsylvania GOP Renee Amoore. “We’re going to do the best we can to have a Republican win in Pennsylvania, which hasn’t happened in a long time.”, Amoore told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
On Saturday September 3, Trump traveled to Detroit where he visited the Great Faith Ministries Church and conducted a one-one interview with Bishop Wayne T. Jackson to air on the Impact Network. Following the interview, Trump had the opportunity to participate in a church service and directly address the congregation. In his remarks, Trump said that he was “here to listen” and that he wants to help them “rebuild Detroit” to “make the city the economic envy of the world”. The much heralded Detroit outreach trip also included touring certain economically challenged Detroit neighborhoods with former GOP rival and Detroit native son Dr. Ben Carson. The neighborhood tour included a visit to Dr. Carson’s childhood home in Southwest Detroit.
Interestingly enough, now that Donald Trump has made several proactive efforts to proactively court the African-American vote, the sincerity of his outreach is being questioned. As anticipated, the Black Lives Matter protesters showed up en masse in both Philadelphia and Detroit. In addition, Trump received criticism for his visits from the respective leadership of both cities. Detroit’s Mayor Mike Duggan (D) in a conversation with the Detroit Free Press described Trump as “the most phony major party nominee that I’ve seen in my lifetime, and that’s why we’re skeptical.”
The City of Brotherly Love did not exactly throw out the welcome mat for Trump, who by the way is a graduate of Philadelphia’s University of Pennsylvania. In fact, local leaders City Council President Darrell Clarke, council members Helen Gym and Maria Quinones-Sanchez, state Rep. Dwight Evans and religious leaders assembled “to discuss Trump’s divisive rhetoric, dangerous agenda and embrace of hate groups,” Clarke also accused Trump of waiting until “age 70 to begin a dialogue with blacks”. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
The media have also lambasted Trump’s recent visits to urban African-American communities. Most notably, The New York Times published an article saying Trump “having campaigned for president as a blunt provocateur, dismissing complaints of racial insensitivity as political correctness, took an uncharacteristic step on Saturday: He visited a black church for the first time and tried to blend in.” The article went on to say that “Mr. Trump is deeply unpopular with black voters and perceived by many as hostile to their community.(“Seeking Support and Invoking Faith, Donald Trump Visits a Black Church for the First Time“) Many other publications followed suit including CNN Politics which published an article titled “Trump’s Minority Outreach Off to Rough Start”. “Trump’s Minority Outreach Off to a Rough Start” USA published an article titled “Black Outreach Only a Birther Could Love”.
Donald Trump has received a lot of criticism for delivering these specific comments to the African-American community. “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs. … What the hell do you have to lose?” While his words were blunt, his point is well taken. The lion’s share of black voters has been handing over their vote to the Democratic party for generations without receiving anything in return. Donald Trump is the first Republican candidate to proactively offer them an alternative. Yet, he is being criticized for his efforts. Isn’t that hypocritical?
photo credit: Audience listens as Matt Lauer interviews Donald Trump at last night’s NBC News Forum via photopin (license); Andrew Dallos