Over the last few days, Donald Trump has been attempting to court the all-important Black vote, without actually visiting a Black neighborhood or addressing a Black audience, of course. As someone who has been a well-known public figure, an extremely visible New Yorker for decades, Trump is not a new entity by any measure. We know precisely who he is: A media figure, a businessman and a political player for years upon years. I got to know him on social occasions, and I never once met a Black member of the Trump organization, or a Black executive in any of his real estate holdings/casinos. If we really want to know where the GOP Presidential nominee stands when it comes to issues impacting the Black community, we need just look at his past. There's nothing new here -- just the same old Trump and his biased actions and biased track record.
In 1973, the Department of Justice filed suit against Donald Trump and his father for violating the Fair Housing Act. As has been widely reported, superintendents at Trump properties would allegedly mark Black applications with a "C" for "colored" (along with other discriminatory practices) according to the suit. As the Washington Post put it:
The employees allegedly directed Blacks and Puerto Ricans away from buildings with mostly white tenants, and steered them toward properties that had many minorities, the government filings alleged ... It was one of the biggest federal housing discrimination suits to be brought during that time.
In 1989, in the midst of an intense case where five young Black and Latino boys were being charged with the brutal rape of a White female investment banker in what would be known as the Central Park Jogger case, Trump took out full-page ads calling for the death penalty to be reinstated in New York. He paid some $85,000 for the ads that ran in four major papers, including the New York Times, before these teenagers even had their day in court. I remember marching against these ads which only divided the City and the nation, and smeared the young boys (aged 14 to 16) in the public's eye. The Central Park Five as they were known were eventually exonerated (after serving lengthy jail sentences) and the world learned of coerced confessions and other ugly tactics that were used to convict these kids. Trump has never apologized to the Central Park Five or for those ads.
Trump often touts his business acumen and his empire that he "self-made." Never once have I seen him give contracts to Black businesses. How many of his casino and real estate developments contract Black businessmen and Black businesswomen? Think we already know the answer. If Trump is running as a business mogul, why doesn't he expose who he does business with if he wants us to feel as if he's some sort of alternative? He should also release who the executives are at his companies and how many of them are Black. Otherwise, this is just some sad attempt to act like the 70-year-old man becomes a new kid that we don't already have an extensive background and history on. That is laughable.
As my organization, National Action Network, prepares to gather with the American Federation of Teachers and others for a unity rally against gun violence on Saturday in Washington, DC in front of the NRA building, we must keep in mind what is at stake during this election. Donald Trump is an ardent supporter of the NRA, and the NRA is an adamant supporter of Trump. Despite shooting tragedies from Charleston to Orlando, the NRA backs the Republican candidate and he backs their lobbying efforts against banning assault rifles and other deadly military-like weapons that have no place on our streets. We will rally for sensible gun reform on Saturday, followed by 72 days of action on gun violence.
As Trump continues on his pretend outreach towards us, we must keep in mind what he supports and how his policies will impact us. Draconian voter suppression tactics like new voter ID laws are being implemented throughout the country; they directly disenfranchise us and Trump supports these laws. He supports tax cuts for the rich, but wants to cut funds from many programs that benefit us and other marginalized communities economically. He has no plan or policy in place for criminal justice reform and instead thinks the answer is having more police in our neighborhoods. Under a Trump Presidency, we would lose the ongoing progression that's been building through the Obama years.
For Blacks to try something this old and act like it's new would mean we have lost our minds. We don't need to guess or speculate where he stands on the issues, or how he would govern -- we already have an extensive record that goes back decades.
Trump's pitch to us was, "What the hell do you have to lose?" The answer is simple: everything.