The behavior of President Donald Trump and his administration illustrates an ongoing disregard for Black women.
“We are sick and tired of women being undermined, being dismissed,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said Monday on MSNBC’s “The Beat.” She added, “And, Black women in particular being called names.”
The 17 women of the Congressional Black Caucus issued a statement demanding White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly apologize to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) for sharing a false story about her, as he attempted to defend Trump, to portray Wilson as a grandstanding politician.
“We were appalled by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s statements where he called Congresswoman Wilson an ‘empty barrel’ and accused her of taking credit for securing funding for a new FBI Building in Miramar, Florida,” the statement says.
MSNBC Host Ari Melber asked Waters, “Was [Wilson] being treated differently because of her race and her gender?”
“I think the fact that, first of all, [Trump] called her ‘whacky,’” Waters said. “Secondly, that he didn’t back down. That he simply talked about her in a way that was not respectful.”
Only 4 percent of Black women voted for Trump in 2016. Former First Lady Michelle Obama was particularly critical of Trump, without ever mentioning him by name. Trump trying to discredit the statements of Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson who was killed Oct. 4 with three other soldiers in Niger, solidified for many Black women the reason why they didn’t vote for him.
Back in April, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) suggested that the racist scrutiny Obama was subjected to as the first Black first lady had been publicly reemerging.
The president and his supporters launched an attack on former National Security Advisor Susan Rice based on unsubstantiated reports that she illegally, and for political purposes, “unmasked” Trump associates caught up in a surveillance operation. Republican Sen. Tom Cotton has referred to Rice as “the Typhoid Mary of the Obama Administration.” Trump said Rice committed a criminal act.
Last month, Rice testified before House lawmakers saying she “unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York late last year,” according to CNN.
Committee member Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) said of Rice’s testimony: “I didn’t hear anything to believe that she did anything illegal.”
In March, former Fox News host and friend of Trump Bill O’Reilly mocked Waters on air while watching a video of the congresswoman giving a speech on the House floor against the racist behavior of some Trump supporters.
“I didn’t hear a word she said,” O’Reilly said. “I was looking at the James Brown wig.”
His disparaging comment inspired a viral hashtag dedicated to the experiences of Black women in the workplace.
The same day Waters was insulted, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer reprimanded journalist April Ryan. He told her at one point to “stop shaking your head” as he was answering her question.
A high-profile Black woman in Trump’s administration, Omarosa Manigault, director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, is said to be on her way out.
“Her days are numbered, but Trump is trying to give her time to resign,” a source told The New York Daily News.
In regard to Trump’s treatment of Wilson and Johnson, Waters said it reflects his demeanor toward people of color in general.
“[Trump] seems to have this tendency to talk down to people of color, to treat them with disrespect,” she said. “And I think this adds to it.”
“I think this adds to the suspicion of him and the way that he thinks about minorities, and Black people in particular.”
Recently, Trump has been calling for the firing of NFL players, who are predominantly Black, who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality, a move initiated by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016.
At a rally on Sept. 22 in Alabama, Trump said:
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now.’ Out! He’s fired.”
At a DiversityInc event last month, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. said Trump’s comment essentially disrespected the mothers of the athletes.
“So now Trump comes and says to ‘fire the son of a bitch,’” Jackson said.
“Black mothers are not bitches, they’re queens who produce champions. They’re not bitches who produce thugs.”