President, Detroit Branch NAACP

One might wonder if the late great P.T. Bar- num, creator of THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, has been born again in Donald J. Trump. Mr. Trump, who arguably seems to be running for the position of the greatest scam artist on earth, is indeed quite the entertainer. Barnum was famous for finding the weirdest and the most distinct, to say the least, individuals and creatures, and placing them in his circus for entertainment purposes. This was done to attract thousands of spectators the world over. He once said “there is a sucker born every minute.” In the race for president, it seems that Donald Trump, like P.T. Barnum, is still in the business of looking for suckers to entertain. His most recent bellicose outreach to attract African American voters, comes at a time when he is losing 50-90 percent of the black and brown vote.

There is an old African proverb which says “in order to understand the ending, you must first go back to the beginning.” In the beginning, this same Donald Trump and his father were sued for racial bias in housing in 1973. The case was settled by the applicants out of court. Years later, John O’Donnell, President of Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, wrote a memoir about his experience with Mr. Trump. He said “Mr. Trump blamed his financial difficulties on African American accountants.” Mr. O’Donnell’s book quoted Donald Trump as saying “I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza – black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys wearing yarmulkes every day. Those are the kind of people I want counting my money. Nobody else. Besides that, I’ve got to tell you something. I think that the guy is lazy and it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is. I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.”

Lest we forget this same Donald Trump, who would have us to believe that he is seriously concerned about doing something for the African American voter, is the same Trump who led the way for the Birther Movement against President Barack Obama, questioning his legitimacy as a US citizen.

This same Donald Trump tweeted that blacks killed 81 percent of white homicide victims. This claim was shown to be false. The actual number was closer to 15%, and 82% of whites were reportedly killed by whites.

This is the same Donald Trump who has supported “punching them in the face, carrying them out on a stretcher,” and encouraging physical violence at rally’s in which blacks have been hit in the face by onlookers and supporters of Trump. This is the same Donald Trump who refused to the come to the NAACP National Convention, held down the street practically from the Republican National Convention, which occurred at almost the same time, citing scheduling conflicts. Please note that Mr. Trump has a private plane, private helicopters, private vehicles, Secret Service, and police surveillance so that he is never caught up in any traffic jam. He creates them. He could have easily gotten in and out of the convention in a very timely manner. This is the same Donald Trump that did not attend the National Association of Black Journalist Convention, to speak about issues for black and brown communities. This is the same Donald Trump who has not attended the Progressive Baptist Convention, the AME Convention, and the National Baptist Convention. By the way, the National CME Convention is coming up in late October in the city of Detroit.

The Republican National Convention played host to 2,472 delegates, of which 18 were African American. Is this the nature of your outreach? African Americans do not want to be talked about, around, or over. African Americans want to be talked to and have discussions with their communities on policy issues. Speaking to a 93 percent white audience, in Dimondale, Michigan, or an all- white suburb in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, does not reflect a sincerity in reaching out to the African American community.

Let us see Mr. Trump on Linwood and Joy Road, Dexter and Fenkell, Mack and Bewick, Greenfield and Seven Mile, Grand River and Oakman, or Outer Drive and Southfield. As a matter of fact Mr. Trump, why don’t you select the specific location in the heart of the city, and lay out your urban agenda? You may start with how many African Americans you have working at the senior management level for Trump Industries. How many African American businesses do you joint venture with? What African American constructions managers or firms have you used to build your huge towers? What black banking institutions have you invested any of your finances with to develop jobs in their local communities? Let us see a record of the African American companies listed on your procurement rolls as active business partners. It is not about being a show horse. It is about being a policy maker. There are no clear policies from Mr. Trump direct to the African American or minority communities.

This is the same Donald Trump who recently fired another campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and hired Stephen K. Bannon, head of Breitbart News. This is one of America’s well known white nationalist, extremists, media outlets. If Mr. Trump is concerned about reaching out to African American voters, why then would he hire such an individual? Bannon proudly proclaimed through his news outlet, after the murder of nine parishioners at Mother Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina about the confederate flag, saying “hoist it high and proud, the confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage.”

In addition, this same Stephen Bannon, fol- lowing Trump’s speech in Milwaukee, sent out a press release entitled “What They are Saying about Trump’s Excellent Law and Order Speech.” In the press release, they quoted Jill Colvin, an AP reporter as saying “Trump sounds like he is talking directly to African Americans.” This was tweeted yet they failed to include the full statement which read, “but I don’t see a single white person in the crowd.” Well step right up ladies and gentleman and get your popcorn, peanuts and cracker jacks. Welcome to the greatest political circus on earth.

What the hell do African Americans have to lose, Mr. Trump has asked? We have the potential to lose the gains we have made in voting rights, civil rights, and human rights, if we go back to the time, whenever that was, according to Mr. Trump, when America was Great Again. We have the possibility of losing the opportunity to gain new seats on the US Supreme Court, which can finally come to a balanced and more equitable system of justice for all Americans.

We have the potential to lose health care, that has now been provided for millions of whites and black who before Obama Care had no access to health care.

We have the potential to lose higher wages and income equality, based on Mr. Trumps own acknowledgement that he does not support a livable wage for people in our nation.

Our mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters have the potential to lose their right to choose the nature of what they do with their own bodies, and not be punished because a President believes he should determine their health destiny.

We stand to lose the attention that has been paid to young people, by both blacks and whites, who understand BLACK LIVES DO MATTER. This is not because other lives don’t matter, yet due to the disparate deaths of black and brown men in cities across our nation, they have not always mattered equally.

So when the question is asked what the hell do we have to lose? I say Mr. Trump, in addition to all that has been mentioned, our fundamental dignity and self-respect. Therefore, most members of the African American community will not be sucked into a political circus, with you starring as the Grand Master.

Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony is President, Detroit Branch NAACP