Dr. Omarosa Manigault is one of the most underrated political players to emerge out of the 2016 election. She’s been fired countless times and comes back stronger, with a better position than the last. Framed by countless media outlets as fighting an impossible battle as Donald Trump’s director of African American outreach, Omarosa has secured a position in President-elect Trump’s White House as his public engagement intermediary. Laugh though liberals may, Omarosa has already stunned Republicans with an invitation-only “listening session” between Trump’s transition team and various members of the black church and African American centered organizations. Reportedly, between 80 and 100 invitees, many were African Americans that did not support Trump’s bid for the presidency. On the face of this, it would seem Omarosa is trying to bridge a gap between black conservatives, black interest groups, and the Trump administration.
A self-professed Democrat for 20 years and an early 2016 Hillary supporter, could Omarosa be a fox in the Republican henhouse? Her outreach event sounds bipartisan with an evangelical undertone, sans most minority (including the few black) congressional Republicans. Many black liberals were angered at the black invitees who answered Omarosa’s invitation for discourse. However, Hilary O. Shelton, senior vice president and director of advocacy and policy for the NAACP in Washington, is quoted as calling the meeting “a great opportunity” to assist communities the NAACP focuses on. Trump, who supports stop and frisk, an unconstitutional and harmful policy to minorities, is defended by Omarosa as “a personal friend” who she “knows is not racist”.
An ordained minister with a Ph.D. from Howard, Omarosa’s credentials and proactiveness may open a dialogue between Trump and some black clergy at least. Bishop Harry Jackson considers Trump an “outsider”, different from both major parties. The bishop heads a Maryland church with 3000 members, many of whom engage in Christian infused activism “to heal the racial divide”.
Trump has in Omarosa an avid volunteer for the black community to act as his voice and ears to minorities. Her story is relatable to people raised without wealth and who have been affected by crime. She was born in Youngstown, OH, and her father was murdered when she was 7. At 23, she worked for Vice President Gore’s office. Omarosa the political staffer existed before Omarosa the reality television star. She is at times unpredictable, uncompromising, and, unlike her boss, Omarosa has very thick skin. If she can keep the job, Democrats should stop ignoring Omarosa and get in front of her.
Omarosa has repeatedly said her support for Trump is based on her wish to help black people. Crime, job insecurity, and disagreement over how to handle undocumented immigrants – many working class black voters have the same concerns as working class whites. Not to mention the divide between the LGBT community and the black church. By exploiting these differences and dissatisfactions among the Democratic base, could Omarosa put part of the black vote in play?