Analysis: Blacks speak out against racism of Trump

Analysis: Blacks speak out against racism of Trump
December 10
00:00 2015

By Cash Michaels

For the Chronicle

When dozens of black ministers met with controversial tycoon and leading Republican candidate Donald Trump last week – a group the Trump campaign expected a collective endorsement from – rhetorical alarm bells went off throughout the African-American community.

Bishop Sir Walter Mack,  a black minister in Winston-Salem, wrote to The Chronicle in a Letter to the Editor: “Preachers, let’s look out for the people we serve and not ourselves. Trump has publicly disrespected every minority group from Latinos to those with special needs, to the Black Lives Matter movement.”

“Mr. Trump routinely uses overtly and racist language on the campaign trail,” an open letter published on by over one hundred black religious leaders and scholars opposed to the Trump meeting said. “Most recently, he admitted his supporters were justified for punching and kicking a black protester who had attended a Trump rally with the intent to remind the crowd that “Black Lives Matter.” Trump followed this action by tweeting inaccurate statistics about crime prevalence rates in black communities — insinuating that Black people are more violent than other groups.”

“Trump’s racially inaccurate, insensitive and incendiary rhetoric should give those charged with the care of the spirits and souls of black people great pause,” the open letter continued.

While a few conservative ministers indeed exited that meeting with Trump Nov. 30 singing his praises, there was no collective endorsement. Instead, according to published reports, the outspoken real estate mogul and reality TV star of “The Apprentice” was peppered during the meeting with questions about his harsh, and many say racist, statements about Mexicans being “rapists,” most Muslims being terrorists, and protests by black college students about racism on their predominately –white campuses being “disgusting.”

“I told him, you should apologize and repent — we’re called to own up to our bad behavior,” Bishop Victor Couzens, one of the 40 or 50 ministers who attended, told “That’s when his staff interrupted and said, ‘Why should he,’ why this, why that. He let his people answer for him. He didn’t seem to mind that.”

Ever the spin-meister, Trump told the press after the black ministers meeting that there was “great love” in the room, and he’ll continue to talk tough because that’s what has sustained him at the top of GOP presidential candidate polls since the summer.

Indeed, instead of softening his hard right tone or apologizing for his over-the-top statements, Trump has doubled-down on his divisive rhetoric to the delight of predominately white, right-wing audiences at his many rallies throughout the early 2016 primary states, and the South.

Last Friday evening, Trump appeared at Raleigh’s Dorton Arena, and while he filled the horse show headquarters with a capacity 8,000 crowd , there were also protesters both out outside the facility, and inside. The demonstrators inside interrupted Trump’s 45-minute address at least ten times, forcing law enforcement to remove at least 25 protesters.

This week, Trump caused universal outrage when he said he wanted “a complete and total shutdown” of Muslims coming to the United States until national leaders “get a handle” on terrorism. Even members of the Republican Party, embarrassed that Trump’s lead is growing in most major GOP polls, excoriated Trump for being divisive, if not racist.

“That is sheer ignorance that he is putting out,” said Bishop Todd Fulton, president of the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity, on Tuesday. “He is creating more racism throughout the country and the world. Although the Ministers’ Conference does not plan to hold a rally against Trump because he hasn’t planned to visit Winston-Salem, the conference will educate the community on how Trump is dividing the nation in the coming months as well as protest the ministers who support Trump. ”

“Trump is unhinged,” blasted rival Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush. Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina called Trump a “racebaiter” on CNN. Even GOP US House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said Tuesday that Trump’s remarks about Muslims “are not who we are as a party.”

Without question, Donald Trump’s record of racial intolerance is a long one, dating back to the 1970s when he was under U.S. Justice Department investigation for discriminating against blacks trying to rent apartments in his buildings. Trump later settled that case.

In 1989, Trump took out a full-page ad in the New York Times, calling the alleged Central Park Five, accused of brutally raping and beating a white female jogger, a band of  “roving … wild criminals.” It was later discovered that N.Y. police had framed the five black teenagers for the crime they didn’t commit.

And of course, several years ago Trump challenged President Obama to prove that he wasn’t born in Kenya, charging that the president’s birth certificate was a fraud, he was not an American citizen and Obama was not worthy of the office. The president responded by getting the original birth document from Hawaii, where he was born, and called Trump a “carnival barker” in the process.

It is no secret that the Republican establishment can’t stand Trump, and would like to derail his candidacy if it could. Trump is averaging 24 percent of GOP voters polled, consistently leading establishment candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Here in North Carolina, where Republicans hope to tighten their grip on majorities in the state Legislature and congressional delegation, as well as the Governor’s Mansion, there is concern that if Trump remains popular and seemingly invincible going into the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries come January, he could possibly sweep the South straight through to North Carolina’s primary on March 15.

Trump is very popular with Southern whites, given his distinctly blue-collar blunt way of assuring that he’ll defeat ISIS, improve the economy and return America to “winning.”

Establishment Republicans don’t want an uncontrollable presidential nominee going into the November 2016 fall elections, but more importantly, they’re deeply concerned that Trump is so polarizing, his very presence on the top of the ticket could hurt down ballot statewide and local GOP candidates, especially if the Democratic presidential nominee is Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton is currently polling very strong with African-Americans nationally, and especially in the South, though not nearly as strong as President Obama did when he first ran in 2008. Still, part of the Trump and the GOP strategy is to start early in softening Clinton’s massive black support (her Democratic opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, is only polling in single digits in the black community).

Trump’s motive is obvious – he doesn’t want to be branded an out-and-out racist because then he can’t expand his support base if he wins GOP nomination. The Republican Party’s motive is just as transparent – grab at least 10 or more percent of the black vote in the general election next fall, plus continue to batter the former U.S. Secretary of State for alleged failures in American foreign policy.

Either way, observers say expect Donald Trump to make more overtures to conservative and Republican black leaders, especially when his campaign continues to focus on Southern primary states like South Carolina and North Carolina.

Trump’s goal – to create as much confusion as possible in the black community so that he can grab more black support than any other GOP candidate.

According to Trump, if he could do that, it would make his campaign “huge.”

The Chronicle contributed to this report.

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