Who’s in the White House’s Black Outreach Role?
By WILLIAM REED
If you didn’t know it Omarosa is out as “Black outreach” in the Trump White House. Omarosa Manigault Newman, who achieved a measure of fame playing villain on “The Apprentice” cemented a relationship with President Trump that led to a White House appointment, will be leaving her position A firebrand antagonist, Ms. Manigault-Newman was serving as the most senior African-American staffer in the White House and was tasked, in part, with fostering positive working relationships between the administration and leadership in the Black community. However, sources with firsthand knowledge of her relationships with the Black community feel that during her 11-month tenure, Manigault Newman, turned off many of the constituencies with whom she'd promised to build bridges.
The relationship was a sad case o the blind leading the blind. Omasora knew little of the culture and leadership in the black community, and Trump knew less. There was no job description or accountability for Manigault-Newman. With a demeanor much like President Trump, Omasora was too despised among African Americans. "There was nothing on substance that she would add,” Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. "There was nothing she could deliver other than photo ops. Clearly no one really knew what she was doing in the first place," Meeks said. Several sources within the administration and others from high-profile Black organizations say Manigault Newman failed on one of her first big outreach efforts when she confronted, cursed and scolded six key members of the Congressional Black Congress following a Cabinet room meeting with the President.
Mr. Trump’s presidency barely registers among African Americans; he has a 3 percent rating. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders put out a statement that said “Ms. Newman resigned to pursue other opportunities…We wish her the best in future endeavors and are grateful for her service.” One of the president’s prominent African-American supporters, Ms. Newman served as the director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison. People involved with the administration, such as Black White House correspondent April Ryan, said Ms. Newman neglected to find enough attendees for a Black History Month event early in the administration, for instance. And the office — which is crucial for building coalitions — became seen as the “island of misfits.”
So who, or what, is next? In order to remain relevant to mainstream-minded Americans Omasora will likely gain spotlights again releasing exposes such “Being Black in the White House.” After Omarosa, the position could be staffed to be very relevant in getting Blacks and their interests and issues into cabinet and agency focuses and discussions. Trump should exhibit strong decision–making in filling this slot and not fill it with anyone with more contempt for Blacks than himself. Future appointees should be more qualified than was Omarosa. Appointee should be a Republican with cachet among African Americans. Actually, under Trump unemployment is at its lowest in decades but Omarosa never make that point to blacks.
The Office of Public Liaison job should be filled immediately. The Executive Office entity is headed by the White House Chief of Staff. People such as Paris Denard and Angela Sailor have been there and done that there. Both often appear as conservative commentators in newsreels and discussion rounds at CNN and NPR. He worked for the White House in 2008 as Director of Black Outreach for President George W. Bush.
Some others who would really make a difference in the job’s role and results are: Thomas Dortch, Raynard Jackson and Alvin Williams. Thomas W. Dortch, Jr. is Chairman Emeritus of 100 Black Men of America Inc. and head of the National Business League. Mr. Dortch is a Who’s Who in Corporate America listee that formally worked with U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. Raynard Jackson is head of his own government/public relations and political consulting firm in Washington, DC, and involved in every Republican presidential campaign from George H. W. Bush to George W. Alvin Williams is President and CEO of Black America's Political Action Committee (BAMPAC), a Washington-based group that supports conservative policies and African-American candidates.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com