By Ryan Velez
Steve Bannon and Black business sounds like a crackpot union more than anything else, but The Grio reports that Bannon is apparently trying to make this happen. In a meeting with a group of Black business leaders, he said that he understands the problems they face in growing their businesses, and that his political agenda can help.
“Minority entrepreneurs are the biggest customers of community banks,” he said. “And you know why they didn’t get recapitalized? Because nobody cares. When it comes time to make the deals, you’re not in the room.”
This took place during a roundtable discussion with dozens of Black business leaders from the Carolinas and Georgia. It was sponsored by the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce and was closed to all media except the Associated Press. The chamber chairman, Stephen Gilchrist, went so far as to call Bannon “a friend.”
“This administration has an opportunity to engage a new constituency, and show them what policy really means,” Gilchrist told AP, prior to the event. Bannon did get a warm welcome, mentioning that the Black community needs stronger community banks that they rely on.
Vareva Harris of Benedict College, which is a historically Black college in Columbia asked Bannon which other candidates they should be supporting in order to have a bigger voice in Washington.
“President Trump said, to Black people, ‘vote for me, what do you have to lose?’” Harris queried. “That’s what we’re waiting for. Who else do we need to put there? Just tell us, and we’ll get them there.”
“I’m right here!” gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton, said from the corner of the room. Templeton had also introduced Bannon at a dinner at the Citadel, appearing to receive an award from The Citadel Republican Society.
Bannon’s message seem to be predicated on the idea that Democratic leadership has been taking Black people, their issues, and their votes for granted. Democratic votes have long had Black women as their most consistent voters. While some may not have an issue with him trying to extend a hand, there is a bit of a question regarding whether he is the ideal messenger. The former White House Chief Strategist had a large role in cultivating the alt-right as we know it, and there will always be the question of whether minority business is a cause that he actually wants to help or simply wants to use.