Hip hop legend Ice Cube is no stranger to controversy. So when news broke that he was advising the Trump administration on their empowerment plan for African Americans, dissension ensued.
The drama began on Oct. 13 when Trump’s senior advisor Katrina Pierson tweeted, “Shoutout to @icecube for his willingness to step up and work with @realDonaldTrump Administration to help develop the #PlatinumPlan.”
The plan referenced by Pierson is an economic package recently unveiled by the Trump campaign. Among its highlights, the Platinum Plan pledges to “increase access to capital in Black communities by almost $500 billion.”
Reaction to Pierson’s tweet was swift with many expressing outrage that Ice Cube was abetting Trump’s staff. An outspoken advocate for the Black community, Ice Cube’s perceived alliance with the president was shocking.
However, those familiar with the recording artist should not be surprised. For months, Ice Cube has been promoting, “A Contract with Black America.” Crafted by Darrick Hamilton, of The New School in New York, the CWBA is a 22-page socio-economic blueprint intended for bipartisan review.
Never one to shy away from conflict, Ice Cube responded to the backlash in an Oct. 14 tweet.
“Facts: I put out the CWBA. Both parties contacted me. Dems said we’ll address the CWBA after the election. Trump campaign made some adjustments to their plan after talking to us about the CWBA,” Ice Cube wrote.
A day later, Ice Cube bolstered his defense in a series of tweets insisting, “Black progress is a bipartisan issue.”
He added, “I will advise anybody on the planet who has the power to help Black Americans close the enormous wealth gap.”
Unfortunately, Ice Cube’s rationale is sullied by Trump’s behavior. Throughout his presidency, Trump has consistently exploited racial tensions for political gain.
Notably, he referred to the Black Lives Matter movement as a “symbol of hate” in a July 1 tweet and remains hesitant to denounce white supremacy.
But despite his dubious record, Trump is seeking to expand his support within the Black community. And he must. According to Pew Research Center data, Trump only received 8% of the African American vote in 2016.
Is Trump’s sudden interest in Black voters genuine? Probably not, but why shouldn’t Ice Cube speak with him?
I mean, how can race relations in America improve if only one side of the audience is engaged? And for all the anger being levied at Ice Cube, shouldn’t Democratic leadership share in the criticism? Remember, Joe Biden’s team declined to act on Ice Cube’s proposal.
Regardless, vilifying Ice Cube for seeking bipartisan support does not advance racial equality. If political pundits spend less time posturing and more time communicating, perhaps real progress could be made.
Editor's note: This commentary was updated Oct. 22 to reflect Darrick Hamilton's position. Effective Sept. 1, Hamilton assumed a new role at The New School in New York, and is no longer the Kirwan Institute executive director.