Donald Trump, thank you for thinking about us in the black community so much over the past few weeks. It means a lot to know we’ve got a true winner fighting for us on the road to the White House. But listen: You’ve stumbled a few times before, so I want to make sure you’re armed with a foolproof plan for winning over the skeptics among us. Yes, it’s a little late in the game, and yes, it’s going to be an uphill battle, but I’ve condensed your to-do list into three easy steps that will get you the black vote in no time.
Step 1: Take back everything you’ve said about race since you announced your presidential campaign. And ever, actually.
It may come as a surprise, but some of your comments on race have made black folks wonder if you have the slightest clue what it’s like to be a person of color in America in the 21st century.
For example: In November you tweeted an image with a number of false “statistics” about homicide rates, including one claiming that blacks had killed 81 percent of white homicide victims in 2015, that came from the fictitious “Crime Statistics Bureau” in San Francisco. That same month, you told Fox & Friends that a Black Lives Matter protester deserved the physical beating he got from your supporters during a rally in Alabama.
Then, in February, you refused to say whether you’d reject the support of David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan, a noted white supremacist and a hate group.
In May you implied that a federal judge could not fairly preside over a case on Trump University because of his Mexican heritage, which House Speaker Paul Ryan called “the textbook definition of a racist comment.”
Now that I’m thinking about it, let’s not limit this to just the past year. Your thinly veiled racist business practices have led to lawsuits by everyone from black casino workers in Indiana to the Justice Department—twice. You’ve openly voiced an opinion that “laziness is a trait in blacks.” You encouraged New York to reinstate the death penalty in order to execute five teenagers of color who were accused—falsely, as it turned out—of raping a woman in Central Park.
Once you’ve taken every single one of those positions back—unequivocally—you’ll be in a great position to launch into the next step. Only two more to go!
Step 2: Speak to some black people.
And I’m not talking about Omarosa.
The campaign staff with which you’ve surrounded yourself doesn’t have a good record when it comes to race. And the audiences you’ve chosen to address are overwhelmingly white—even when you first discussed your plan to get black voters on your side in Wisconsin.
By “speak to some black people,” I mean seriously engage with black thought leaders, policymakers and families and incorporate their perspectives and experiences into your platform. Swaying to the music at a black church doesn’t count. Maybe then, black voters will understand that you’re “the least racist person” out there.
So if you really want the black vote, get out there and speak to some black people. You can start with me, which leads to the final step.
Step 3: Adopt a progressive and inclusive policy platform that includes real reforms to reduce inequality and lift up communities of color.
In December I asked you to specify the steps you would take to close this country’s racial wealth gap, in which white households have a median net worth more than 15 times larger than that of black households and more than 13 times that of Latinos. This gap, the result of centuries of second-class citizenship, is perpetuated by the economic and physical exclusion of people of color in every community, and has bred and reinforced segregation in education, housing and economic opportunity.
You didn’t answer.
I encourage you to do so now, and to pledge to fight for inclusive policies that will move our society toward the equal-opportunity nation you claim to desire. That means taking bold actions like closing the wage gap, expanding Social Security, preventing the restriction of voting rights and pushing other elected officials to value America’s diversity instead of pushing it aside.
And that’s it. Who knew it would be so easy to court the black vote? Just three steps and I have no doubt you’ll get, as you predicted, “over 95 percent” of us on board in no time. No need to thank me. Just stop trying to plant the false idea that voter fraud—which is largely nonexistent—in majority-black areas is going to cost you the election, and focus on making these last two months count. See you in November!
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.
Maya Rockeymoore is president and CEO of Global Policy Solutions, a Washington, D.C.-based consultancy that she founded on the principle that a more inclusive society is a stronger, more prosperous one.