There were a lot of disappointed people on January 20th. Most felt this way because Donald J. Trump was officially named the 45th President of these United States, but Black people were upset with R&B singer Chrisette Michele performed at his inauguration. She issued a statement on her Instagram page as to the reason why:
The discord was loud and swift. People took to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to share their outrage. Fans swore to never support her again. Filmmaker Spike Lee stated he would no longer use one of her songs in the upcoming Netflix adaptation of She’s Gotta Have It. But she hasn’t been the only one to feel the wrath.
Not long after Donald Trump was named President-Elect, he started taking meetings at Trump Towers in New York City and many of them raised a collective brow among Black people. In December 2016, he met with Kanye West. I chalked that up to a publicity stunt, especially when Trump said they were “friends for a long time”. Really bruh? Prior to the meeting and right before he went to a psych hospital for exhaustion and evaluation, Mr. West stated during one of his Life of Pablo tour stops that if he had voted, it would have been for Trump. Since the new Commander-in-Chief loves a good ass kissing, the meeting made some sense in a random, WTF kinda way.
Then it was revealed that Trump met with football legends Jim Brown and Ray Lewis that same day. Brown has been a notable figure in the fight for civil rights since his retirement from the NFL and Lewis is best known these days for making controversial comments about Black Lives Matter and Black-on-Black crime. When I saw the footage of these two discussing why they met with Trump after his incredibly divisive and questionable win, I said to myself “Huh, interesting.”
These meetings were done to discuss how the new POTUS can combat inner city issues such as poverty, lack of employment, and violence. I felt it was a bit tone-deaf. I mean, if you really want to know how to help those who need it most, maybe you take your privileged ass down to the nearest hood and talk to the pastors, community organizers, and citizens of the places you want to help and to your nearest Black celebrity who moved out of the hood many moons ago. To grab the pulse of the people on these meetings, I hit up the comments section of Facebook and Instagram (my new favorite pastime). Many of the comments referred to West, Brown, and Lewis as “stupid”, “coons”, and “Uncle Toms” which I thought was a bit harsh, but I totally understood the outrage.
Fast forward to January 2017. First, Trump met with comedian and radio/game show host Steve Harvey to discuss the same topics he did with Brown, Lewis, and West. On Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday, his son, MLK III also had a sit down at Trump Towers to talk about voter rights and King’s father’s legacy according to The Washington Post. Social media was all a buzz again with disappointment and questions as to how these men could sellout. Then news about the January 20th inauguration hit. Dreamgirl Jennifer Holliday reportedly agreed to perform, but later back out after social media lit her up. Holliday never explained her initial acceptance to perform. But Chrisette Michele raised her hand and said “I’ll do it”, then posted her statement about wanting to be “a voice for the voiceless”.
All the sentiments are the same. Brown, Lewis, Harvey, and MLK III all say that DJT is genuine in his efforts to help the inner cities and bring good jobs while fighting crime and drugs. Harvey even said he has “an obligation to take a seat at the table when invited”. Honestly, I am not too surprised that DJT would recruit celebrity figures in an effort to speak to Black people in inner cities. I’m also not surprised that he hired Omarosa to be in charge of African-American outreach during the campaign or that Ben Carson is nominated to be the head of the Department of Housing and Development (not confirmed at this time). He is just plucking random Black people from Hollywood and Washington for the optics. Hell, there’s a good chance he doesn’t even know that many Black people seeing as how he pandered to us as if we ALL live in inner cities and come from broken homes in neighborhoods where gangs roam the streets.
If there’s anything we know to be true about DJT, it’s that he is opportunistic, selfish, childish, rude, spiteful, loves a good headline, and an early morning tweet fest. I like to think that the people he has met with understand this about him. Maybe they know that shunning him is not beneficial. Once you end up on this fool’s shit list, you won’t get much from him. Maybe, just maybe, they are trying to extend an olive branch to try to hold him to his promises. Ya know, in a “scratch my back and I’ll tell Black people how great you are” kinda way. Is that wishful thinking? Yes it is, but it’s much needed for this administration.
Wishful thinking aside, I don’t have much hope in Trump, the people he wants to put in power, or the newly elected Congress. If Trump really cared about Black people, his rhetoric would have been more inclusive by acknowledging the efforts of Black Lives Matter, the horrors of police brutality, and discrimination (both covert and overt) in everyday interactions. A subtle mention of slavery would be appreciated at this point. If Trump cared to help those who are less fortunate, his previous efforts would reflect kids going to college on his dime or playgrounds and youth centers being built instead of lawsuits involving his university and charity. Or maybe just not discriminating against Black apartment renters.
All I want to know is what will Trump’s new besties do when he doesn’t deliver on whatever promises he spewed in their secret meetings. Will they come together for a press conference to say he’s not doing what he said he would? Will they take to their social media platforms to rant and rave about how disappointed they are? Will they call him out and try to shame him into action or will they fade into the background like nothing happened? Will they take up for Trump’s slack and start buying property in Detroit, Miami, Compton, Atlanta, Oakland, Dallas, D.C., Chicago, and various other cities to help low-income families afford safe housing? Will they franchise or create their own businesses in the inner city? Will they partner with Black owned banks to offer loans to small businesses? Will they partner with Black Lives Matter to bring more awareness to their efforts? Will they run for any offices to affect change from the inside out?
Trump will continue to be Trump so long as he is breathing. If becoming one of the most powerful leaders in this world isn’t enough to humble him, I see no hope of him holding true to his promises to help those who need it most, be they black or white. As a community, we need to hold our notable figures to THEIR word. If Chrisette wants to build bridges, she is gonna need to do more than sing a song. If Steve wants a seat at the table, he better be speaking his peace and demanding results. I really hope that Jim, Ray, and everyone else is not easily swayed by words only. As for Kanye, he better go off on Trump the same way he did on Beyoncé and Jay-Z when they didn’t return his phone calls.