Whelp. There it is—the very thing that a year ago nobody thought could happen, has happened: Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee this summer in Cleveland. It all went down last night in Indiana, when Trump bested his last standing GOP rival, Sen. Ted Cruz in the conservative Midwest battleground state. Now that Cruz and Sen. John Kasich have bowed out, Trump has a clear path to the GOP nomination. During his speech Tuesday night, Trump went through a litany of remarks and comments about his unlikely candidacy and his competitors, and finally the culmination of his nomination as the GOP standard bearer this fall against likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
In a lengthy diatribe about the coalitions of people that he is interested in winning to the “Trump train,” the billionaire stated that his campaign was going to have "unbelievably great relationships with the Hispanics," and that "the Hispanics have been so incredible to me." This despite Trump spending his campaign pledging to crack down on illegal immigration, build a border wall and deport millions. But then Trump made a similarly clumsy reference to Black voters.
"The African-Americans want jobs," Trump said. "You look at what's going on, they want jobs. And we're going to bring back our jobs and save our jobs, and people are going to have great jobs again."
Although we all know that Trump has began outreach efforts to women and voters of color, his attempts so far have been feeble and fumbled. Some of his former protégés from The Apprentice, five Blacks and another Asian-American held a press conference last month where they excoriated Trump for his comments, divisiveness, and comments about Mexicans, African Americans and women. Trump responded with personal jabs, branding them as “six failing wannabes,” in a statement released later.
“How quickly they forget," he said. "They just want to get back into the limelight like they had when they were with Trump. Total dishonesty and disloyalty."
Is this what we as Americans can expect from the man who wants to be President beginning next January?
But if we are honest, Black people could be open to Trump’s economic policies and his pronounced desire to bring jobs back to America. So here are five things African Americans should be looking for from the presumptive GOP nominee to determine whether or not he is serious about courting the Black vote come November.
· Pay attention to where Trump campaigns. Will he be like most GOP nominees and avoid black people all together. Or only take photo ops with them.
· Pay attention to how Trump talks about issues of importance to the black community: social justice, criminal reform, social programs for those living at or below the poverty level, economic opportunity.
· Pay attention to Trump’s VP choice. It will tell us a lot about who he is and where he wants to go as President in governing America. Will he choose a consensus person like say a Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, or will he pick someone White, male and conservative and isolating like a Newt Gingrich (whose name is being mentioned a lot).
· Pay attention to how he talks to other “groups” in America: women, LGBTs, Muslims, Hispanics, disabled persons, etc. Because Trump attacks everyone. No one is above his juvenile jabs, and barbs. What he will say about them, he will say about us.
· Pay attention to who Trump has in his ear and in his inner circle. Does he take the counsel of qualified black people (meaning those who are grounded in the community, not people like Dr. Ben Carson who long ago lost his street cred)? Also, does he associate with Black causes, issues and needs in a positive way?
Donald Trump has been doing a lot of talking for the past year or more. He has offended everyone in America, and some around the world. The Black community is no different than any other. We need to listen to Mr. Trump’s heart which will have a lot to do with how he governs. And, if I might add this we would do well as a people to not blindly run to Hillary Clinton’s side either. Both of these candidates need to earn Black votes just as they do any other community’s votes. They need to speak to us with respect, with knowledge, and with policies that will vastly improve the lives of Black men, women and children.
Sophia A. Nelson, Esq. is an attorney and award winning journalist. Follow her on Twitter @iamsophianelson