I don’t wear a MAGA hat and have not yet been to a Trump rally, but I belong to a small group of blacks in America who support President Trump.
Friends and former classmates often ask why I support Trump. The answer is quite simple. He is advancing policies that expand economic mobility and right wrongs in our justice system. I believe that he is working for all Americans and black people are gaining from those efforts. Just take a look at labor force participation, entrepreneurship, efforts to expand school choice and criminal justice reform.
I believe that he is working for all Americans and black people are gaining from those efforts.
Last week, I joined other black Trump supporters invited to the White House for the annual Black History Month event. I expected pomp and circumstance — and there was some of that — but it felt more like a family reunion. I met in person people whom I only knew through Twitter and Instagram, but we are bonded by belief instead of blood.
Arriving two hours early at the Southeast Gate, I was pleasantly surprised to find several other attendees already waiting, including Charrise Lane, one of my social media sisters. Lane is a college student who bravely shares her story of molestation alongside no-nonsense posts about illegal immigration, abortion and other hot-button issues. This was our first offline meeting. Despite the cold temperatures, standing in the security line became a jovial meet-and-greet among kindred spirits.
Once inside, I walked the halls of the White House and took in the statues, busts, and portraits of presidents and world leaders throughout history. Since this was my first time in the White House — not just the Eisenhower Executive Office Building — it was momentous for me.
In attendance were business owners, policy professionals, nonprofit leaders, media commentators, TV hosts, and other personalities such as Fox Nation hosts and sisters Diamond and Silk and comedian Terrence K. Williams.
C-SPAN and a host of other networks were eager to pick through the crowd to capture what commentators and even “Saturday Night Live” would later pan as a photo op for the president. Interestingly, that was never said of former president Barack Obama when he convened similar events.
What made the event special was the honoring of several women released from federal prison or pardoned by Trump because of efforts by Kim Kardashian West and groups like #Cut50, an initiative to reduce the prison population co-founded by CNN host Van Jones.
By accident, or perhaps divine appointment, a new acquaintance saved me a seat at one of the few tables. To my surprise, Alveda King, conservative activist and niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., joined me at the table along with Angela Stanton, Alice Marie Johnson and Tanesha Bannister. These three women are the face of criminal justice reform and an undeniable testament to Trump’s commitment to the issue. President Trump pardoned Stanton, granted Johnson clemency and signed into law the First Step Act, which granted Bannister early release.
We have a president who wants to help unfairly punished and reformed Americans regain their freedom.
We have a president who wants to help unfairly punished and reformed Americans regain their freedom. He also wants them to have a chance after leaving prison so that they won’t return. He’s not guaranteeing success but is working to give everyone a second chance and the opportunity they need to make it.
I give him a lot of credit for advancing the First Step Act and this good work. I disagree with the majority of blacks who view him negatively because they think he’s racist.
I suspect this disapproval is in part because blacks overwhelmingly view race as central to their identity — more than any other racial group according to Pew Research Center. They assess a president based on how he handles race-related issues and consider even issues tremendously important to their lives — the economy, educational outcomes and social issues — as secondary.
We view ourselves as Americans bound not by race but by other characteristics that shape us as individuals. For me, my relationship with Christ is central to who I am and shapes my worldview. From that, stems my philosophical beliefs about the role of government in our economy, society and personal life. It has led me to embrace the idea that it is up to me, not the government, to provide for myself and the people around me who are in trouble. It has led me to embrace capitalism, free enterprise, religious freedom and limited government as the core of my political philosophy. Race, gender and ethnicity play a minimal role.
I’m not alone in this, even though few blacks join me in explicitly embracing the Republican Party. In fact, nearly a majority of blacks identify as moderate or conservative. Georgetown University professor Theodore R. Johnson explained that blacks vote Democrat to preserve hard-won civil rights gains, not out of ideology. For example, in surveys, wide majorities supported charter schools and other school choice options, which is not in line with the Democratic Party’s position on education.
In my conversations with friends and churchgoers, I find this to be true. Many are antiabortion, and oppose socialism and tax increases. They align with the left because they prioritize black solidarity.
Despite the black community’s strong alignment with the Democratic Party, that support is quietly eroding. According to the 2019 Black Women’s Roundtable-Essence Power of the Sister Vote poll, black women are increasingly identifying as independents. This is in part driven by younger black women who are increasingly identifying as independent, as are young people across demographics.
Young blacks with whom I talk agree that issues like criminal justice reform and growing opportunity in the economy are their primary concerns. These issues are drawing them to the center and right.
Liberal politics always seemed focused on expanding public dependency rather than encouraging the human spirit, ingenuity and effort.
I became a conservative as a college student because I saw those values and policies as the best pathway for a little girl with big dreams. To me, liberal politics always seemed focused on expanding public dependency rather than encouraging the human spirit, ingenuity and effort.
My immigrant parents, who traded a comfortable middle-class life for the uncertainty and promise of the American Dream, taught my siblings and me to set goals, delay gratification, save, plan for the future, earn an education, value work and offer a hand up to someone else.
This can-do spirit is endemic in the immigrant community and the black community. It explains why researchers have found that optimism among blacks is so strong. Messages of personal responsibility, self-reliance and opportunity resonate with us
These messages are central to the conservative ideology and just might make more black people reconsider if their values and aspirations have a better home in the Republican Party.