R.W. Bray is someone many would consider an unlikely ally of Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Bray, who is black, is the Texas GOP’s director of African-American Engagement and leads the Republican recruitment of black voters.
Bray is not entirely alone; at least some people in the black community support Trump. Still, the GOP nominee has the lowest approval rating with blacks since Sen. John McCain ran against President Barack Obama in 2008.
The Daily Caller News Foundation talked to Bray and the organizations he works with about getting blacks to vote for Trump and the GOP as a whole.
“We don’t have to come out and say vote for Trump. We go and we collaborate with black institutions on projects that directly affect the black neighborhood,” Bray told TheDCNF.
One such program, Integrity Plus Economic Empowerment Training (IPEET), works primarily with people in inner cities. The program teaches an eight-week moral value training class, as well as four weeks of classes on job readiness and opportunities.
Bray, according to Campus Director Freddie Oliver, acts as a conduit and raises awareness to donors for the organization.
In 2015, 1,053 people registered into the IPEET program, and approximately 245 graduated. Of those who graduated, 120 were hired by successful companies like BRAND Energy & Infrastructure Services, Sanders and Sons Special Touch LLC, and Sunshine Personnel Solution Service.
Early voting hasn’t started in Texas, so Oliver said it’s still hard to determine whether the work has convinced people to vote Trump, but added, “when somebody lends you a helping hand, I don’t really think you care if they are Democrat or Republican.”
To help ensure effectiveness before the election, Trump needs to visit Houston much like he visited the church in Detroit earlier in September, according to Oliver. The black vote is won by connecting with people right in their communities, sitting in the same church pews, and building individual relationships.
“That’s how we’re going to be effective. We’re integrating ourselves into the black community in the same way the Democrats have integrated themselves into the black community. We don’t believe that one party should have a monopoly over the black vote,” Bray told TheDCNF.
But, according to Oliver, there’s one nuance the GOP must remember: not every black community is the same. Instead, communities share some commonalities, but are still distinct and need individual consideration.
While working in these communities, the Republican Party needs to always ask how it can help blacks solve their own problems, rather than claiming to know the problems and vowing to solve them through government aid, according to Oliver.
Empowerment Radio Network, another network Bray partners with, works to get out the message of “economic empowerment through entrepreneurship” to its listeners.
“We deal with social injustice, but our fight is more of an economic injustice fight,” founder Dr. David M. Anderson explained.
Empowerment Radio Network has an audience of 3.5 million listeners with 32 affiliates nationwide. Bray, according to Anderson, is a strong voice that speaks the message of black empowerment.
The GOP has long been a party of economic empowerment, but has recently washed the message out, Anderson said. To get the black vote, Republicans are really going to have to understand the value of the black dollar, Bray added.
“If African Americans are spending their money on certain products and initiatives, it would behoove the GOP to know what their spending averages are and then tap into that,” Bray said.
The GOP already often appeals to black voters because of its school choice platform, namely its promotion of charter schools and the expansion of homeschooling. These issues appeal to blacks, according to Bray, because parents are currently criminalized for trying to send their children to better schools in different areas from where they live.
Yet, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People recently declared a moratorium on charter schools despite approval from many blacks.
Trump and GOP leaders need to hammer this issue in order to gain traction with the black vote, according to Bray.
“What the Trump campaign can do is start pointing out these idiosyncrasies, pointing out these things that don’t make sense and that are adverse to the black community. These are things that white liberals have taken and started to champion for their own agendas,” Bray said.
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