It’s been six months Omarosa Manigault Newman left her White House position as director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, with the Trump administration’s efforts to effectively reach out to Blacks grounded to a halt.
Before, and since, he became president, Donald J. Trump has been at odds with Black Americans, and in past months, Omarosa — who was one of the few Black faces in his administration — has gone from presidential friend to presidential foil.
Putting Manigault Newman into the position of outreach to Blacks illustrated Trump’s contempt for Blacks and their issues. His woes with Omarosa were based on how little thought and expectations he put into the position and appointee in the first place.
It’s time for Trump to appoint a competent person for Black outreach, and he needs to take look in-house at Ja’Ron Smith, his special assistant for domestic policy.
A consummate professional, Smith didn’t walk into the White House job from off the street, as did Omarosa, Mr. Smith has the gravitas to be a measurable asset to Trump and African American constituents. Smith is now the most senior Black aide on Trump’s staff, and he’s Black and proud
Hired in 2017 to serve as an adviser to Trump on Urban Affairs and Revitalization, Smith was tasked with pursuing the president’s agenda on issues important to the black community, including prison reform and historically black colleges and universities.
Smith has had a long career on Capitol Hill, and his resume includes work for prominent Republicans. He was an aide to Vice President Mike Pence back when Pence was a congressman and chair of the Republican Conference. He also was an aide to Sen. Tim Scott, a Black Republican from South Carolina who has evolved as the face of Black GOP thought in Washington.
Trump did Blacks a disservice with Omarosa. Smith is much more qualified than she was. A Black millennial, Smith grew up in a single-parent household in Cleveland. He came to Washington to earn an undergraduate degree in finance from Howard University before earning a master’s degree in divinity from Howard.
Omarosa never came to the ghetto and never prioritized or articulated Blacks’ pain or programs. We need someone to lead programs and processes to reduce recidivism in our prison system. We need to help former inmates who have completed their sentences to have a second chance at rejoining their communities and avoiding returning to prison by supporting participation in reentry programs and expanding access to prison work programs.
Trump entered the White House having only won 8 percent of the black vote, then antagonized Black Americans with moves like Manigault Newman’s appointment. If you have Omarosa in that role, how serious can you be about our plight and issues? It’s put up or shut up time for the president.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.