On HBCUs, Omarosa Had a Complicated Relationship with Truth and Service

In August, I launched a petition calling for the postponement of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities 2017 HBCU Week Conference.  It took approximately 36 hours for my petition to reach its intended audience―I know this because in that time frame, one of our high ranking officials contacted me personally to inform me of the progress that my petition had made.  To view the details of my petition, please click here.

At that point, I did not understand the gravity of my decision to start that petition and to some extent, I still do not.  What I do understand is the impact of the Truth and speaking [or writing] Truth to Power.  

There are a few things to learn from Omarosa Manigault Newman.  Omarosa is a Gem; she is very accomplished, well-educated, and shrewd.  Honestly, on some level, I identify with her.  I believe I identify with her, not because I am like her or agree with the things that she has said or done, but because she may be an unclaimed Slytherin (I am a Black Girl Nerd-Harry Potter Enthusiast).

Omarosa Manigault Newman misused and underestimated the power of our collective Truths that, ultimately, conflicted with her representation of the Truth in her work within the Trump Administration.  

When I became a White House HBCU All-Star Ambassador, I made a promise to myself that I would not squander this opportunity to represent my community and campus.  I was determined to affect change.  Being an Ambassador is a privilege; my president, Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, charged my cohort to use our privilege wisely.  We do not represent the White House and we do not solely represent the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  Our first body of people to represent are the students on each of our campuses and the collective body of students who attend HBCUs.  

While many people questioned Omarosa Manigault Newman’s actual position and what was within her White House duty portfolio and purview, Omarosa has repeatedly described herself as someone who would champion, represent, and advocate on behalf of the Historically Black College and University community.  Those within our community know this.  But the only sense we get of her work in this area is Executive Order 13779: White House Initiative to Promote Excellence and Innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities―and even that caused monumental dysfunction by its design and questionable implementation.  

Omarosa, there is no honor in keeping your employment while being functionally defunct—on purpose― complicit, and contributing to the collective dysfunction and the normalization of this administration.  At this point: it is hard to trust people who look like me but work in this administration. The stakes are too high. Our rights, freedoms and liberties, livelihoods, and our schools are on the line.  We have enough people who do not understand our needs, culture, or even that we too are citizens with inalienable rights.  

I do not know who will replace Omarosa Manigault Newman or if we need a replacement for her position.  I do know that she had been working to find someone to chair the President’s Board of Advisors and in August (two weeks before the launch of my petition), I had the opportunity to watch her meet and converse with our HBCU Presidents, at length.  I hope that in Omarosa’s last few weeks, before her resignation is finalized and all badges are revoked, she moves swiftly to have an HBCU President named as Chair of our President’s Board of Advisors.  

Truth and Service still matter.  We must live in our Truths and be of Service to our community.

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