COMMENTARY: Are Blacks Warming Up to Trump?

With 40% of Americans supporting the president’s rhetoric and policies, America remains extremely divided. (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)
With 40% of Americans supporting the president’s rhetoric and policies, America remains extremely divided.

In a Rasmussen Reports political poll released in August, Donald Trump garnered a 36 percent approval rating among African Americans — double the rate he achieved during the same period one year ago. Further, as noted in a recent USA Today article, this is the same person who received a meager 8 percent of the African-American vote in the 2016 presidential election. But is Trump, as Republicans would have us to believe, really winning over Black voters?

There’s no doubt that some question the results of this poll which seem highly inconsistent with the views expressed by the most outspoken African Americans. Trump continues to be persona non grata at many national Black events including the most recent Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference. But for a handful of either unknown or unpopular preachers, Black leaders remain leery of a Trump White House invitation convinced that it would lead to little more than a photo-op.

Johnny Taylor Jr., former president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, speaks during a Feb. 27 event at the White House to announce his appointment by President Donald Trump (right) as chair of the president's board of advisers for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).Washington Informer file photo
Johnny Taylor Jr., former president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, speaks during a Feb. 27 event at the White House to announce his appointment by President Donald Trump (right) as chair of the president’s board of advisers for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Trump boasts that the economy is improving with things better for all Americans under his administration. As proof, he routinely points to and takes credit for an impressively-low Black unemployment rate. For the record, since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking unemployment statistics based on race in the 1970s, the rate of Black unemployment today, 5.8 percent (compared to the overall unemployment rate of 3.8 percent) is at its lowest percentage ever.

However, economists emphasize that the downward trend first began under President Barack Obama, further noting that the numbers do not take into consideration those who have stopped looking for work, many of whom are Black.

African Americans do not constitute a monolithic group of Americans, holding differing perspectives on an array of issues — and that’s a good thing. So even though a majority of voting African Americans are registered Democrats, there are significant numbers of Blacks who maintain conservative views about issues including immigration, same-sex marriage, abortion and public versus charter schools. It would be a logical conclusion that a noteworthy number of Trump supporters can be identified among them.

Still, we’re not convinced that Trump has done enough to win the confidence or support of Black voters and a recent NAACP poll explains why. Their survey shows Trump with only a 21 percent approval rate among Blacks and suggested that racism is still a key factor impacting the president’s low ratings among all racial groups. However, it’s not inconceivable that Trump could win over Black voters, particularly if the common perception among African Americans persists — the Democrats rarely deviate from playing lip service to unkept promises of the past.

If Trump really cares about Blacks and wants voters to believe him, he has a lot of work ahead of him. Hiring Blacks in his administration would be one way to demonstrate his sincerity — refraining from the use of racist references in his tweet bursts would be another. Saying he’s got Black support does not make it so.

This article first appeared in the Washington Informer.

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