Omarosa Manigault-Newman has begun her revenge tour against Donald Trump and the Trump Administration, making the rounds on morning talk shows to promote her new book exposing the White House’s dirty laundry.
Her tour includes secret tapings, personal insights and alleged revelations on a White House in chaos and powered by racism, misogyny, and backstabbing.
That’s much of what we already knew about the Trump White House. And everything we don’t know, with whatever proof she furnishes, will only strengthen what we believe about the executive branch of government and the branch’s resolve to make us see anything but what our eyes and ears reveal to us.
That dueling resolve presents a problem because if any of Newman’s revelations involve HBCUs, it could create significant disruption for a sector in recovery. Millions in loans have been deferred and forgiven, regulations rolled back and unique relationships forged between HBCUs and the White House, all which began with a wildly misunderstood photo opp and the former ‘Apprentice’ star serving as an HBCU surrogate.
Now the surrogate has gone rogue, and based on information yet to appear on secret tape or in a tell-all book, should HBCUs be worried about what Omarosa could say about the administration’s outreach to black colleges, or how its relationship with black colleges may change as a result?
It seems so long ago that Omarosa was the chief liaison between HBCU presidents and the President of the United States, working behind the scenes with leaders from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the United Negro College Fund and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education to make HBCUs the bipartisan apple of Trump’s eye.
Many of the ideas about how HBCUs as a centerpiece of Trump’s urban affairs portfolio, despite a 21% approval rating among African Americans, came in meetings in which she frequently sat and added to the conversations. There were rough spots, no doubt; but to say that she had zero influence is to say that her conversations with advocates and presidents were inconsequential to the administration’s willingness to address long-standing issues with substantive policy.
So how much of those HBCU-centered talks could be rehashed in her new book, or in future recordings? How many could reveal something more nefarious about the intentions of Trump or his cabinet members beyond trolling Barack Obama with greater policy approaches on black issues?
Where Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Deputy Assistant Secretary Adam Kissel, and several others are long-engaged with HBCUs, do we expect the same from actors like White House Chief of Staff John Kelly or former strategist Steve Bannon?
And if negative recordings, emails or personal reflections with HBCUs as a topic do exist, do we expect Omarosa to show restraint against using them to push book sales, even if it could mean dialed back cooperation between the schools and the federal government?
Good has come from the unlikely marriage between HBCUs and Donald Trump. The diary of a jilted bridesmaid likely wouldn’t destroy the union, but HBCUs deserve better than even slowed progress on what has developed over the past two years.
HBCUs are more than a reality show plot point; they are catalysts for the short-term political interests of the GOP and long-term sustainability of the black communities dependent upon their growth.
Regardless of what Omarosa may or may not say, they should continue to be treated that way.