Since election night in November, President elect Donald Trump has held meetings with a number of black public figures. The latest has been talk show host/comedian Steve Harvey. Harvey and Trump met at Trump Tower last Friday to discuss ways that Harvey could help Dr. Ben Carson run the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Harvey has not expressed any specific ways in which he can support Dr. Carson and emphasized that the meeting with Trump was very informal. Harvey deflected questions about Trump’s controversial comments and potential policies by simply stating that it is important to start a conversation to address issues that he was concerned about.
Harvey is not the first celebrity to meet with Trump. Shortly after Trump won the election he took meetings with NFL greats Jim Brown and Ray Lewis. Trump has also met with rapper Kanye West. The meetings with West, Lewis and Brown have received scrutiny because of Trump’s perceived lack of support for America’s minority population.
Trump’s most recent controversial tweet was aimed in the direction of congressman John Lewis. Trump tweeted that Lewis should focus on his “crime invested” district instead of focusing on the legitimacy of our most recent presidential election. Trump also said that Lewis was a man who is all talk and no action even though Lewis was on the front lines of the fight for civil rights in the 1960s. Either Trump was not aware of Lewis’ history and accomplishments or just does not care.
The question has to be asked, what are we supposed to think of these prominent black public figures who have accepted invites from our president elect.
Lewis, Brown, Harvey and West all mentioned that the meetings were informal where no in-depth plans for America’s marginalized population were mentioned. All also emphasized the need for dialogue between Trump and the community that has questions about his character and motives as president.
Trump may be initiating these meetings to appeal more to a group of Americans who did not vote for him. The public figures he is meeting with may be accepting these invitations to make headlines. However, neither of these reasons seem like they will benefit the minority population of America.
The only true sign of change in some of Trump’s rhetoric would be meetings with people like congressman John Lewis who are working directly with the public. A meeting with Kanye West could only be beneficial if the two discussed a way for West to rap like it was 2004 again.
Harvey and rest of the Trump meeting roster have received backlash for their perceived meetings with the enemy. Rapper T.I. believes Trump is using a divide and conquer theory when it comes to the select black public figures he meets with. T.I. also believes that black celebrities should not be meeting with Trump unless they are accompanied by someone like congressman Lewis.
Journalist Marc Lamont Hill went so far to say that Trump is having meetings with “mediocre negroes” who are not experts at anything. Hill also believes that these meetings should not happen without the presence of an individual who has a history creating policies and working towards empowering the disenfranchised.
The Trump meetings so far have produced no relevant dialogue or insight into Trump’s plans for our nation. The only thing the meetings have produced are photo opportunities and headlines for both Trump and his party invites. Going forward each invitee should actually come into the meeting with a formal plan that we can read or see or touch. Without that, we’ve just got to assume that Ray Lewis, Kanye West, Jim Brown and Steve Harvey are all trying out for a new season of the Apprentice.