Why Trump Fooled No One When He Went to Detroit

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, center, looks on during a church service at Great Faith Ministries along with his campaign's African-American outreach director, Omarosa Stallworh-Manigault (right).
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, center, looks on during a church service at Great Faith Ministries along with his campaign’s African-American outreach director, Omarosa Stallworh-Manigault (right).

When Donald Trump came to Detroit last weekend making his first appearance at a Black church, it had all the markings of a well choreographed trip. To say the least, one visit to a Black church is largely insufficient to convince Black voters that he cares about their wellbeing.

Speaking before parishioners at Great Faith Ministries International, Trump said all the right things. He paid homage to the Black church as central to the African-American experience. Bishop Wayne T. Jackson invited Trump to speak at his church, but Donald Trump did not convince the Black church.

His remarks which clearly were not indicative of the Trump we’ve come to know on the campaign trail, especially after he called Pope Francis “disgraceful” for criticizing his harsh immigration policies. In Detroit we saw a more subdued Trump, who has no problem hurling deeply personal insults at his political opponents, trying to convince the congregation at Great Faith that he has religion.

“You do right every day by your community and your families,” Trump told his audience. “You raise children in the light of God. I will always support your church, always, and defend your right to worship.

“I am here today to listen to your message and I hope my presence here will help your voice to reach new audiences in our country,” he continued. “And many of these audiences desperately need your spirit and your thought.”

Whether Trump’s maiden trip to the Black church was a disguised attempt to convince suburban white voters that he is not a bigot is besides the point. The fact that he chose Detroit as the place to make his debut in a Black church is significant on many levels.

Detroit has a longstanding religious tradition that commanded influence in the affairs of the city, calling and challenging politicians to do more for ‘the least of these.’

Drawing from the wells of that tradition, a majority of Detroit’s ministers brushed aside the Republican presidential nominee’s visit as a photo-op and not one rooted in a genuine commitment to address the socioeconomic and political challenges facing the city.

His surrogates, Ben Carson and Omarosa Manigault who accompanied him to Detroit are the wrong ambassadors to the black community because they have no track record of fighting for racial justice, which is central to the Black struggle in America today. Ironically, Carson is a Detroit native.

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Source: Ebony.com | Bankole Thompson is an opinion columnist at The Detroit News. Email bankole@bankolethompson.com