Blogs Najee's Notes Opinion

NAJEE’S NOTES: Black ministers betray trust by meeting with Trump

Donald Trump, the current frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president of the United States, met with a coalition of African-American clergy this week in New York at his Trump Towers offices. Needless to say, the Trump meeting touched off a firestorm of controversy across black America. And rightfully so.

In recent months on the campaign trail, Trump has clearly made racist and demeaning remarks concerning African Americans, Latinos, women, Muslim Americans, and U.S.veterans.

Trump has insulted nearly everyone except rich white men like himself. The billionaire developer continues to push the envelope with his bombastic rhetoric, which is why it is hard to believe that a group of African-American pastors would allow themselves to get used and played by Trump.

Trump is an ignorant racist who clearly doesn’t respect or value African Americans unless he can use them for his benefit. These church leaders betrayed the trust of our community, and the churches they represent.

Why grant a meeting with Trump and give him a platform and credibility that’s only going to serve his political interests? Some of the pastors were called on the carpet by many outraged African American who questioned why they would even meet with Trump.

They countered by saying “we wanted to hear what Trump had to say.” Well to those who have followed the Trump campaign, we have already heard enough of what he’s had to say. Trump has attacked our community and our allies with racist rhetoric designed to appeal to racist white voters in the tea party wing of the Republican Party that has propelled him to frontrunner status.

African-American pastors never should have met with Trump. No good was going to come out of it.

Trump was going to simply use the meeting as an endorsement by black clergy leaders no matter what was said in the meeting and as soon as the meeting ended that’s exactly what he did, dashing off to meet with a throng of reporters flanked by members of the African-American clergy who spoke out in support of Trump while endorsing his campaign.

I haven’t seen anything this bizarre in a while. How can our religious leaders publicly endorse and support someone who has made racist and bigoted remarks? I don’t understand it or support it and it seems I’m not alone in my beliefs.

The African-American clergy who met with Trump have been vilified nationally by members of their own churches and other clergy members. On Tuesday, the New York Daily News reported that the Rev. Jamal Bryant, pastor of the Empowerment Temple Church in Baltimore, blasted his fellow clergymen who met with Trump and referred to them as “prostitutes” simply seeking “their 15 minutes of fame.”

“They are prostituting themselves and, in essence, the black church,” he said.

Bryant refused to attend Monday’s meeting and accused those who did go of “selling out” for a moment in the national spotlight.

“It’s Andy Warhol’s daydream — it’s 15 minutes of fame,” Bryant said. “It gave them a chance to be on television, and in the newspaper, where otherwise, nobody would have ever known their names. I really felt that their contingency was really selling out their vote for nothing,” said Bryant, who briefly ran for Congress as a Democrat earlier this year before calling off the bid.

“We’ve heard nothing from [Trump] about bridging the gap of economic inequality, mass incarceration, public schools, trade with Africa and other issues important to the black community,” he said.

While African American pastors are fighting and demeaning each other in the national media over the Trump meeting. I’m sure Trump is somewhere sitting back at laughing at us. He successfully used the pastors for his political benefit and has now moved on to focus on other facets of his campaign.

The city of Chicago remains on edge after hundreds of demonstrators took to the downtown streets this past weekend to protest the Chicago police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was killed by a police officer 13 months ago: A drug-addled black kid lunged at a cop with a knife and was then shot in the chest.

Six months later, and a week after Chicago’s mayoral election, the City Council rushed through approval of a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family, even though no lawsuit had been filed. Seven months after that, the city finally released the video of the shooting from the dashboard camera in a Chicago police car that clearly showed McDonald walking away from the police and not threatening them in any way when he was shot 16 times — and almost all of those shots were fired as he lay dying or dead in the street.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who covered up the gruesome manner of McDonald’s death by fighting the release of the dashboard video, has fired Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, and appointed a five-member task force to study the operations and “culture” of the police department and recommend changes.

That’s an important first step because the Chicago Police Department, like our Los Angeles Police Department, has a deeply rooted, systemic problem that screams for a remedy from above.  Our community is still waiting for answers and demanding that the videotaped footage of the shooting death of 29-year-old Brendon Glenn, an  unarmed Venice homeless man who was killed after a confrontation with LAPD officers in May, be released as well. The National Action Network, SCLC, NAACP, Los Angeles Urban League, and other civil rights groups are still monitoring the investigation.

For news tips, email BrotherNajeeAli@gmail.com or follow me on twitter@Najee Ali.