Last week, The New York Times published a conversation with Omarosa Manigault, Donald Trump’s director of African-American outreach, in which she boldly exclaimed it was the mission of the Trump campaign to receive 15 to 20 percent of the black vote.
“We still think that number is possible,” Trump’s longtime friend and reality TV cohort said assuredly.
As his sole black representation on the campaign, one certainly wonders what influence and council Omarosa has given Trump to appeal to black voters, particularly as a black woman herself, given Trump’s highly generalized illustrations of black people at his rallies, and at the last presidential debate.
“Our inner cities are a disaster,” Trump said to millions on Oct. 19 at the final debate against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. “You get shot walking to the store. THEY have no education, THEY have no jobs. I will do more for African-Americans and Latinos than she can ever do in ten lifetimes. All she has done is talk to the African-Americans and to the Latinos.”
The debate — aka Hillary’s victory lap — was nothing more than a sour reminder to the country that we’re in a bit of a conundrum. Black people are at the epicenter of that spiral. We are faced with an openly racist candidate and another who has communities of color still healing from her well-intentioned but misplaced support for dangerous policies.
Here’s the difference in the two candidates: Hillary crossed the line of generalizations with her “super predator” stunt, was taken to the town square by Black Twitter and Black Lives Matter, and learned to discuss nuance within communities — or not discuss our community at all.
But Donald hasn’t.
He still thinks that black people are a monolithic culture with group-think practices. He thinks that the community has made no progress under the daily, repetitive struggle to create individuality in a world constantly pushing assimilation. His use of “the” and “they” are othering and a large misstep each time he uses it. And while it’d be remiss not to recognize that some of Trump’s statements are highly truthful in reality, they’re created to evoke fear and not hope. The practice is off-kilter with a majority of our community.
Still, Trump’s rhetoric is influential in shaping middle America’s perception of our culture, and Omarosa’s support has only made that gaze more cloudy. So let’s break down Trump’s statement with the facts, not feelings:
“Black inner cities are a disaster”
All black people aren’t in the inner city. In fact, 52 percent of the total black population live in the suburbs of the 100 most metropolitan areas. The migration of the black community is worth another article — but it seems Trump is pulling from a statistic that shows 13 percent of the black population lives in a neighborhood with a poverty rate of at least 40 percent.
“Black people get shot walking to the store”
For centuries, the black community has endured continuous executions of black men and women. The surge of community-journalism has fueled the fire and made these barbaric executions wide-known. But on a day-to-day basis, these shootings are happening under the hands of government, and Trump won’t stop that while promising law and order and promoting stop-and-frisk policies. They are the backbone to the problem.
“Black Americans have no education”
A recent Nielsen study on African-Americans shows that only 16 percent of the overall black community has less than a high school degree, and that number shrinks to 12 percent for the 25-54 age group. In comparison, 84 to 88 percent, respectively, have a formal education ranging from high school diploma to Master’s/PhD degree.
“Black Americans have no jobs”
While the black unemployment rate staggers at 9 percent, there is a holistic emergence of black business and wealth that proves Trump’s generalization a microcosm of the community. According to Nielsen, the share of households with incomes under 25,000 have declined, while the share of blacks who make over $100,000 has increased. More importantly, “the percentage increase in the number of African-American households making $50,000 or more per year has been greater for African-Americans than it has been for the nation as a whole.”
You would think ‘sista’ Omarosa would have told Trump about the spectrum of the black experience when she was appointed his black-beard. And while disappointing, her tactics come as no surprise. To say the Trump campaign is reaching for 15 to 20 percent of the black vote means that strategically, the camp could be going for the most vulnerable part of our community — those who are living in poverty with little to no access to upward mobility because they lack education. It’s possible that Trump’s camp reviewed those numbers, and Omarosa’s counsel was to woo the vulnerable and promise them the world.
Black people, however, are keenly aware of how they stand and why they stand — and they, we, are not as influenced by a few words from a figure that’s spewed hate and racism for decades.
And with the mix of tech-savvy millennials bridging the digital divide, there’s a wave of the community that’s dedicated now more than ever to connecting powers and differences. So Trump’s groupthink gaze will come down before his eyes on Nov. 8, as that 15-20 percent Omarosa is hoping for will never come.
Darren is a marketing, advertising and technology executive with a focus in content development/direction, analytics and audience development. He is the CEO of Streamlined Media & Communications and loves being black as hell in any setting.