This Saturday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will be coming to Detroit. Again.
Only this time “The Donald” is coming in search of The Black Vote.
Detroit is a “hot” locale for the upcoming election, so it’s not surprising that Donald Trump will be returning to our city once again following his recent appearance at the Detroit Economic Club, where he delivered what was perhaps the most controlled speech of his entire campaign. In other words, it wasn’t the crazy, racist, offensive Donald that most of us know all too well. It wasn’t the Trump who is so beloved and embraced by the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazis, and other White nationalist groups nationwide for his ugly stance against illegal immigration and other issues dear to their hate-filled hearts.
But when Trump returns this time to the Motor City, he will be hosted by none other than Bishop Wayne T. Jackson’s Impact Network, recognized as one of the most popular and powerful Christian broadcasting networks in the nation as well as one of the nation’s most successful Black businesses. To critics, the fact that Bishop Jackson is willing to allow his platform to be used as a broadcast enabler for someone like Trump is perplexing at best, unforgivable at worst. The logic behind this opposition seems to be that it is unconscionable for any conscious Black person to allow himself to be so blatantly used by someone whom many believe is only going through the motions of Black outreach now because his handlers have advised him it might play well in the press.
In an interview with the Michigan Chronicle, Bishop Jackson makes his case for why it is better to allow Trump to appeal directly to Black people via his Impact Network than to censor him.
Question: What do you hope will come from this interview?
Answer: First of all, Impact Network is the only African American Christian Television network founded and operated by African Americans in our nation. As you know, Mr. Trump has been desiring to speak to African Americans to tell them what he will do, and what his policies would be, if he was elected president. He has been telling us what he was going to do for African Americans to White audiences, but you can’t date a woman and say you want to get to know her better by speaking to another woman. You got to go where the crowd is that he’s talking about.
“So, he wants to sit down on Sept. 3, to go over some questions that I will be presenting to him. Questions on jobs, crime, education; questions about shootings of unarmed Black men. All Black individuals who are law-abiding individuals, we support our police officers. If a crime happens today, we would be the first ones to call the police, but we cannot sit by and see, openly unarmed Black men shot, and killed, who are not a threat. So, I want to ask him what would his position be with the Justice Department on cleaning up the police departments.
“These are things that I want him to speak to the African American community about, because Mr. Trump tells us he’s going to be the best candidate. He’s going to clean up the neighborhoods. He’s going to bring better jobs. (Improve) education. We have school conditions that are not even conducive to learning. Basic things like toilet paper are not in some of our schools. How is he gonna come into our community and build the neighborhoods back up, and what commitment is he going give to us as a people?
“Now, what I want to come out of this is a clear understanding (of) what his policies will be. I understand that criticism has come about me allowing Mr. Trump to come and speak at Great Faith Ministries. But you gotta understand that we are in a race, and there (are) two people in the race. Mr. Trump may become the next president of our country.
“I’m not a journalist, but I’m a broadcaster. And my network goes to millions of homes. And I owe it to the viewers to bring both sides. This is not an endorsement. This is engagement. And we have given Hillary Clinton the same opportunity. [She has not yet responded]. This is not to put one up above the other. This is to inform our community of what they will do, if elected.
Q: Why did you choose to interview Trump in front of your congregation as opposed to a one-on-one in the Impact Network studio?
A: “This gives an opportunity to not just myself but the congregation. I teach my congregation to be educated in their voting. For us to vote in this day came with a price, and we inherited that price. Don’t sit down because you may not like a candidate or you may not understand a candidate. So, we need to hear both sides. And I don’t need a guardian to tell me who to listen to and who not to listen to. When you get grown enough, you should be able to discern what you can see and what you can’t see.
And for people who say Donald Trump is manipulating the Black vote? Come on now, all politicians want your vote. But I’m just trying to say that we’re not stupid. Black people can discern what’s real and what’s not. And let them decide. So that’s why, in the congregation, when Mr. Trump lays out his plan, then people can hear it for themselves. Let me be independent in my thinking and in my vote.
Q: Do you plan to ask Trump about the charges that he is a racist? That he is affiliated with racist groups?
A: “I will bring up [former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard] David Duke, who did endorse him, and let him answer for himself. But I want to have on the record what Donald Trump is going to do, if elected president. And then let the people decide and make up their own minds.
We’re not here to say we agree. We’re here to listen.
Understand, this is a very emotional race. And also a very critical race. And I feel that everyone should make their own decision on which way they’re going to go. I can’t just make my decision based on what I’m hearing from sound bites, or edited clippings or what somebody else tells me. Let me, and let every voter hear for themselves. Because the next president could decide the future of not only us but our children and grandchildren. I have nine children and 19 grandchildren, and I want to know what their tomorrows are going to be. And don’t tell me African Americans are not smart enough to know when they’re being bamboozled or they’ve been told the truth. That’s it.”
To see the program, go to the website watchimpact.com or call for information (313) 243-1600 before 2 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.