What do Trump’s policies mean for communities of color?

JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s fair to say President
Trump’s history with race is complicated. Critics have long accused the president of
racial insensitivity, from demanding President Obama produce his U.S. birth certificate,
to blaming both sides after last year’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville turned
violent. Yet today, in a meeting with a group of mostly
African-American pastors, the president was praised by attendees as perhaps the most pro-black
president in recent history. Yamiche Alcindor begins our look at the president’s
commitment to communities of color. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: It’s one of President Trump’s
favorite subjects. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
The African-American unemployment rate has achieved the lowest level in recorded history. African-American unemployment is the best
it’s ever been in the history of our country. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: And, as a candidate, President
Trump made this pitch to African-American voters, a pitch that was seen as both controversial
and blunt: DONALD TRUMP: Look how much African-American
communities have suffered under Democratic control. To those I say the following: What do you
have to lose by trying something new, like Trump? I say it again. What do you have to lose? Look, what do you have to lose? You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Today at the White House,
several black pastors said he had helped improve life in inner cities. MAN: So I believe we can break the generational
curse of poverty and people who are isolated, and it’s because of your boldness. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: As part of his plan for
urban areas, President Trump put Ben Carson in charge of the department of Housing and
Urban Development. It’s a role Carson has used to look into tripling
rents for poor tenants using federal assistance. He has also slowed an anti-segregation initiative
and said poverty is a state of mind. Carson has also expressed mixed views on whether
housing assistance program are worthwhile. Those moves have angered some who see his
policies as hurting people of color. Critics of the administration have also pointed
to the Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions has pushed for longer sentences for
those convicted of federal crimes. And the department has discouraged the use
of affirmative action by colleges and universities. Still, some say President Trump has been eager
to embrace black leaders. He previously met with a group of presidents
from historically black colleges and universities in the Oval Office. And today, he said he was eager to keep his
door open. Bishop Harry Jackson was one of the pastors
who met with President Trump at the White House today. He serves as the pastor of Hope Christian
Church in Beltsville, Maryland. Bishop Jackson, thanks for joining me today. You were two seats away from the president. What was the most important thing you heard
from the president about improving inner cities and urban areas? BISHOP HARRY JACKSON, Hope Christian Church:
Well, I heard that he had commitments for four million jobs. And with the unemployment rate already going
down, he’s got commitments for four million jobs, but also a commitment to returning citizens
from prison. And the overcriminalization of the black and
Hispanic communities are a part of a problem that is generational. So I heard good news. I believe that his legacy will be huge if
he actually does something. But most politicians just talk. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, Secretary — Housing
Secretary Ben Carson has said that poverty is a state of mind. He’s also moved to raise the rent on poor
tenants who are using federal assistance. He has also said that he wants to slow anti-segregation
initiatives. What do you think about these policies, especially,
as we know, yes, the unemployment rate is at historic lows, but wages are also very
low? Does it help people to raise rent at a time
like this? BISHOP HARRY JACKSON: Well, I think what’s
needed, to your point, is cash infusion. One of the things he talked about are opportunity
zones or businesses coming to give higher wages. I’m trusting Mr. Trump, as opposed to Carson’s
approaches, though part of the administration, are going to take a long time to kind of work
themselves out. I think that what Mr. Trump is going to do
is going to be much more decisive, much more effective in the short term. And that’s what I’m counting on. I trust that Ben Carson has thought the long
game out from his perspective. But your point is, people are hurting right
now. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, you say you trust
in the president. BISHOP HARRY JACKSON: Yes. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Of course, Ben Carson works
for the president, so a lot of the policies that you’re — it sounds like you’re in some
ways concerned about are things that President Trump has supported. But I want to turn to the Department of Justice. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that
people should have longer federal sentences. He has also said that he doesn’t want colleges
and universities to be using affirmative action. When you look at this, how does this specifically
help African-Americans, when he know African-Americans are disproportionately serving prison times
and are convicted, as are other people of color? BISHOP HARRY JACKSON: Well, I can’t defend
Mr. Sessions at all. I don’t agree with anything that you just
said from his perspective. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: These are all, of course,
things that President Trump supports. BISHOP HARRY JACKSON: I think there’s a little
dissonance between Trump’s vision for America and maybe Sessions walking it out. I can’t speak in much more detail, except
that part of the urban plan has reentry jobs as a part of the thing. So, again, I’m thinking people who have philosophical
direction in the administration, but maybe not the compassion and the heart that the
president himself has. I’m hoping I can partner with bringing two
returning citizens home every year. We’re starting a program called Bring Dad
Home for the Holidays. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: But I guess I want to get
back to the idea of President Trump ran as a law and order president. BISHOP HARRY JACKSON: Yes. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: He is someone who has talked
about the fact that he supports more policing. That’s something that people think will hurt
African-American. How do you — you’re — it’s like you’re separating
Attorney General Jeff Sessions from the president, but the president is the one that is supporting
these policies. BISHOP HARRY JACKSON: Well, I think you can
be for keeping the law, and still be pro-people. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: And that’s how you see the
president? BISHOP HARRY JACKSON: I see the president
himself like that. Talking to him today, he had a bunch of Democrat
— registered Democratic pastors in the room, few conservatives. But I think he won our hearts with, A, his
sincerity, but also by his actions. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, I want to talk to
you — the last thing I want to ask you about… BISHOP HARRY JACKSON: Sure. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: … the NAACP has said that
the president is a racist. He also, after the — Charlottesville, there
was a young woman who died protesting Nazis. He said that there was blame on both sides. Has this president done anything you see as
racially discriminatory, both in words or in policy? BISHOP HARRY JACKSON: Well, I would say this. I believe that there’s a spin some media has
put on. Some of our African-American friends and others,
we’re hypersensitive. So, it’s a tough area. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: But what do you think? BISHOP HARRY JACKSON: I… YAMICHE ALCINDOR: For you specifically, have
you ever seen the president do something that you thought was racially derogatory or racially
discriminatory, both in policy or in practice? BISHOP HARRY JACKSON: No. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: You specifically, you have
never seen anything that he’s… (CROSSTALK) BISHOP HARRY JACKSON: I haven’t. But I have talked to him eyeball to eyeball
about race in America. I have talked to him about the needs of America. And the guy whose eyes I have looked in is
not a racist. And I do believe, though, if we’re going to
fix America’s 400-year-old black-white problem starting with racism, you can’t just blame
45 for the problem and think that makes you OK as a citizen or a legislator, when you’re
not doing anything to change the situation of African-Americans and others. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, thank you so much
for joining me, Bishop Jackson. I really appreciate it. BISHOP HARRY JACKSON: You’re very kind. Thank you for having me.

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