During the first weeks of his presidency, Donald Trump expedited executive orders that fulfilled campaign promises. The response to his orders engendered massive marches domestically and globally. The administration’s actions offended sovereign countries dignitaries, including a number of our allies. In conjunction with the orders, Trump generated significant backlash by enacting a travel ban on Muslims—only to see it halted by our judicial process as unconstitutional.
Due to being less than honest about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, the recent loss of his national security advisor, Michael Flynn, leaves Trump in a precarious position in navigating international matters. As a matter of fact, Mr. Trump’s approval ratings were the lowest of any new U.S. president both domestically and abroad.
To be fair, Mr. Trump’s core electorate base wanted him to shake things up, which he has done that for them. And, it’s highly likely that they are the only group happy with his actions over the last 25 days.
As a presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump pledged “America first,” and was seemingly only focused on the needs of a specific group in America—the middle class. Inspection of his divisive campaign rhetoric by rational people would lead most to believe that this demographic was all he was concerned about. In fairness, when Mr. Trump was questioned, both he and his surrogates continued to state that he was a unifier, not a divider. Prior to his inauguration, the then President-elect continued to extol that he would unite, and his controversial rhetoric and orders following his election made it difficult for many to view him as such.
Given the state of international turmoil, it is appropriate for Mr. Trump to concentrate on America’s problems, in line with his administration’s domestic focus. However, Mr. Trump must demonstrate that he is a president for all Americans—including minorities.
During his campaign, Mr. Trump—in a political gaffe—referred to inner cities in dated terms, using labels such as “ghettos,” which made critics view him as completely out of touch. Then, Mr. Trump ham-handedly asked black American’s to vote for him by posing the query, “What do you have to lose??” As a politician, Mr. Trump appears to be tone deaf, as he doesn’t seem to be aware of how offensive those comments are to black Americans today. Considering the Supreme Court nominations and the appointment of an Attorney General with a history of being racially insensitive, the resounding answer from not just black America, but all minorities, is, “A hell of a lot!”
To date, Mr. Trump hasn’t expressed a plan to help black America, or minorities or improve the inner cities—such issues seem to have been complete disregarded. But, to be fair, Trump has expressed concern in wanting to stop the “American carnage” that’s occurring within the inner cities. Although black America and minorities would like to see leadership from Mr. Trump, it is probably in our best interest to collectively think about specific targets and position these plans to the Trump administration.
We need to define specific entrepreneurship and education initiatives to demand support for from his administration. The initiatives should be presented by business people and economists—not via celebrity photo shoots featuring entertainers. If Trump can be focused on an inclusive goal—we can use that to drive progress.
Please find the three initiatives that the Trump Administration can enact to serve minorities below:
1. Improving Education
Targeting improving education in inner cities and rural areas, with programs designed to increase skill sets will benefit the country.
There should be a particular educational focus on the following components:
- Technology: Develop initiatives that train young people for jobs in coding, hardware, and engineering.
- Finance: Develop finance focused programs as core component in education for every citizen, that also enables understanding in terms of how it is essential for success, in addition to how finance works . These courses should be implemented in elementary school and continue through high school on a mandatory basis, and cover topics from credit to business loans.
- Entrepreneurialism: Develop a national program to increase the creation of entrepreneurs in all disenfranchised areas. This could be an area that Mr. Trump could actually excel in and serve as a role model.
2. Target Bank Lending and CRA Standards and Initiatives
Targeting bank lending, in regards to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), is critically important. Commercial banks have horrendous records of loaning to people of color. The banks are often net deposits and deficit lending—meaning they take money from minorities for deposits, but lend to other communities, in which they take less deposits.
CRA initiatives are supposed to penalize banks for this. Instead, the idea was that banks could educate minorities, and that would be the equivalent of making loans for federal requirement purposes. This was an extremely bad idea. Black people and other minorities are consistently denied capital, and this is an impediment on our growth. Addressing this would be a great step, and it can move the needle nationwide, positively impacting all disenfranchised people. This measure alone could greatly increase the productivity and wealth of the United States.
3. Measure Progress and Demand Performance
Too many times, black people and minorities have been given promises and statements of goodwill for the future with zero follow up. One of the key things that Trump excels at is the pursuit of goals. The most important thing that we can obtain from him is a commitment to measure progress and demand performance in these initiatives—and a commitment to fire anyone not meeting the goals—something that was never done in the past.
These are some examples, but we need collective discourse. An engagement with the administration and key people in it will be necessary to target things important to the black community. Every day, we hear notions dispelling any details in the administration’s plans. Therefore, we must develop a national agenda, present it, and hold Mr. Trump accountable for action. As a deal person, this is how Mr. Trump operates, and what he understands. He has openly asked us for a chance, and rather than questioning what “we have to lose,” as he has suggested, we must instead demand what we expect to gain.