In his inaugural address, Donald Trump offered tall words on the diversity of America and the things that should unite us. Among his pledges: a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure.
The sentiment among African-Americans is that Trump should concentrate on building bridges in places such as Baton Rouge and Brooklyn, not constructing a border wall on the Mexican border. Racial tensions run high among Americans and Trump would do well with a “charm offensive” to achieve agreement and support among blacks.
Trump won a mere 8 percent of the black vote and a Pew Research poll finds that three-quarters of African-Americans believe race relations will worsen during his presidency.
Nevertheless, there should be more support from blacks toward Trump’s statement: “We will empower cities and states to seek a federal disaster designation for blighted communities in order to initiate the rebuilding of vital infrastructure, the demolition of abandoned properties, and increased presence of law enforcement.”
Too many blacks are prejudiced and partisan toward Trump. Instead of offering to help him implement a massive infrastructure package, most blacks are apathetic to the billions of dollars such a project would reap, and political activists have labeled it “a joke.” Some say Trump’s “New Deal for African-Americans” is “replete with stereotypes and devoid of actual policy.”
Among the first words you hear from blacks is that “Trump is racist.” Trump should let more blacks know who and what he is to them. More blacks should be asking: How is Trump going to implement national infrastructure programs and who will benefit from them?
The small clique of African-Americans that is said to communicate with him should tell Trump that his numbers are out of date. Blacks are no longer just in urban areas. Thirty-nine percent of African-Americans live in the suburbs; just 36 percent live in cities. Fifteen percent live in small metropolitan areas, and 10 percent live in rural areas. That’s a noticeable shift from 2000, when 41 percent of African-Americans lived in cities, 33 percent lived in suburbs, 15 percent lived in small metro areas, and 11 percent lived in rural communities.
Trump’s role is to be “The Great White Hope” to blacks’ liberation Obama could never be. Trump has the great American entrepreneurial vision and skills black youths need to see and emulate. With the infrastructure plan Trump can create thousands of new jobs in construction, steel manufacturing, and other sectors to build the transportation, water, telecommunications and energy infrastructure.
But it’s important that this infrastructure project’s proponents note Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s narrative that 1950s America used highways to destroy black neighborhoods. The former African-American mayor of Charlotte says: “The federal interstate system highway construction displaced over a million people, most were low-income people of color in urban cores.” Such infrastructure projects contributed to inequality and poverty.
As Trump makes the transition from campaigning to governing, he needs to move from “apprentice” to expert. As president, Trump appointed Omarosa Manigault as assistant to the president and director of communications for public liaison focusing on African-American outreach. But to implement an infrastructure program effectively targeting “inner cities,” Trump will need somebody like William Pickard.
Pickard is a automotive business expert that’s passionate about helping minority businesses. He has strong Republican credentials and a long history of business ownership and investment. He is one of the partners of the MGM Grand Detroit, has been an investor in the Michigan Chronicle and owns multiple McDonald’s restaurant locations.
It’s time that Trump take his message beyond arenas filled with white supporters. He needs to at least meet with black Republicans and business types. Trump can create millions of jobs and increase wages for workers. The nation’s roads, bridges, and energy grids are in need of repair. Construction stocks soared following Trump’s “rebuild” speech. More blacks need to listen to and critique Trump on fixing inner cities and rebuilding highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools and hospitals.
America’s infrastructure is a linchpin of private sector growth, but these days, much of infrastructure is crumbling. Trump needs help transforming America’s crumbling infrastructure into golden opportunities. Let’s help him.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.