In honor of the first day of Black History Month, Donald Trump held a listening group with leaders of the black community. Or at least, the gathering's participants were billed as “leaders of the black community,” even though most of them don’t actually lead much of anything.
Attendees included: former Apprentice contestant and current Trump employee Omarosa Manigault; Omarosa’s assistant; Lynne Patton, Vice President of the Eric Trump Foundation and senior assistant to all of the Trump children; Michael Cohen, an executive at the Trump organization and a chief Trump political advisor; and Gerard Robinson, the leader of Trump’s education policy team during the transition. Oh, and of course Dr. Ben Carson. So basically, instead of inviting black leaders to his little tete-a-tete Trump invited Trump supporters to his photo-op just hoping no one was paying that much attention.
This could have been a chance to recognize the enormous need for him to reach out to a community he brushed to the wayside and acknowledged only in the use of offensive stereotypes and sweeping generalizations. Instead, he brought in his few African-American employees -- essentially filling the event with people he paid to be there.
Was Trump too afraid to have any black people he wasn’t paying come and vocalize their disdain for him or could he simply not entice anyone else to show up?
A President who cared about the African-American community and its struggles in both the past and present might have invited heroes of the civil rights era, and those who are fighting for equal rights still today. He could have invited Rep. John Lewis, CEO of the NAACP Cornell Brooks, National Urban League President Marc Morial, or Frederick Douglass… wait, ignore that last one.
He credited those in attendance with turning around his performance with black voters. With an abysmal 8% of the black vote, this reinforces our hypothesis that Trump is living in a bizarre alternate reality in which he won the popular vote and “turned around” his performance with black voters.
More seriously, though, it is absurd for a president to hold a gathering for black leaders in honor of Black History Month and then refuse to invite any black leaders. The total lack of representation from the largest oldest and strongest civil rights organizations proves exactly how disconnected he is from the reality of race relations in the United States.