I’ve been a fan of Steve Harvey’s for years and admire that he generously contributes significant resources in the way of time and money to many African American causes. But first and foremost, he‟s a wealthy celebrity, television personality and also a pageant host. Incidentally, Trump‟s altruistic practices are less noble; in fact, they‟re illegal at worst and unscrupulous at best. Steve is admittedly about that dollar and we all know that Trump is, too. Sometimes, it‟s okay to say, “No” particularly when he‟s supposed to be acting on all of “the Blacks‟” best interest and not just his own. When he visited with Trump, Steve was just under fire for being accused of making “racist” comments and agreed to meet with someone who has made them. Not a good look.
And not good timing, either. Although I believe Steve may have been sincere by meeting with Trump, he said, at President Obama‟s request, it was on the heels of Trump‟s dogged recommitment and Congresses‟ vote to repeal Obamacare which affects all of us, including “the Blacks” and Trump‟s blatant disregard and disdain of civil rights icon Representative Lewis just days before the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Yet what surprised me most was Steve Harvey‟s follow up comments. Instead of reserving comment, Steve entered the meeting one way and came out another, singing Trump‟s praises after Trump proclaimed him as a “good friend.” It was almost as bad as if he was dancing on television with a fried drumstick in one hand and a slice of watermelon in the other……. actually, this was worse. So I ask, “What has Trump done for Steve to say he‟s going to do a great job for “the Blacks?”” Anything short of firing Bannon (and his cohorts), rejecting Sessions and not repealing Obamacare, then there‟d be no need to comment. Period.
No shade, no tea (meaning no disrespect) to our girl Oprah, but all of the Blacks who say, “calm down” or who Trump meets with is either a billionaire/multi-millionaire, an athlete or a celebrity: Bob Johnson, Fred Williamson, Kanye West, (all of whom endorsed Trump); Oprah, Jim Brown, Ray Lewis, Steve Harvey… who next? Michael Jordan? Tiger Woods? By the way, contrary to popular belief, all Blacks don‟t know one another but Trump thinks we do. So, according to Mr. Trump: Keep „em laughing, keep „em dancing, keep „em jumping, keep „em singing so they “the Blacks” won‟t notice what‟s going on. Some of us “the Blacks” can clearly see when we‟re being hoodwinked, bamboozled, Mr. Trump.
Now, don‟t‟ get me wrong, Black athletes played a pivotal and powerful role to help shape and improve the landscape of this country. They were very active in the Civil Rights Movement. During the 1960s, Black athletes, including Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and others, marched and spoke against injustices Blacks in this country faced each and every day. And all nine Black Olympian athletes, except O.J., boycotted the 1968 Olympics as a stand against social injustices. Many entertainers, including Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Mahalia Jackson, Josephine Baker, Lena Horne, Sidney Poitier, Sammy Davis Jr., Paul Robeson and Harry Belafonte, who is still very active, were at the forefront of the Movement risking their lives and livelihood. These were all public displays of commitment, courage and solidarity for us Blacks as a whole.
A serious contingent for Blacks would include mayors, pastors, urban renewal professionals, community leaders and activists, people in the trenches everyday who are qualified and ready to hit the ground running. We can ill afford another photo opportunity, such as when most of the 104 Historically Black Colleges and Universities Presidents (HBCUs) visited the White House. That image of Kellyanne Conway inappropriately and disrespectfully squatting on the Oval Office couch in her bare feet during the visit will, unfortunately, be etched in our minds for a long time. Unbelievable! I mean, who does that? What‟s worse is that Trump did nothing more than transfer the HBCU initiative from the Department of Education to the White House. To have to endure such vulgarity without a mention of an anticipated $500 million in additional funding?!?! In contrast, Obama invested $3 billion more in HBCU‟s during his first six years than Bush did in his last six years. Admittedly, the White House visit was a huge disappointment and waste of time for the HBCU presidents.
As for a viable “the Blacks” representative, it should not be a multimillionaire (or billionaire) because that sends the wrong message and they can‟t relate. There are celebrities, even young ones such as Jessie Williams and Zendaya who see and are taking a stand and speaking out against social injustices. But if you must meet with millionaire athletes, why not Colin Kaepernick (oh, yeah, that‟s right, Trump‟s got a beef with Colin). And if you‟re going to meet with a multi-millionaire celebrity for “the Blacks,” why not Denzel Washington who is very sincere, respected, philanthropic and who we admire as a man with integrity. And who, by the way, should‟ve won for Best Director for Fences. Again, I digress.
I‟d always hoped that by now, Trump would have extended the “olive branch” to his former Black contestants from The Apprentice with whom he is very well acquainted. They were very impressive and highly credentialed in addition to being smart, energetic leaders. I had to stop watching the show because it seemed that he questioned their abilities and refused to hire them no matter how qualified. But Trump enjoys the company of celebrities over talented, knowledgeable, qualified “the Blacks”. Memo to Trump: This is not your reality show or The Celebrity Apprentice. It‟s real African American life.