Losing friends or her ‘black card’ over supporting Donald Trump is not something ShoMore DeNiro cares much about.
“I’ve been told you’re just trying to be white,” says DeNiro. “That’s not true at all.”
The 23-year-old has enthusiastically canvassed for Trump, written op-eds of support and endured harsh criticism while attempting to convert other African-Americans into Trump supporters.
DeNiro grew up in the suburb of Canfield, Ohio, in a racially and politically mixed household (her mother is black and Democrat, her Italian father voted Republican before he passed away). She also voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and says she loves and admires Michelle Obama too.
“I am very proud of who I am,” DeNiro told theGrio in a phone interview from Ohio. “I love my skin color. I love where I come from. I love my history. And like I told my mom, that’s the reason I’m voting for him.”
Trump’s African-American outreach strategy has included a motley crew of black surrogates like reality-star Omarosa Manigault, stops at a black church in Detroit and promising black people they have “nothing to lose” in voting for him.
Manigault said the campaign’s goal is to get 15-20 percent of the African-American vote. Polls have consistently shown that Trump’s camp is not close to that number.
While many African-Americans have found Trump’s campaign tactics insulting, racist and offensive — especially his past insistence that President Obama was not an American citizen and was born in Kenya — supporters like DeNiro simply sees a candidate who can get things done.
“When Trump came out, Trump was saying all the things basically I’m saying to my mother: ‘Where are all these jobs out here?” DeNiro said. “I went to school, I can’t find a 40 hour a week job. You can’t find a job with good benefits.’ I told my mom, ‘Yeah! I think some of the things he’s saying I kind of agree with!’”
DeNiro started considering Trump after Ben Carson lost the GOP primary. Hustling between working full-time in customer service, taking classes and raising her 5-year-old son, she felt frustrated and disappointed by the Obama presidency.
“And I said, ‘That’s what I think we need — a guy who is not always politically correct,” DeNiro said of Trump. “Who actually sounds just like us Americans in the world when we get upset and angry.”
When asked about acts of violence prevalent at Trump rallies, DeNiro dismissed the incidents as false, repeating an unsubstantiated claim that most protesters were planted by Democrats to cause trouble.
DeNiro is also unbothered by the number of racist and white nationalists groups that have gained Trump’s support, including the KKK, which has officially endorsed Trump.
“I can’t tell what persons to follow whatever party,” DeNiro said. “I do know, as Trump said multiple times, he is not a racist; he doesn’t support those who are like that.”
But perhaps one of the biggest reasons she’s supporting Donald Trump isn’t too different from some disenchanted African-American voters: Hillary Clinton.
“She’s a manipulator, she’s a liar,” DeNiro said. “She’s been in this business for the last 30 years and she can’t even say one thing that she’s truly done. I see so much potential in so many African-Americans that I’ve met, and I just don’t think you should settle for somebody like Hillary Clinton.”
Some reports have emerged that Clinton is struggling to bring in early groups of black voters the way President Obama did in 2012 and 2008 — perhaps because of a supposed ‘enthusiasm gap’ or even voter suppression tactics championed by GOP legislators.
While some have debated the merits of the ‘protest vote’ — staying home from the polls or supporting a third-party candidate, voters like DeNiro will be casting ballots enthusiastically for Donald Trump come November 8th.
Despite criticism from friends and some family members, DeNiro is confident come Election Day Trump will win.
When asked about her Democratic-leaning mother, who was initially surprised that Trump made it so far in the primary, DeNiro responded without hesitation:
“She’s going Republican too.”