Talk Back

An Open Letter to Donald Trump


Dear President-Elect Donald J. Trump,

Upon your election, you told the world that you intended to be a president for all Americans. We welcomed and were somewhat relieved by that statement. However, since making that statement, some of your supporters have made it clear that they do not honor your pledge.

According to the latest numbers released by the FBI, anti-Muslim hate crimes in the United States rose by 67 percent – from 154 incidents in 2014, to 257 in 2015. This recent uptick in hate crime across America is widely viewed as a consequence of the divisive tone and statements that characterized your presidential campaign. Classroom teachers have openly intimidated Muslim children by calling them “terrorists” and telling them they would be deported once you took office. All of this is happening in your name.

Vicious attacks have been perpetrated on African Americans, Hispanics, and Muslim people on the streets. Women in hijabs have been physically assaulted and threatened as they attempt to do nothing more than go about the business of their lives. Places of worship have been desecrated with hateful graffiti. Again, all in your name.

While we applaud your recent entreaty to your supporters to “stop it,” we believe you must go further and acknowledge your role in inspiring and uplifting their animus in the first place. You have consistently given tacit approval of these provocative actions with the divisive and hateful rhetoric you relied upon throughout your campaign. Your calls to “stop it” should at least be as strident and loud as your campaign rhetoric.

As municipal leaders, the members of the African American Mayors Association build relationships across party lines to serve our constituents. Our mayors, as part of a diverse bipartisan group of elected officials, recently met with Republican National Committee leaders to hopefully foster a shared vision of America’s future. Our country’s success must be inclusive, and encourage all Americans to live their hopes instead of their fears.

In the early days of your transition to power, a very disturbing trend has already emerged. This includes your appointment of Stephen Bannon, a White nationalist, as chief strategist and senior counsel to your administration, drawing up a plan to register all Muslims, threatening mass deportations, and naming Jeff Sessions as your choice for U.S. Attorney General.

As president-elect, you must act decisively before the country spirals further into discord. Now is the time for you to make uniting the country an urgent priority, not to sit idly by while hatred and intolerance rage.

We call upon you to appoint people to your transition team and to cabinet-level positions that represent the whole of this nation, rather than extreme factions. We ask you to work with mayors and other policymakers to ensure that the policies that your administration pursue lead us collectively on a path to prosperity and indeed make America great. We, the members of AAMA, representing over 500 mayors from across this great nation, offer our help and support in making America greater than it has ever been.

We are watching and waiting for you to act as the leader you claimed you would be. Count on us to hold you accountable on behalf of our constituents.

Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James

President of the African American Mayors Association (AAMA)

The African American Mayors Association (AAMA) is the only organization exclusively representing African-American mayors in the United States. AAMA exists to empower local leaders for the benefit of their citizens. For more information, visit the AAMA website.