Iconic singer and actress Bette Midler recently stirred controversy over a tweet she posted about black Donald Trump supporters in camera view at the President’s last re-election rally. She called the African American men seen in a somewhat grainy photo and wearing white t-shirts, ‘blackground’ and suggested they were being paid to attend.
Both at Trump’s pre- and post-election rallies, many have noticed several black people holding signs displaying “BlacksForTrump2020.com.” While the image in Midler’s post isn’t clear whether the black individuals seen in the picture are affiliated with BlacksforTrump2020, black people wearing t-shirts with that website address can often be seen at Trump rallies.
Social media abounds with accusations that these are people put in place by the Trump camp. Others claim they are paid to give the impression that Trump has a multicultural following. The Huffington Post even called BlacksforTrump2020, “Trump’s latest con.”
So, just what is BlacksforTrump2020.com?
For starters, it’s an actual website. A WHOIS lookup on that domain name shows the site is registered to “Domains by Proxy, LLC.” A website owner’s personal information is masked when a site is registered through Domains by Proxy.
The Washington Post revealed that purchasing anonymous domain names increased for both Republicans and Democrats during the 2012 election.
The article points out that since many of these domain owners’ details are anonymous, it’s unclear whether actual politicians are buying them. Or, if squatters buy them in presidential campaign years with hopes of selling them for big bucks.
The self-professed owner of BlacksforTrump2020.com is not seeking anonymity at all, he told Black Enterprise.
Florida-based Maurice Symonette says he is the owner of BlacksforTrump2020.com. In a phone interview with Black Enterprise, Symonette dismisses the notion that he is paid by the Trump camp.
“Not even 32 cents,” he insists. “The fact is I wouldn’t even take any money because you are not going to call me a sellout. From Bush to Allen West to anyone I assisted, we did it on our dime.”
He says he gets right behind Trump on camera with the signs so people can see the website, go to it, and understand why he is an ardent Trump supporter.
“I put my website on [the signs] because they are calling this man a racist and I don’t want to be holding a sign and look like some Uncle Tom sellout without explaining my position,” he says.
He also says he doesn’t use the Domain by Proxy registrar for anonymity. “I’m out here in the open.”
Taxes are “Slavery;” Building a Wall is “Scripture”
Symonette, a former member of the black separatist sect, Yahweh ben Yahweh, cites his main reasons for supporting Trump as taxes and the rollback of regulations. He often uses biblical references to underscore his viewpoints.
“The most beautiful thing [about Trump] is ‘give me my money’,” says Symonette. He considers any taxes over 10% as “slavery” and wonders, “how can you have the nerve to charge more than God?”
He also supports Trump’s rollback of Dodd-Frank regulations. Symonette makes the dubious claim, “All these regulations that keep you from getting money–when Bush did it [rolled back business and financial regulations] you saw black men with these $3 million houses.”
Symonette also supports Trump’s wall, citing what he says is scripture from Isaiah; “Build me a wall great and high and all nations say please come let us help you. So if God said to build the wall…”
When asked if he has ever met Trump face-to-face Symonette says he has not but he has shaken hands with the president.
Still, Symonette seems to be a known figure among conservatives. In 2012, then-Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum invited Symonette to his rally in Coral Springs. His YouTube channel attracts hundreds of comments and views, with many white conservatives enthusiastically in agreement with him.