Silence of 'Black Elite' Could Help Trump
Tavis Smiley: It's a mistake to assume Clinton has lock on African-Americans
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2016 12:40 PM CST
A Liberty University student wears a Black Lives Matter T-shirt at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., prior to a Donald Trump speech.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(Newser) – If the general election comes down to Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump, conventional wisdom suggests that Clinton has a lock on the black vote. After all, African Americans have flocked to her during the primaries, and she'll have the enthusiastic backing of the nation's first black president. Trump, on the other hand, keeps running into problems like this one involving white supremacist David Duke. But at USA Today, Tavis Smiley writes that conventional wisdom doesn't apply to this election and that Democrats will be making a serious "miscalculation" if they assume black voters will pick Clinton. He lays out a few reasons, perhaps the most interesting being the silence he's noticed from the group he labels the BFOTs—Black Friends of Trump.

These are the "black elite" who travel in the same social circles as the billionaire. "The relative silence of the black establishment class has been chilling," he writes. With a few exceptions from the likes of Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover, nobody in this group seems willing to publicly condemn Trump for his statements or policies. They "either genuinely like this guy or they’re afraid of being caught in his social media meat grinder." It's among the reasons Smiley thinks Trump has a genuine chance with a decent number of African Americans. "Who knows how much he might skim?" he writes. "In a close election, it might not take much." (Click for his full column and the rest of his rationale.)