“Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?”
The title of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s 1967 assessment of black America frames an apt post-election question for 2016.
African-American voters delivered 88 percent of their vote to Hillary Clinton, exit polls show, and just 8 percent to Donald Trump. That gives us zilch, nada, no leverage in a Trump administration.
Forty-eight years after King’s assassination, we continue to suffer chaos in our communities. We remain co-opted by politicians who perennially fail us.
African Americans are “living in hell,” Trump argued on the campaign trail.
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“Look at how badly things are going under decades of Democratic leadership – look at the schools, look at the 58 percent of young African-Americans not working,” he exhorted in August at a rally in Charlotte, N.C.
“If African Americans give Donald Trump a chance by giving me their vote, the result for them will be amazing,” he said.
In a Trump administration, we might be living under hell.
African Americans can rail about his racism and oppressive policies. We can deny his presidency, march, get arrested, sign petitions. We might feel better for a minute.
Trump will be still be sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017.
How about holding Trump to his election-night pledge?
“I will be president for all of Americans, and this is so important to me,” he declared. “For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.”
Let’s take Trump up on his gracious invitation. No Republican president in my lifetime ever put forth a meaningful black agenda. New black leadership can help him be the first.
Trump and a Republican-dominated Congress will not entertain the traditional pork-laden handouts offered up to black voters for decades.
Trump is a champion of small businesses, entrepreneurship and economic development. He might heed a new cadre of black leadership, his black peers.
He would listen to a consortium of successful, pragmatic black CEO’s, like Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express; Marvin Ellison at J.C. Penney; Ursula Burns, chairman and CEO of Xerox; and Robert L. Johnson, former CEO and founder of Black Entertainment Television.
The prescient Don Peebles, who, like Trump, is a mega-developer, could take the lead. Peebles was a major fundraiser for President Barack Obama, but has also criticized Democrats. Back in January, Peebles reportedly predicted that Trump was “poised to win it all.”
These are not household names, but they are powerful players who know how to move money and the economy.
Forget the self-interested tokens who hang on Trump’s coat tails, the Dr. Ben Carsons, Don Kings and Omarosa what’s-her-name.
Forget marquee names like Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton, and the bevy of black elected officials held captive by the Democrats.
These business leaders speak Trump’s language. They can get a meeting. They can provide him with the advice and credibility to tailor and deliver on infrastructure initiatives and other job creation programs that can revive our cities and curb the chaos.
One idea, worth a try.
Follow Laura Washington on Twitter: Follow @MediaDervish