A black Methodist minister gave Donald Trump the “Apollo hook” Wednesday, when he went off message in Michigan.
“I invited you here to thank us for what we’ve done [with the dirty-water crisis] in Flint, not give a political speech,” said the Rev. Faith Timmons.
“OK, that’s good,” said the duly chastised GOP presidential candidate like a rejected performer in the old talent shows at the Apollo Theater.
Showcasing his “black outreach” for the second time in Michigan, Trump has generally avoided African-Americans that know him best: the 2 million-plus living in New York City. During an earlier visit in Detroit, Trump was guided by the gifted hands of the slow-tongued Dr. Ben Carson, who seemed as clueless about the real intent of the “black outreach” campaign as he was about the location of his luggage.
A major Harlem church was recently contacted for a Sunday Trump visit but the pastor laughed so uncontrollably that the black campaign official hung up the phone. The Baptist minister rejected Trump as a Trojan horse all hollowed out as a threat to Harlem and the country’s best interest.
This is not to say the Detroit church folk were taken in by Trump’s feigned humility that Saturday. Though it must be said that the look in his eyes, his demeanor and, yes, the body language appeared to be fear of the sort displayed, say, by a rich, white youngster from Queens of the ’70s being set down alone at midnight in Harlem at the time — an era of urban terror still frozen in Trump’s mind.
The politeness of church folk should not be mistaken for an embrace of Trump’s candidacy. More than anyone else, black New Yorkers understand that Trump’s “black outreach” is in reality a backward shove.
The casino-builder revealed his hole card when reassuring Jeanine Pirro on Fox News recently that blacks have “no health care, no education, no anything.” The cagey Trump was aiming this hyperbole at his most loyal backers who he declared would support him even if he gunned down someone in the street.
Crazed beyond reason and self-interest over the election and re-election of the first black U.S. president, Trump supporters blame the mainstream GOP for this shock to their sense of identity and white entitlement. And they have turned now to an insurgent but novice politician who is plotting to run a casino at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The eight-point narcissist never takes his eyes off himself or his hands out of someone else’s wallet.
Trump’s claim that “blacks have ‘no anything’ ” seeks to reassure his white audiences that, despite all, in him as president, they will have everything. A prominent, black Trump advocate, the Rev. Mark Burns, inadvertently reassured supporters by not so subtly portraying rival Hillary Clinton in blackface.
Even the fact-challenged Trump knows that the black America he describes — the one many of his supporters long to return to is not reality. His lily white loyalists, and, yes, there are a few lily black ones in Detroit and elsewhere, have turned to Trump precisely to roll back the achievements of African-Americans in recent years.
Blacks have “no anything,” Mr. Trump?
For starters, the very White House that you covet is occupied by an African-American family and their two dogs. And Gov. Chris Christie so lusts after the position of U.S. attorney general that, as required, he shamelessly kisses your small hands almost daily. That cabinet post is held also by an African-American, a woman, in fact, who graduated Harvard Law School.
As for Rudy Giuliani, this snarling sidekick of yours craves nothing so much as appointment as secretary of Homeland Security. That post also is occupied by an African-American, one Jeh Johnson, a graduate of Morehouse University; so much for your “no education” slander.
Despite centuries of obstruction, running from slavery to the current extremes of economic exclusion, voting rights barriers, mass incarceration and the handiwork of killer police officers, blacks are indeed working to make America greater, as great as she has long preached but has never, in fact, practiced.
No thank you, Mr. Trump, African-Americans will not roll dice in your bankrupt casino — and lose everything.
Les Payne is a former Newsday editor and columnist and a contributor to TheRoot.com. He is completing a biography on Malcolm X due to be published next year.