Hey Donald Trump, African Americans Heard You Loud and Clear

Kenyatta: Trump wants to know what African Americans have to lose by taking a chance on him. The answer: Everything.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a roundtable meeting with the Republican Leadership Initiative in his offices at Trump Tower in New York, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a roundtable meeting with the Republican Leadership Initiative in his offices at Trump Tower in New York, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.

Late last week, in his umpteenth “foot in mouth” moment, Donald J. Trump rhetorically asked African Americans a question that in my mind perfectly synthesized this election and Trump’s used car salesman pitch. “What do you have to lose by trying something new like Donald Trump?” 

The short answer is: everything.

And his message isn’t so new. Trump’s descending escalator entrance into Presidential politics is a telling metaphor for a bottom-feeder campaign that has been based on the absolute worst America has to offer. He has danced on the line of, or outright peddled, one hateful and fact-free idea after another. His entire campaign has been based on stoking racial animus and yes, this late and latest effort of “African American outreach” is just another backhanded example. His speech, which I can only assume sent the hearts of Stacey Dash, Don King and Omarosa all aflutter, was for most African Americans yet another insult from a campaign entirely based on them.

His vile depiction of all black people as “refugees” surrounded by “burning cars” as a senior advisor put it, is not only factually incorrect, but it’s a narrative we’ve become more than accustomed to and we knew exactly what he meant. When he leans in on misleading “statistics” about African American youth in the workforce (which also conveniently ignores the fact that most of them are students), we know what he means. When he suggests African American communities only produce “poverty, joblessness, failing schools, and broken homes,” we know what he means. When he says he doesn’t know anything about David Duke or white supremacists, we know what he means — and so do his supporters. Donald Trump does not care about the African American community and his condescending and racist remarks make it strikingly clear we’d stand to lose a lot in a Trump administration.

Here are just a few ways communities and people of color would lose in a Trump Presidency.

  • We’d lose all the progress that’s been made and that needs to be made still on criminal justice reform. Trump believes Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization and that police misconduct is a narrative pushed by Democrats and the media.
  • We’d lose and go backwards on fighting poverty. Trump believes “wages are too high” and has never met an overseas factory he didn’t like, though he now talks about bringing jobs back to America. He could start today with the factories that make his suits, ties, and furniture.
  • We’d lose on civil rights and voting rights. Trump has repeatedly called this election rigged and has falsely pointed to Philadelphia as the epicenter of this rigging in Pennsylvania; another cynical dog whistle. Trump has also promoted violence against black people (and people of color generally) at his rallies — imagine if he were President.

Trump is running a campaign of hate and division. It doesn’t matter how times he replaces his campaign managers or how many “on message” speeches he gives from teleprompters because, frankly, his message is the problem. No one man or woman can fix our country’s problems alone; we have to each do our small part. That collective push by citizens, business, and government for a more perfect union and for stronger communities is what will continue to make us great, not cheap one-liners from a megalomaniac billionaire.*

*We still haven’t seen his taxes so I can’t confirm he is an actual billionaire.

Malcolm Kenyatta is a local political consultant and a community leader who sits on the boards of numerous Philadelphia nonprofits. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention garnering just under 82,000 votes — the second highest vote total in the state.