In an effort to show that he plans to be the “president for all Americans” and to bolster support in the Black community, President-elect Donald Trump has met with a number of Black celebrities and businessmen including rapper Kanye West, billionaire Robert Johnson and NFL Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Ray Lewis.
Unlike so many other visitors to Trump Tower, Trump greeted West in the lobby; members of the media snapped pictures and yelled questions.
“We’ve been friends for a long time,” Trump told reporters at the end of the meeting. “We discussed life.”
With rumors swirling that Trump is having difficulty finding someone to perform at his January 20, 2017 inaugural, there was unconfirmed speculation that West may serve as some form of entertainment at an inaugural event.
In a separate meeting, Trump talked to Brown and Lewis about economic empowerment in the Black community and urban development. Trump recently selected famed neurosurgeon and presidential candidate Ben Carson to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
After the meeting, Brown said that he fell in love with Trump, “because he really talks about helping African-American, Black people. That’s why I’m here.”
Brown continued: “When he goes through what he went through to become the president, he got my admiration, because no one gave him a chance.”
CNN contributor and former HuffPost Live host Marc Lamont Hill expressed concerns about Brown’s comments during a recent segment on the network.
“I don’t have a problem with Jim Brown saying, look, we want to do urban development,” said Hill. “We want housing. We want to make demands of you, but to say you ‘fell in love with’ Donald Trump or his platform or his campaign to me is disturbing.”
Hill said that the reality TV star has a history of dangling Black people around like trinkets.
Hill added: “That’s not to suggest that Donald Trump didn’t have any real Black friends. But when [you] look at where his political commitments and economic investments are, they don’t suggest any kind of care for the Black community.”
On the same morning of West’s visit the Trump transition team announced that Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson was selected as Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State. Tillerson is yet another businessman with close ties to Russia who has no foreign policy or federal government experience.
President Obama once called Kanye West a “jackass”; he was also quick to add that West was talented.
Over the years, Trump has been in the company of several African American celebrities including Mike Tyson, Don King and Russell Simmons. Most of those affiliations appear to be related to charity events and other happenings around New York City. What doesn’t seem to ever arise from those associations is anything substantive that benefits the Black community at large.
Whether the visits with West, Lewis and Brown were anything more than the latest acts in a year of Barnum and Bailey campaign spectacles is yet to be seen, but if past patterns remain consistent that will likely be the case.
So far, Trump has selected Steven Mnuchin for Secretary of Treasury; Elaine Chao for Secretary of Transportation; Wilbur Ross for Secretary of Commerce; Rep. Mike Pompeo as CIA Director; Jeff Sessions for Attorney General; South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations; Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education; Rep. Tom Price for Health and Human Services; Ben Carson for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Mick Mulvaney as the director of White House Office of Management and Budget; and Vincent Viola for the Secretary of the Army.
Lauren Victoria Burke is a writer, political analyst and frequent contributor to BlackPressUSA.com and the NNPA Newswire, the news service of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. She can be reached by email at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter at @LVBurke.