Laura Washington: President offends African Americans

SHARE Laura Washington: President offends African Americans

President Donald Trump (left) holds an African American History Month listening session with Cabinet member Dr. Ben Carson at his side at the White House last week. | Michael Reynolds/Getty Images

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Let’s hope we are not headed back to the days of Stepin Fetchit.

We were so spoiled. In Barack Obama’s time, black leaders and activists were accustomed to sophisticated, articulate dialogue with the president of the United States.

The former president’s relationship with the African-American power class wasn’t “all good,” but now, the Obama era is feeling like halcyon days.

Donald J. Trump’s Black History Month listening session would have been comedic, if it weren’t so troubling.


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On Wednesday, Trump kicked off America’s annual celebration of black achievement and excellence with what he called “our little breakfast” at the White House. It was attended by about 20 African-American supporters and staff.

Headliners included Omarosa Manigault, a former contestant on Trump’s reality TV show and now a communications advisor, and Dr. Ben Carson, Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the only African American in Trump’s cabinet.

Where were representatives from the NAACP and National Urban League? Longtime champions and activists like the Rev. Jesse Jackson, or the Rev. Al Sharpton? Not even U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, of South Carolina, the only black Republican in the Senate?

The get-together was confirmation that Trump’s blather about addressing black concerns is, as former Vice President Joe Biden might say, “a bunch of malarkey.”

While his guests sat grinning around the table, Trump whined about the “biased” media. He bragged about his election victory.

Then it was time to get down to business. One participant, the Rev. Darrell Scott, senior pastor of the New Spirit Revival Center spoke up. The Cleveland-area minister pitched setting up a confab with the “top gang thugs” to stop the violence in Chicago.

“I was recently contacted by some of the top gang thugs in Chicago for a sit-down,” he told Trump.  “They reached out to me because they associated me with you. They respect you.”

The thugs, Scott offered, were willing to help “lower that body count” in exchange for federally funded “social programs.”

Trump nodded solemnly and agreed it was an idea worth pursuing.

Scott’s outrageous claim was insultingly ridiculous.

The preacher laughed when Fox 32 Chicago reached him by phone later that day.

“No, I mean, come on now,” Scott laughed when reporter Mike Flannery asked him to back up his claim.  Scott said he “misspoke” and admitted that he had talked to just one “former gang member.”

This is where Trump is getting his advice.

Trump seems intent on reminding America that our “inner cities” are paralyzed by violence, crime and poverty.

His tweets and proclamations about black folks are meaningless misdirection. Whenever he talks to or about African Americans, he speaks in simplistic, trivial and offensive terms.

He is not interested in engaging us. He’s interested in making us look like fools.

At the meeting, Trump was sitting next to Carson. Declaring that “we will work very hard on the inner city.” Patting Carson on the shoulder, he added, “Ben’s going to be doing that, doing that big league, big time,” Trump said.

Carson is a celebrated brain surgeon.  He has zilch experience in government or public policy.

Looks like we’re headed back to the dark ages. The Donald just needs a pith helmet and his yes men.


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