The number of Blacks dismissive of Republican front-runner Donald Trump because of his xenophobic verbiage may well be inflated, author and political pundit Tavis Smiley said in a op-ed piece in USA Today on Wednesday.
In the piece published a day after Hillary Clinton won seven states in this week’s Super Tuesday Democratic primaries and caucuses, he noted that she cannot generate the same level of excitement among Blacks because, well, she’s not Black.
For starters, charisma, charm and likeability aren’t transferable. While the chance to elect the first woman president is indeed tantalizing for many, in black America specifically, it’s not exactly the same as watching an African-American first family taking up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Indeed, even women haven’t as yet rallied en masse around Hillary the way black folk did around Obama.
While I certainly have had my say about Trump being a “religious and racial arsonist” (and he responded quickly on Twitter), not everyone in black America agrees with me. I have been taken by myriad conversations I’ve had with black folk who don’t find those comments by Trump necessarily or automatically disqualifying. In the coming days, we will see whether his initial refusal last Sunday on CNN to disavow the endorsement of David Duke, the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacy might anger black voters. Interestingly, almost two months ago, CNN ran a story about a white supremacist group doing robocalls for Trump in Iowa. He didn’t denounce them then and seems to not have suffered for it.
Third, though it is true that black/brown political coalitions have had strategic successes, it is also true that there have been plenty of other occasions where the interests of black and brown voters didn’t exactly align. In California where I live, Latinos are still smarting from the lack of black voter support in 1994 to help defeat the anti-immigrant Proposition 187. At best, it’s a big assumption to think that both the black political establishment and everyday black voters share the same sentiment on Trump’s anti-immigrant stance. Scary, but honestly, I’m not so sure.
According to results from Democratic primaries and caucuses in 11 states, Clinton was able to hold Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to his home state, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Colorado by dominating “him in predominantly Black and Hispanic areas that were rich in delegates needed for the Democratic nomination,” reports The New York Times:
The contests on Tuesday were well suited to Mrs. Clinton’s strengths: her popularity with minority voters, her political kinship with Southern Democrats from her two decades in Arkansas, and her success in delegate-rich Texas in 2008. She won sizable victories in Arkansas as well as Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, with especially big margins in counties with many blacks.
While even the poorest showing would not drive Mr. Sanders from the presidential race, his advisers said, Mrs. Clinton was already looking past her party rival on Tuesday to the leading Republican candidate, Mr. Trump, saying she was “very disappointed” that he initially refused to disavow support from David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader.
“We can’t let organizations and individuals that hold deplorable views about what it means to be an American be given any credence at all,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters while campaigning at a coffee shop in Minnesota. “I’m going to continue to speak out about bigotry wherever I see it or hear about it.”
While Clinton may not have a lock on Black voters, it’s not clear that Trump has a significant amount of support among even wealthy Blacks. We’re not sure we can agree with Smiley on this one. What do you think?