Business Exchange by William Reed
Ask anyone what they think of Donald Trump and you are guaranteed one of two reactions: “He is great” (I admire his guts, love his strength and honesty) or “he is awful” (he is a disgusting, self-serving bigot and demagogue). When he said, “What have you got to lose?” During the campaign Trump didn’t move many African Americans. He got less than 8 percent of the black vote, while Hillary Clinton ran away with 88 percent, winning 94 percent of black women and 80 percent of black men.
American voters are far more pessimistic about progress in race relations under Donald Trump. Nearly half of U.S. voters (46 percent) expect Trump’s election will lead to worse race relations, while just 25 percent say they will improve, 26 percent say there will be no difference. And, roughly three-quarters of blacks (74 percent) expect race relations to worsen under Trump’s presidency; while just 5 percent expect them to improve (17 percent expect little change).
Will it be business as usual for blacks under a Trump administration? As Trump moves into the Oval Office, too Republicans predict Trump will be a sort of CEO-president, setting grand strategy for the country. Blacks in business and entrepreneurial ventures expect low taxes, light regulation and free markets where capitalists can start and thrive with a minimum of government involvement. Who has Trump’s ear to set strategy toward his “new deal for black America”. The billionaire rarely risks out to talk with and to blacks. In his campaigning Trump talked about blacks’ plight; criticizing years of Democratic rule for leaving black America behind. “American politics is caught in a, time loop. We keep electing the same people over and over and over.” Addressing black issues Trump had said: “My “deal is grounded in three promises: safe communities, great education and high-paying jobs.”
It’s time blacks ignore paid Democratic operatives and engage “new thinking.” Trump dissed the black/Democratic alliance: “And every day, the same people, getting rich off our broken system, say we can’t change and we can’t try anything new, because it’s not good for them. I have a message for all the doubters in Washington: America’s future belongs to the dreamers, not the cynics and not the critics. Too many African-Americans have been left behind.” Trump called for incentives to move companies into blighted neighborhoods to bolster employment, help African-Americans get better access to credit and push cities to declare “blighted communities” disaster areas to help rebuild infrastructure.
So, what can African Americans expect from a Trump administration? Who is helping Trump set goals and strategy that affect Black America? Why aren’t there more blacks speaking to and about “black issues”? With Black Americans suspicions of Trump will he seek to attain, or exceed, the “diversity levels” of the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations remain? Recently, the HNIC in the Trump clique brought Jim Brown to a meeting at Trump Tower with Trump pegged as a discussion about issues facing the African-American community. Cleveland Pastor Darrell Scott orchestrated the President-elect’s meeting with the Hall of Fame running back. Former “Apprentice” star Omarosa Manigault sat in on the meeting in which Trump gave a “verbal commitment” to Brown’s Amer-I-Can program. For decades, Brown has been active in inner-cities with Amer-I-Can programs to “empower individuals to take charge of their lives and achieve their full potential.” While Jim Brown and Don King are great Photo ops” Trump needs some Jesse Lee Peterson, J.C. Watts and Claude Anderson-types too.
If Trump is smart he’ll do all he can to erase the stigma of the racially divisive 2016 campaign. One way of dealing with that image will be deploying African American surrogates in high-profile positions that signal diversity. Will we see African American Republicans talking about conservative social policies in ways that are connected and resonate in black communities In the White House and across the party, Republicans have to cultivate blacks that embrace Trump’s “try something new” philosophy and scuttle the myth that “race is irrelevant” and employ “pro-black” messages acknowledging that race plays a major role in how people live their lives.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com
Photo credit: AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)