On 8 November in Atlanta, the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr, Donald Trump stood up to make his pitch to black voters.
“I’m thrilled to be here in the heart of Georgia to launch our incredible, new nationwide grassroots effort – think of this Blacks for Trump, Black Voices for Trump … Call it whatever you want – we like it,” he said, speaking to about 400 people. Soon, he was engulfed by cheers of “Blacks for Trump”.
And just like that, the group Black Voices for Trump was given the president’s seal of approval.
Trump has shown us that he can perform political jujitsu of epic proportions. He is loved by evangelists while his actions – pussy grabbing and alleged infidelity with a porn star – do not reflect traditional Christian values. Likewise, he is the billion-dollar loser who is backed by big business, the reverse Robin Hood who steals from the poor and gives to the rich only to have rightwing pundits cast him as a hero of the working class. Why would his constant vitriol against people of color, describing them as rapists, criminals and vermin, rule him out from courting the black vote?
It may be easy to dismiss Black Voices for Trump – Trump only won a paltry 8% of the black vote in 2016 – but the organisation is no fringe group; it’s a coalition benefiting from the president’s backing. Trump was joined at the launch of Black Voices for Trump by the vice-president, Mike Pence, and the urban and development secretary, Ben Carson, who both gave speeches. In the room were also some of Trump’s most prominent black supporters such as former presidential candidate Herman Cain, whom Trump recommended for a seat on the Federal Reserve board.
So who are the people on Black Voices For Trump’s advisory board?
The ones who laugh about sexual assault
Twin duo Kevin and Keith Hodge, whose YouTube videos regularly top 1m views, give relationship advice online, encouraging viewers to “take advantage” of women.
In one video, one twin jokes about a time he encouraged a woman to get in his car before exposing his penis – but, he clarifies, he was “only” 18 at the time. In their video entitled 12 year old sister is a slut, they joke about how developed girls’ bodies are when they are 12.
In another, they advise: “You gotta get aggressive with these women, wipe your balls and dick on them and everything” to a man revealing that his first girlfriend wanted to take it slow. He later clarifies this was “just a figure of speech”.
The one who thinks women should be maidens
As reported by Media Matters on Monday, the motivational speaker and board member Clarence Mason Weaver believes that men and women aren’t equal – and he really wants you to know about it.
That’s why he posts videos criticizing women who work (“So, ladies, how are your children doing? Your lack of family time, raising and nurturing them has done great harm to them”). He also rails against women with masculine traits such as, er, being smart (“We don’t care how smart you are. We don’t care how strong you are. We don’t care. It is masculine. You look like a dude. You talk like a dude”).
And that’s not all. After the Access Hollywood tape showing Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women was leaked, Weaver posted a video on YouTube called Trump likes women, imagine that! Just in case you wanted clarity over his opinion, he makes it clear: “Every man talks like that, every man thinks like that, and stop quivering behind the skirts of the feminists.”
The one who thinks welfare is the new slavery
The Rev CL Bryant of Texas has spoken out against a very modern type of slavery. What’s that I hear you ask? The prison industrial complex? Poverty wages? Not exactly.
Bryant believes that welfare support has enslaved “a large part of the African American community”. He says that it has resulted in a dependency culture that he calls “economic slavery”. He even made a documentary about it.
The one who compares abortion to slavery
Pastor Dean Nelson used to passively approve of abortion because he believed in respecting women and their choices, he said. Now, not so much.
“In college, when I struck up a conversation with some pro-life students I was forced to reconsider my views. When I mentioned the legality of abortion, a student politely countered that slavery, too, had been legal but that did not make it right,” he says on his website.
Nelson now promotes a discredited conspiracy theory that Planned Parenthood has a covert aim to stop black women from having babies. If that sounds crazy, just consider that Carson and Cain have both peddled the same story.
Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, endorsed eugenics, but the assertion that Nelson’s theory rests on – that most Planned Parenthood clinics are in black neighborhoods – has also been discredited.
The one who is Martin Luther King Jr’s niece
It is no secret that Alveda King, the evangelist and niece of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, is a fan of Trump. She is also an anti-abortion activist who describes herself as the “director of civil rights for the unborn”.
Her books include the title How Can the Dream Survive If We Murder Children? and she lobbies for Bible curriculum in public schools.