Posted on December 15, 2016

Tavis Smiley: BFOTs (Black Friends of Trump) Are Normalizing Racism

Tavis Smiley, Time, December 6, 2016

Long before Donald Trump was elected, I posited that Trump, despite what polls were suggesting, would likely do better with black voters than did Mitt Romney.

I believed then, as I do now, that Trump’s policies will be no better for lack folk than what Romney’s might have been. I argued that well-to-do BFOTs —  Black Friends of Trump  — would do no harm by remaining relatively silent during the campaign, even if they signaled publicly that they supported Hillary Clinton while perhaps quietly voting for Trump.


Finally, I believed then, as I do now, that in a close presidential election, picking up a few percentage points with black voters would make a difference in the outcome. Unlike white women, black women meant it when they said, “I’m with her.” But, according to some polls, almost 14 % of black men voted for Trump.


Well, an important BFOT has spoken up.

Bob Johnson, the billionaire founder of Black Entertainment Television, has now publicly implored black folk to give Donald Trump an honest chance at the presidency.


Johnson said, “You can point fingers at Donald Trump, you can point fingers at Steve Bannon, you can point fingers at the whole Republican administration, but that’s not going to get you where you want to be which is permanent interest of African Americans being addressed by either party. As long as we lock ourselves into one party in a two-party system, we’re going to be diluted in our power.”

“Any group of Black folks that come together should fly under the banner of no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, just permanent interests,” said Johnson.”


This notion of “no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, only permanent interests” is hollow and bankrupt.

The black struggle for justice, equality and equity cannot be reduced to mere selfish “interests.” What about immutable principles?


I’m not against giving Mr. Trump a chance, because whether I like it or not, he is my president too.


What I’m against is selling black folk pipe dreams. Why should black folk believe that Trump will keep any of the paltry promises he made to them when he’s reneging almost daily on the campaign promises he made to his actual supporters?


I have no patience for Trump or any other apologists where the plight of black people is concerned.

Johnson is to the unrepentant Trump what Booker T. Washington was to the racial arsonists Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

What we need in this moment is not an accomodationist like Washington, but a truth-teller like W.E.B. DuBois.