Trump’s ‘racism isn’t a thing’ comment drew fire months before Charlottesville

By Omarosa Manigault, CNN • Published 6th June 2020

To criticize the president’s intentions is to criticize the first black president.

Less than a year after his inauguration, there’s little doubt that President Trump has had an impact on race relations in America. While some are arguing that his rhetoric has opened a door for hate crimes and that he’s not the ally he claims to be, there is also debate about his actions.

Racism is nothing new in America, but, under Trump, things seem to be getting worse. Some believe the president has already abdicated his duty to address racism by pushing policies that have taken effect in ways that could create larger issues.

In the final episode of the “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” series in April 2015, Kim Kardashian says, “I hate when people think we’re all talking about racism. Racism isn’t a thing we’re all talking about.”

The president doesn’t respond to that statement until a year later.

When asked on February 20, 2017, by CNN’s Jake Tapper if Trump considers racism to be his top priority, Trump said, “No. No, I think that it’s a very tough subject, and there’s no doubt that our African-American brothers and sisters have suffered under the laws of this country. And quite frankly, this country, if we weren’t (an] economic powerhouse, this country would be a very, very tough place to live. And we have done a tremendous job. And my administration has done a tremendous job in that regard.”

Shortly after that conversation with Tapper, Trump signed an executive order eliminating protections for transgender students.

Further back on January 12, 2016, the family was standing on stage at the Republican National Convention in support of the party’s presidential nominee. During their speech, the family is heard talking about Trump’s policy proposals to increase jobs and the economy.

“We’re going to have people working again and people are going to be so happy that they’ll be writing us checks,” Kim Kardashian says, to cries of, “Yes.”

It appears to have been the last time the family offered a glowing endorsement of a candidate.

As president, Trump has been faced with how to react to hate crimes, but in the months since he was elected he’s been accused of causing more.

On May 22, President Trump addressed a group of white nationalists and members of the Ku Klux Klan during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

After the gathering, demonstrators and counter-protesters clashed, with one woman killed and 19 people injured.

He spoke out against the violence but maintained his stance that the nation’s message needed to shift away from tolerance and respect toward pro-white nationalists.

Trump took heat from businesses around the country for his reactions to the violence.

On June 16, a day after the rally, the owner of Woolworth’s, the restaurant at which President Trump ate, discussed the president’s choice of meal in their response to the news.

“I’m sure he’s not leaving my restaurant. I hope not. I’m sorry, I’m not sure,” the owner, Shaina Gruber, said.

With Trump’s approval ratings dropping to historic lows, many Americans are wondering if his actions will turn out to be harmful for the country. In most cases, this isn’t a criticism the president’s doing; it’s just a question of whether he has the temperament or capacity to address the issues that face our nation.

If we want to move forward as a country, and to truly fight racism, we have to put aside our politics and agree that we must start by continuing to discuss and address racism, whether we’re talking about classism, sexism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism or any other perceived ills that plague our society.

While Trump has been accused of bowing to alt-right rhetoric, he has struck out against anyone who denies and denigrates the contribution of African-Americans to the American dream. It would be disrespectful to not even mention the president’s part in driving this debate, and it would be negligent not to have a conversation about what he’s done to change things, even if it’s at his own expense.

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