Donald Trump has had an interesting ongoing saga when it comes to his “relationship with the blacks.” It has been a rocky relationship for decades, despite his confidence that black people (like Ben Carson) love him. Trump claimed on Aug. 20 that he will get 95 percent of the black vote when he runs for reelection in 2020, and in January he declared:
“I will be great for African-Americans.” But will he really, though?
Trump has faced criticism when he initially failed to denounce the Ku Klux Klan, after former leader David Duke endorsed him for the presidency. His initial reaction to Duke’s endorsement, and his flippant dismissal of that reaction later on, is proof that he wouldn’t have the interests of people of color very high on his list of priorities as Commander-In-Chief.
Of course, in addition to Carson, Trump has many black supporters, including former “Apprentice” contestant Omarosa. While these supporters are certainly entitled to vote for or endorse whoever, perhaps it’s time to break down some of the things that suggest Donald Trump would not, in fact, be great for “the blacks”:
1. He was once sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination.
In 1973, while serving as president of the Trump Management Corporation, Trump was accused of allegedly discriminating against black people who were trying to rent apartments in his buildings in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. The Justice Department sued the company for lying to black prospective renters about the availability of apartments, and giving them different lease terms and conditions than white tenants. And while Trump dismissed the accusations, countersuing the Justice Department for defamation (to the tune of $100 million), his company was sued again in 1978 for violating conditions in a settlement from the first case ― by continuing to discriminate against black people.
2. He placed a racially charged full page newspaper ad calling for the return of the death penalty in New York.
The way the media covered the story of the Central Park Five (teen boys wrongly accused and imprisoned for the rape of a Central Park jogger) was bad enough. But Trump taking out an ad in several New York City newspapers in 1989 during the height of the trial demanding that the death penalty be reinstated in New York was just the awful cherry on top. “I recently watched a newscast trying to explain ‘the anger in these young men,’” Trump wrote. “I no longer want to understand their anger. I want them to understand our anger. I want them to be afraid.” Yikes. The over-the-top ad, a thinly veiled reference to the Central Park Five and other young black boys in the city, further demonstrates Trump’s subtle but profound lack of regard for the lives of underprivileged black people.
3. He thinks black people are lazy.
According to a book written by former Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino president John R. O’Donnell, the real estate mogul once said in 1991 that “Laziness is a trait in blacks.” He was allegedly referring to a black accountant working for Trump Plaza, and added, ““Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” The kicker is that Trump, in a 1999 Playboy magazine interview, did not even deny saying those things. He admitted O’Donnell’s allegations were “probably true,” but insisted it didn’t matter because he was obviously a disgruntled employee.
4. But he also thinks educated black people have it way better than white people?
Trump has attacked affirmative action on several occasions. In a 1989 interview with Bryant Gumbel on NBC’s two-hour special “The Race” Trump said:
“A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market. I think sometimes a black may think they don’t have an advantage or this and that... I’ve said on one occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I believe they do have an actual advantage.’’
5. He’s antagonistic toward the Black Lives Matter movement.
Trump has often made off-color remarks about the Black Lives Matter movement, defiantly insisting on using the conversation-derailing phrase “All Lives Matter” and criticizing the movement for peacefully protesting political candidates including Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Speaking to reporters ahead of a Michigan rally in 2015, Trump said that Sanders was “weak” for allowing protesters to interrupt one of his rallies. “I would never give up my microphone. I thought that was disgusting,” he said. But perhaps what’s more disgusting is the fact that...
6. ...He doesn’t call out some of his supporters for their blatant racism.
Besides dragging his feet in disavowing David Duke and white supremacy as a whole, Trump has been pretty conspicuous about failing to call out some elements of his core supporters who are quite obviously racist. Case in point: the several instances in the last few weeks of peaceful black protestors at Trump rallies being forcefully, violently removed by his supporters. Check out this one incident, where a protester was punched and shoved at a North Carolina rally:
The Trump supporter who was charged for assaulting the young black protester in the video later said: “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”
Trump’s silence around all this can be read as complacency at best and subtle encouragement at worst. Whether he agrees with this kind of behavior from some of his supporters or not, there’s no denying that Trump’s message of anger is stoking the fires of hatred for certain voters.
7. This tweet:
8. Reminder: his stance on Muslims and immigration would affect millions of black people, too.
Donald Trump has said some pretty awful things about Latinos (especially Mexicans) and Muslims over the last several months. But what he and many others probably forget is that his positions on immigration, his call for a ban on Muslims and a border wall would also affect the 23 percent of Muslims in the United States who are black. There are approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in America. According to the Pew Research Center, 16 percent of those undocumented immigrants are black ― some are Afro-Latinos, or African, or from the Caribbean and the West Indies. While Trump’s comprehension of black issues in America seem to begin and end with employment and police brutality, there’s a whole population of black people who would be just as negatively affected by these other issues.
9. He thinks slavery era was a good time in America.
On Aug. 16, Trump talked to the La Crosse Tribune about his love of the Reagan years of the 1980s, and also stated that the 1700s and early 1800s (AKA the slavery era) were also a golden age for America “economically.”
“The industrial revolution was certainly ― in terms of economically ― that was when we started to grow,” Trump stated, missing the fact that the reason the country began to grow was because of institutionalized slavery.
10. He has a condescending and false perception of the average black person in America.
“What do you have to lose by trying something new, like Trump?” The Republican candidate said at a Michigan rally on Aug. 20. “What do you have to lose? You live in your poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?”
Of course, the majority of black people in America do not live in poverty, and his number for unemployed black youth was grossly exaggerated (it’s 18.7 percent). It’s hard to see how painting the black experience as one of utter desperation is supposed to appeal to black voters, but OK.
11. He continues to dismiss the reality of police brutality.
In the same Michigan rally speech, Trump added:
“Look, it is a disaster the way African-Americans are living... We’ll get rid of the crime. You’ll be able to walk down the street without getting shot. Right now, you walk down the street, you get shot.”
It’s a statement full of irony ― Trump can acknowledge that black people are being shot walking down the street, but he won’t acknowledge that police brutality is a factor in some of these shootings. He’ll focus on “black-on-black crime,” on the need to give police more power, but gloss over police shootings of unarmed black men and women. Police brutality is perhaps one of the biggest issues facing black people today, and he doesn’t want to talk about it. That can’t be a good sign.
12. He’s been endorsed and supported by white supremacists.
Donald Trump was infamously endorsed by former KKK leader David Duke in February, an endorsement that Trump initially refused to disavow, though he eventually did. Trump has, of course, garnered the support of numerous white supremacist voters, the most vocal of which can be found on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. In addition to that, the Trump campaign chose white nationalist William Johnson as a California delegate (the campaign later claimed his selection was due to a “database error.”) Trump’s wide support from the white supremacist world certainly doesn’t bode well for black people and other people of color, should he become president.
Yes, Donald Trump took the time to meet with black pastors last year. Yes, he likes Ben Carson, and Omarosa, and surely plenty of other black people, too. He hosted a gala dinner for the NAACP once. Wonderful. But those things, in light of his past and present history with race, are the equivalent of saying something like, “But I have a black friend!” This isn’t even about whether or not Donald Trump is racist or not. It’s about how his past comments, practices, and approaches to pressing black issues (like police brutality) would manifest themselves in his policies. He would not be “good” for us at all. Not by a long shot.
This article has been updated since its original publication to include more recent reasons Trump isn’t great for black people.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.