National politics has contributed to black folks having a very bad week.
Seeing Barack and Michelle take that helicopter ride away from Washington, D.C. sent a lot of black folks into an emotional tailspin on Friday. Chocolate City instantly changed from the city of Hope and Change to one of discontent and uncertainty.
Contributing to the funky feelings was seeing some of our most recognized celebrities appear in the company of now President Donald J. Trump at a time when the overall mood of Black America is raw, numb, fragile and sensitive.
Radio and TV personality Steve Harvey shocked his followers by meeting with President Elect Trump in NYC. Martin Luther King, III, not so well known in his own right, but we all know his daddy, surprised a few folks by meeting with Trump on poppa’s national holiday. And, chanteuse Chrisette Michelle told Quest Love he couldn’t pay her enough to stay away from singing at Trump’s Inaugural Ball.
As in typical Facebook timeline fashion, I started reading how much of a sellout Steve Harvey was before anyone offered to explain why they were labeling him so viciously. It was only a matter of time before the memes showed up with hilarious renderings of Harvey and Trump side-by-side, indicating the two of them had met. No one shared what they met about, but none of that mattered. The fact that Harvey would sit with Trump was all it took for folks to start listening to ‘The Tom Joyner Morning Show’ from now on.
This is the same Steve Harvey that had recruited Paula Deen to teach a culinary session at his annual mentoring program where one hundred fatherless young men attend Harvey’s camp in Dallas every year during Father’s Day weekend, right after she was charged with using racist remarks to employees. She lost millions in endorsements, but Harvey was okay with sponsoring her. ‘Her biscuits must be slammin.’
This is the same Steve Harvey that pissed off the entire nation of Columbia because he didn’t know the difference between a first runner up and a winner at the Ms. Universe pageant.
So, did it really surprise anyone that Steve Harvey would meet with Donald Trump? He has a history of questionable moves.
I listened to Harvey’s entire explanation of his meeting with Trump when he called into his own radio show to set the record straight. He mentioned how hurt he was of the reaction he received, but then got into the details. For the most part, he didn’t really help himself with his explanation.
I’m impressed with Steve Harvey the businessman. However, Steve actually said,
“I didn’t’ know what it would be about, exactly, but to my surprise it turned out really interesting.”
That tells me that he walked into a meeting with Trump with no agenda. Knowing he was going to get flack for just being there, I’d at least expect him to go in with guns blazing to demand something of the President.
Harvey went on to say that Trump asked him want he wanted. That’s when Steve said,
‘I want to aid in any way I can to help improve the housing conditions in the inner cities. If I could help in moving the initiatives of HUD along, I would be of service in that regard. My voice in those communities could possibly get some things done.’
Okay, so he was quick on his feet and got Trump interested in involving him with some undefined initiatives in the ‘hood. Trump immediately called Dr. Ben Carson and the three of them seemed to agree that Steve will be considered when they want to do something for boys and girls in the inner cities.
Only time will tell what will come from that meeting, but it doesn’t appear they’ll be setting any precedents anytime soon.
Martin Luther King, III
Just like his daddy who sat with President Lyndon B. Johnson, a guy not too endeared by blacks, MLK made it clear that he’d work with Johnson only as long as he centered the needs of black people living in poverty in the United States. Johnson did sign into law the Voting Rights Act, so their relationship did have tangible results.
Unlike Harvey, Martin Luther King III did arrive to the meeting with Trump with an agenda. He wants Trump to make obtaining identification free so many people in poverty won’t be denied the right to vote because they don’t have ID.
I don’t think it’s a secret that minority turnout in the 2016 presidential election was down more in states with strict voter ID laws than in states without it. I suspect we’re going to end up with more voter ID laws under President Trump. Maybe that’s the real conversation that should have been going on.
The part that bothered me most is that King III invited Trump on Jan. 8 to commemorate his father’s birthday by accompanying him on a visit to MLK’s memorial on the Mall. Instead, Trump’s aides suggested that they meet at Trump Tower on his daddy’s holiday. ‘Ain’t you got somewhere else to be, Mr. King?’
Kudos to Ambassador Andrew Young who was also invited to join King III at Trump Tower but declined citing other obligations. He was probably going to attend a Martin Luther King Day event somewhere.
When every other invited black entertainer refused to perform at the inauguration, Chrisette Michelle was not going to be denied. It’s alleged she was paid a hefty sum to sing one song, so maybe she needed the money.
Chrisette took the stage at the Liberty Ball singing alongside gospel artist Travis Greene and a choir and band of about 30 other black performers. Ironically, the song they sang was (He’s) “Intentional.” (Insert your own reactions here)
Chrisette explained herself with, “We can’t be present if we’re silent,” in which she quotes Martin Luther King Jr. as she justifies her involvement:
“Our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about what matters. I am willing to be a bridge. I don’t mind ‘These Stones’, if they allow me to be a voice for the voiceless.”
I hear you my dear. But, you were silent. All you did was sing the lyrics to that song, ‘Intentional.’ You didn’t even hint at a Meryl Streep type moment. You had the mic in hand and left in silence.
Spike Lee threw the first big ‘Stone’ by removing your song from his upcoming movie. This blog post is my way of throwing a pebble at you.
You only hurt yourself by taking that gig in D.C. However, when you come to the Philly area, I’m still going to buy a ticket and see you because you are still one of my favorite live performers.
As is our custom when I attend your shows, I’ll revel in your gorgeous singing voice and head straight home. I won’t be sticking around to hear your speaking voice because we have nothing to discuss.