I have been thinking about what does President-Elect Donald Trump’s recent meetings with famous entertainers and athletes African-Americans in the wake of his Presidential victory mean for black urbanites. Does it convey a serious commitment to address America’s troubled urban centers that house so many African-Americans? What exactly does it say that Jim Brown, Kanye West, and Ray Lewis have been invited into the President-Elect’s presence to discuss an economically impoverished urban America?
Although I initially dismissed the above meetings as an extension of a ridiculous Presidential season that most Americans wish were a nightmare. However, after pondering this matter, I have concluded that President-Elect Trump’s decision to meet with Kanye and ‘Killer’ Ray reveals much about his view of Black America, none of it positive.
Trump’s decision to meet with celebrities harkens my mind back to a long-forgotten moment when blacks were emerging from American chattel slavery. At that moment, a woeful lack of education and expertise not only facilitated the rise of the black preacher but also led to this figure, usually the most educated person within the community, to represent the community in ALL matters.
In hindsight, it is hilarious that for a century after slavery ended, the Black clergy were called upon to serve the black community on issues such as: labor disputes, rape, lynching, land contracts, politics, adoption, education, racial segregation, domestic violence, drug addiction, school integration, economics, voting, history, real estate, police brutality, and racial reconciliation. Obviously, no single individual could be conversant, let alone possess expertise, on so many topics; to his credit, the local black preacher did his best to represent a community that looked for him to address their maladies and govern interactions with hostile whites.
As the insurmountable barriers that blocked African-Americans expertise in politics, history, economics, real estate, and business receded during the 20th Century, there was no longer a need for a jack-of-all-trades preacher to represent the community.
The only way that it makes sense that President-Elect Donald Trump has met with Kanye and ‘Killer’ Ray regarding urban renewal is that he is oblivious to the inherent intelligence and business expertise many African-American urban planners/developers and business owners have garnered after years of study at leading universities and decades of business world experience.
When viewed in this light, Trump’s ‘New Deal’ promises toward economically suffering black urbanites appear to be little more than a fleeting flirtation destined for failure. Were the President-Elect or any of the other individuals who have occupied the Oval Office since Richard Nixon serious about addressing the misery and suffering of black urbanites, they would first seek the expertise of those who have selflessly dedicated their lives to developing plans to address these issues.
Until a significant Marshall Plan like investment activates the plans of local activists, this nation will experience constant frustrations regarding the condition of black urbanites will be rare and inconsistent.
Were I provided the opportunity; I would advise President-Elect to stop wasting his time talking to the Preachers, Kanye’s, and ‘Killer’ Ray types and recalibrate his focus regarding by seeking out individuals who have been on the front-line of this public battle for decades. I pray that he would understand that such a move is the only logical step in a war that will occur on a terrain and among people with issues that he does not understand.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2016