Home Editorials Trump’s quest for support from Black rappers 

Trump’s quest for support from Black rappers 

by David W. Marshall
David W. Marshall

<TriceEdneyWire.com> — In American politics, alliances and endorsements from cultural icons are not uncommon. They have the potential to play a pivotal role in determining public opinion as well as the electoral outcome in this year’s presidential election. During his stint as a reality TV personality and later as president of the United States, Donald Trump sought support from Black rappers, a demographic with significant influence in pop culture. According to CBS exit polls, Trump won eight percent of Black voters in the 2016 presidential election and 12% in 2020. While Trump’s past support from rap artists did not necessarily translate into decisive gains among Black voters, his support among rappers in 2024 appears to be growing, and polling data suggests young Black voters are showing much more openness to Trump, thanks in part to COVID-19 stimulus checks, criminal pardons, and attention.

To achieve an effective election strategy, Trump will never need a substantial number of Black votes to go his way. If he can continue peeling away a small percentage of Black votes from his Democratic opponent, it can make a significant difference in who wins in November. By capitalizing on his celebrity status, the former president has an uncanny means of generating media attention in shaping his populist political persona, which can prove to be effective when targeted toward people who are tired of the political establishment and status quo, who are unhappy with the current political system, people who feel that promises have not been kept, and who are just simply ready to shake things up while unsure of the outcome. From the beginning, White evangelicals were the polling target. Now, it has expanded to include young Black voters through Black rappers.

On his final full day in office in 2021, Trump granted pardons to rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black. During this year’s election campaign, Black is now among those in the ‘Black Americans for Trump’ coalition. Earlier this month, rapper Sada Baby attended an outreach event for voters at a Detroit church where he encouraged people to vote for Trump. Rappers Sheff G and Sleepy Hallow, well-known in New York City’s drill music scene, spoke on behalf of Trump during a May rally in the Bronx. One of the most notable cases of Trump’s engagement with Black rappers was Kanye West during the 2018 presidential campaign. West would later praise then-President Trump, referring to him as a “brother” before posting images of himself wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat. After taping a Saturday Night Live episode, West told the audience: “If someone inspires me and I connect with them, I don’t have to believe in all [their] policies.” Detroit-based rapper Icewear Vezzo told Fox News, “A lot of Democrats assume that [we’re} just supposed to vote blindly. I feel like our votes should be worked for, I feel like our parents blindly voted for generations, but I think this generation is now understanding that we have to ask questions.” Vezzo, who said he would encourage his followers to vote for Trump, makes a valid point about asking questions.

As a social justice advocate, I have no choice but to assess candidates and elections from the viewpoint of fairness. Therefore, I agree with Kayne West’s statement that we don’t have to agree with everything a particular candidate or elected official stands for. But as people of color, if we are sincere about maintaining ‘justice for all,’ then there are certain boundaries we should never go beyond when voting in the best interest of the Black community at large. Personally, I supported the efforts of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger as GOP lawmakers on the House Jan.6 committee.

They displayed tremendous political courage and patriotism when investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. In some ways, it was inspirational, but I still disagree with their partisan voting records. Most likely, I would not vote for them in a general election. While Black rappers are capable of influencing younger voters, the critical issues surrounding police brutality and accountability cannot be forgotten. Black children were six times more likely to be shot to death by police than their White counterparts, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics. While Blacks suffer an unfair burden of aggressive policing, MAGA candidates have shown an unwillingness to address the issue through legislation. On March 1, 2024, President Biden called for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. As of today, there’s been nothing from the Republican-controlled Congress.

Again, as a social justice advocate, I must also agree with Vezzo. Younger voters should ask pertinent questions. They need to ask the right questions because there are reasons why their parents and grandparents were consistent in voting for Democrats. Conservatives switched political allegiance and left the Democratic Party in the 1960s after Democrats became the defender of the 14th Amendment (full citizenship for people of color), as well as becoming a party of racial inclusion. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney recently exposed the truth. He told writer McKay Coppins as part of his forthcoming biography: “A very large portion of my party really doesn’t believe in the Constitution.”

Romney justifies why progressives have earned the Black vote. They fought the battle to achieve and maintain full citizenship rights dating back to the Reconstruction era. With these modern-day conservatives, there will be no end to this fight.

(David W. Marshall founded the faith-based organization TRB: The Reconciled Body and is the author of the book God Bless Our Divided America.)

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