Detroiters reject Trump and show exactly what the city is made of

Give Detroiters credit for one thing: We’re getting smarter about seeing sheep in wolves’ clothing.

For years, this city has been a punchline for its election habits, notoriously re-electing now-imprisoned Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to a second term despite an ongoing investigation into the crimes he now serves time for. Other elected officials are often chosen for their surname recognition rather than political savvy, and public meetings in the past have been peppered with outbursts of gospel singing, threats of violence and other miscellaneous hyperbole.

But this Labor Day weekend, our smarts kicked back in. Donald Trump came to town, and – save for the protesters showing up wherever he wanted to go – he was ignored. As well he should be.

For those unfamiliar with Detroit’s history as a political bellwether, the city is largely black, holds true to union-blood, made-in-American values, Christian beliefs – yet overwhelmingly Democratic. And so Detroit, the most populous city in Michigan, goes, so does the rest of the state. President Obama has been here a number of times on-and-off cycle, more than likely at a car factory, playing directly to the hearts of these voters.  On a local level, it’s said one can’t elected without the co-sign of the Black church, so pulpits become battlegrounds, and parishioners become demographics.

With this in mind, Team Trump more than likely thought they had a slam dunk when a (pre-arranged, scripted) meeting was set in place with Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Great Faith International Ministries, a so-called megachurch – we’ll get to why it’s “so-called” in just a second – in a mission housed in a faded strip mall an old-time Detroiter may remember as a commercial powerhouse way back when, but any current resident will tell you is just another faded relic.


Many of Detroit’s bigger, more prominent Black churches are in inner-ring suburbs or other neighborhoods, so it seemed silly on first glance for Trump to visit Wayne T.’s place – Wayne T. not only his name, but the name of a a store that sells flashy, alligator-skin shoes, certainly not what Jesus would wear healing the blind and sick, but maybe something a pimp would wear by performing community service in alternative fashion.

Trump’s arrival raised eyebrows, for sure. But nothing more. You see, for all the talk about Detroiters being ignorant and uninformed, the train wreck surrounding Trump’s campaign is certainly something we’re all aware of here.

And we’re also wise to Bishop Jackson’s snakelike persona. You see, the one thing the Trump camp is blatantly unaware of is the idea that all Black churches are created equal. Maybe if he didn’t constantly refer to us all as “the Blacks,” he’d know this. But no, there’s a reason why Wayne T. doesn’t rank in the top tier of Detroit’s Black preacher elite, why his church can’t expand beyond a raggedy commercial strip, why this whole exercise in vanity was just a belly-flop: We know better.

For years, Wayne T. has been known around town as a peddler of holy water – it’s just regular water, and he just prays over it – purchased through a hotline, gator shoes and, more recently, a “ritual” in which he ordained pastors by laying them down on the ground and essentially dry-humping them. (Don’t believe me? Search it on YouTube.) In Detroit, we take our churching seriously, and he’s not it.

Oh, it’s not as if Trump’s escapades would have worked in any other church. But fortunately, other churches knew better as well. Leading one of the protests was the Rev. Horace Sheffield III, a leading Black pastor whose daughter serves on the City Council, as well as Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit, an influential coalition in town. Even the most God-fearing, dyed-in-the-wool Black Christians roundly let their more vicious sides show on social media, and there’s no doubt our praying grandmothers’ probably prayed for Satan himself to step in before Trump would.

Despite Trumpsters’ efforts to produce images of a full church filled with Black folks willing to give ol’ Massa a chance, Wayne T.’s sanctuary was half-empty. Detroiters weren’t having it, so we went about our daily lives. (A lot of us were watching the Michigan game.)

The expectation from the White Christian right that they’d finally find an ally crashed and burned. More importantly, even the idea that Trump would win over Black folks can officially be declared as fizzled out. You have Detroit to thank for this. You’re welcome.

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