Stephen Oduntan, Staff
At Beverly Garderns in Beverly Hills on a Saturday afternoon, a Black woman wearing a bright red “Make America Great Again” hat is waving a blue flag that reads, “Trump 2020 – Keep America Great.” She’s among roughly 300 other maskless supporters – almost all of them white – gathered in a festive barbeque-like atmosphere cheering for President Trump’s second term.
Her name is Gabrielle Parker, a 30-year-old business owner who highlighted Trump’s work on justice reform and clemency as a significant accomplishment since being in office.
“[Trump’s] criminal justice reform was a huge achievement. I know so many people who’ve been locked up for marijuana and other small charges. I know this because I worked for a non-profit and saw an influx of not only Black but [Hispanic], and all types of people get out of prison for non-violent crimes. That’s amazing,” Parker said.
In what may be another close election, Trump’s ability to chip away at Vice President Joe Biden’s edge among Black voters could make the difference between winning and losing. Some polls suggest that Trump is actually performing better with Black voters than he did four years ago where he won just 8% of the Black vote.
Still, current polls show the vast majority of Black voters backing Trump’s Democratic rival, Biden. But in swing states like Wisconsin and North Carolina, where the presidential race could be tight, squeezing out a few more Black votes could make a difference for the 45th president.
Nonetheless, Trump’s Black support is still fairly low—dismal numbers some say are a result of Trump’s controversial remarks about race and peddling lies about the birthplace and presidential eligibility of President Barack Obama, the first Black president.
Teressa Thomas, however, blamed it on Black people’s willful amnesia about Biden’s record on racial issues.
Thomas is Black, in her mid-forties, and wears her hair in dreadlocks.
“If Black people did their research, they’d see that Biden did racist things and said racist things,” she said – a reference to Biden taking a stance against busing to desegregate schools in the 1970s.
She also said, “The media is making Trump look like a bad guy.”
So, what keeps these African-Americans with Trump, even after a history of statements, tweets, and actions widely been viewed as racist or racially charged?
Actor Siaka Massaquoi who was also at the rally told L.A. Focus it was the mainstream media as well. The media he said have gone through extreme lengths to paint a negative image of Trump. The first step in dispelling that media narrative he said should start with more Black people attending Trump rallies because what many will see is the real truth.
“They keep saying Trump is losing by double digits, but yet we see all these people here supporting him. It doesn’t make sense,” Massaquoi said.
In Massaquoi’s and frankly, every Black Trump supporter at Saturday’s rally was that the Democratic Party has consistently abandoned the Black communities that get them elected. He believes conservative political philosophies will best help African-Americans.
“The Democrats are not about helping people. It’s all about holding onto power with them. Look at Nancy Pelosi pulling out of talks for the bailouts. We’re talking about $1.8 trillion, the largest in U.S. history and she’s like nah ‘I want $2.4 trillion’ to bailout these cities that are mismanaged by these governors that called off police officers when riots were happening. She wants to bail them out,” said Massaquoi who mocked rap mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs for launching his own Black political party but only to later endorse Biden for president.
“Sean Puffy Combs has made a lot of money in this capitalist system. How much of that money has circulated in the Black communities? I don’t want to hear sh*t from him. From his perspective we’ve been getting shot by cops all day but where’s he at? We’ve been getting miseducated for decades but where’s he at? Yet he claims he’s upset. I’m not buying it. And to make matters worse he goes and supports [Biden] who locked most of us up. Get out of here with that,” said Massaquoi.
Xavi Israel, the son of Italian and African-American parents, said he was baffled why more Black people are not supporting Trump given all he has done for the African-American community.
“We really haven’t had a president since Abraham Lincoln who has done as much for Black folks. People get so hung up on the way Trump talks and his crazy hair. But if you look at his Platinum Plan, lowest unemployment, opportunity zones, sums of money going to Historically Black Colleges and Universities; something Obama didn’t even do. I mean it just blows my mind that we’re still finding reasons to call Trump a racist,” Israel said.
The Platinum Plan, says the president’s campaign key staff and advisors, is designed to bring opportunity, security, fairness, and prosperity to Black communities. The proposals include prosecuting the Ku Klux Klan and Antifa as terrorist organizations, making Juneteenth a federal holiday, and efforts to bolster Black economic prosperity.
However, critics say all of Trump’s initiatives for Black people lined out in the Platinum Plan could’ve been accomplished in his first term.
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ Lift Every Voice Plan is 22 pages and has over 120 mentions of Black or African-Americans, compared to Trump’s Platinum Plan which is not even quite two pages and only says anything about Black people 28 times,” said Reecie Colbert, of Black Woman Views.
Colbert added, “Trump says he’s the first president in decades to pass criminal justice reform. That is flat out false. President Obama passed the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010.”
Colbert was speaking on Roland Martin’s YouTube channel Unfiltered where the panel pointed out that the Obama administration invested more than $4 billion in HBCUs.
“We have a problem in which people refuse to accept facts,” Colbert said.
But Black Trump supporter Drew Barnett says Obama’s policies didn’t go far enough to help the masses.
“Obama had HBCU’s on a year by year funding basis which means Black academic institutions had to beg for more money. But [Trump] gave these schools permanent funding which is going to last for the next ten years,” said Barnett.
“And as far as prison reform goes, Obama did nothing.”
In any event, long queues have formed across the country for early in-person voting, a sign that Election Day, nearly two weeks away, could see a record turnout. “Donald Trump doesn’t need the Black vote but he’s still supporting us,” Barnett said.