Multiplatform host Sway Calloway joined TMZ Live on Tuesday (September 13), where he was asked his thoughts on recent comments Sean Combs made on MSNBC regarding the black vote. Sway was asked whether he believed Diddy was telling black people not to vote.
"I didn't interpret it as he said for people not to vote, I took it as he said hold your vote; make sure that these candidates are speaking directly to you and your needs, and make them earn your vote," Sway said.
The hosts pressed Sway further, suggesting that a candidate who began to address black voters directly at this point in the process would be pandering. But Sway maintained that he respects Combs, and that his words were a call for people to get more enlightened about the political process, not to opt out of participating.
"I don't believe that most politicians are necessarily genuine," Sway explained. "I think that a lot of them have great intentions, but if a politician right now spoke directly to the black community about education, about the economy, about health care, about mass incarceration, about drugs in our communities — all the things that are hurting this community — and give a plan on how they wanna eradicate that, I think it will appeal and we can hold them accountable for it. But to step out of the political process altogether, to me, wouldn't be the best idea."
The interview in question was one between Combs and Al Sharpton on September 4. Combs said he believed the black vote would decide this year’s election and argued that African-American voters need to think strategically about how to use their influence. "The heat has to be turned up so much that as a community, we've got to hold our vote. Don't pacify yourself; really revolutionize the game,” Combs told Sharpton. “Make them come for our vote. It's a whole different strategy, but I think we need to hold our vote."
Combs also called out Hillary Clinton, specifically saying, “I hope she starts to talk directly to the black community. It really makes me feel, you know, almost hurt that our issues are not addressed and we're such a big part of the voting bloc."
REVOLT's own research supports Combs' statements. When REVOLT surveyed 18-29-year-olds about the 2016 election and asked why they weren’t more engaged, 45% said, “I cannot find truth in the noise of the media’s political coverage,” and 38% said, “Nothing will change regardless of who gets elected.” REVOLT’s research also showed that more African-American and Hispanics said the reason they were not more engaged in the election is that, “These candidates don’t care about my race/ethnicity,” (21% compared with 11% Caucasian) and that “These candidates aren’t speaking about the issues that matter to me” (28% compared with 19% Caucasian).
Jamira Burley, the national deputy millennial vote director for the Clinton campaign, told REVOLT in a phone interview, “This campaign is being very intentional and not taking any vote for granted — not African-American voters, young voters, or anyone else. The campaign’s strategy is to meet voters where they are and connect with them on issues that they care about.” She added, “There is definitely still a lot of work to be done. This is going to be a close election. Regardless of what the polls say now, we are going to work hard for every vote. We are not taking anything for granted.”
Neither the Trump campaign nor the Republican National Committee responded to requests for comment.
Watch Diddy's MSNBC interview with Al Sharpton below: