THE MEETING: BLACK PUBLIC FIGURES AND CRITICISM FOR MEETING TRUMP

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“We don’t want to meet, but we have to do something.”

As president elect, Donald J. Trump enters the White House, he is still being met with criticism. But now he’s recently encountered something else. Why, well it’s due to the recent statement he made against civil rights leader John Lewis. Lewis, an activist who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement, has been, yet another individual who has made a push against Donald Trump. Trump is being criticized for what under normal circumstances would have been a simple throw away statement, has added to his already villainous persona. In addition to the criticism, numerous people have met with Trump in an attempt to connect to Trump regarding issues in America.

A few of those people have been public figures from the African American community. From hip hop artist Kanye West to former professional football players Jim Brown and Ray Lewis, and now comedian Steve Harvey. All of whom have faced criticism by the African American community for meeting with Trump. Now, outside of Kanye West, the others have played pivotal roles for years in making the lives of Black people in America better. Jim Brown has a program called, Amer-I-can, which aims at helping those, especially from the Black community, reach their full potential. As well as Steve Harvey who put together an annual retreat for young Black males who don’t have fathers in their lives.

So if these men have done so much, why are they receiving such flack from the Black community. Or better yet, why are we so hard on each other as a people? I am not a Trump supporter, yet it does not stop me from still standing behind these men in their attempt to create a joining of the minds. I understand the frustration of a lot of people, but in my opinion, he is the president now. You can not like him, wish he would have lost, or even not acknowledge him for the next four years. But rationally, what these men have done; isn’t that what you should try to do? Now, from a political standpoint, given the way our government is structured it’s going to be tough to get anything passed. But why is there so much frustration in trying.

On the side of the people, it is understood where their frustration comes from. Trump has indeed said a lot of things that he has been unapologetic about; some of which he shouldn’t have said or should have rephrased. So from that standpoint I understand the outrage. He has also publicly verbally attack the current president Barack Obama. A move that most have felt was because of President Obama’s ethnicity. Even with him stating he didn’t do it for those reasons, tensions still flare. But my only question to us as Black people is what should we do?

If Steve Harvey, Jim Brown, and Ray Lewis are attacked for attempting to reach out, then what. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position. Because if we don’t reach out, then we’re not using our platforms to try to bring about change. But if we meet up, then we’re soft shoeing and selling out. But like I said before, he is the president now. And how these men handled the situation is how you’re supposed to. You probably are asking why. The reason being, Black people have always had things held over us. You don’t vote, don’t expect to bring about changes. You don’t go to school, don’t expect to have a better quality of life.

Now I’m not saying what they did is a sure thing. But the fact that they did meet and he did offer to work with them, means leverage for the Democratic side. For a sitting U.S. president to have a private meeting with these men, and not even make an attempt in office speaks volumes to the party. Their meeting shouldn’t be necessarily about what he is going to do, but better yet getting a public statement out of him. Like I said before, no matter Democrat or Republican, anything is hard to get pushed through the system. But creating the dialogue sets precedent. Even Dr. King had to sit at the table with Lyndon B. Johnson who had no intentions on aiding the Civil Rights Movement. Lyndon even openly made controversial statements regarding Black people. But nonetheless, the conversation had to happen because Lyndon was the president.

In the end, we as Black people have to create some type of balance. If we don’t want to meet with the president, nor vote, then be prepared to not ask. We tend to ask for stuff from the very people we don’t want to converse with. We’ll push back against these men who met with him, but then what is the proper way. You can protest, then what? You can riot, then what? You can stay angry, then what? Because at the end of the day, when he leaves the White House, he’s still a billionaire. But our situation is unchanged as well. So as uncomfortable and irritating as it may seem, he his the leader for the next four years. And some form of conversation must be had because staying mad is not a viable decision.

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