By Rep. Kweisi Mfume

Every four years the Republican party discovers Black people. It has happened for the last 50 years and this year is no exception. Donald Trump loves to talk about how he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body and, if Black people are smart, we will vote for him, or as he likes to say, “What do you have to lose?” The answer is EVERYTHING.

A part of what makes us who we are, is our ability to hold on as best we can to our dignity, our pride and our independence; notwithstanding those among us who act to the contrary. So, to be told that we are smart if we vote for him and his candidates also implies that we are dumb if we don’t. Our dignity as a people and our independence is insulted by such an assumption. When that tactic doesn’t work, we are then attacked by Black republicans without any track record of service, who say vote for me because democrats don’t care. Well maybe some of them don’t, but voters don’t vote for parties; they vote for people and more often than not they vote for the people they know and trust. They vote against those they don’t know and don’t trust.

Kweisi Mfume (Courtesy Photo)

All of which brings me to Republican Kimberly Klacik who wants voters to elect her to Congress from the 7th Congressional District. You may remember Ms. Klacik from last year when she took pictures of trash and debris in a city alley and then joined with Donald Trump in attacking Congressman Elijah Cummings and calling Baltimore “a rat and rodent infested hell hole where no human would want to live.” Now Ms. Klacik, with a $3 million campaign war chest because of her embrace of Trump and his endorsement of her, wants the people of that same city and congressional district to forget about that and vote to elect her to represent them. It should be pointed out that Ms. Klacik who lives in Middle River refuses to live in Baltimore or anywhere else in the 7th Congressional district. Does she have to, no; but should she, absolutely yes.

It’s easy to drive in from eastern Baltimore County, pick out a poor neighborhood and then walk through it with a film crew to make a commercial about all that’s wrong and then get in your car and drive back out. It’s an altogether different thing to work with the District’s citizens, faith leaders and community organizations day in and day out to make a difference. It’s sad that we saw this same script play out four years ago from the Republican party of Donald Trump. It’s performed by stoking racial fears, feeding stereotypes, scapegoating and finger-pointing.

Ms. Klacik says it is failed democratic leadership that’s responsible for poor struggling communities, but what she omits is that it is more likely due to historically documented red lining by banks and lending institutions based on race. It’s also a byproduct of the overt withholding of loans and credit based on zip code or surname. It’s because of Opportunity Zones created by Trump that benefit areas like Port Covington but overlook zones like North and Penn, and it’s because of numerous other disincentives like dramatically reduced small business loans for small and micro business entrepreneurs looking to create jobs and a circular flow of income in those communities that never materialize.

Make no mistake that it is political pandering to make fun of a Black neighborhood with Black people who are struggling every day to take care of their families and to make ends meet by saying vote for me and I’ll set you free. Yes, it’s the height of hypocrisy to claim to be the savior of our people, but then to be too good to carry the cross. Buying slick television ads produced by 5th avenue media companies will not fool us. We know who we are, warts and all, and we know a Donald Trump trick when we see one. We are not for sale!

Kweisi Mfume represents the 7th Congressional District of Maryland.

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