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Concerns about a Trump presidency were prevalent among black women long before he entered the White House.
In exit polls from Election Day, 76 percent of black women said they were “scared” of a Trump win. And in a Gallup poll the summer before the election, 72 percent of black women said they “strongly agreed” that they were afraid of what would happen if their preferred candidate did not win the election.
“Black women tried to save you, America. You didn’t want to be saved,” former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer Zerlina Maxwell wrote earlier this month in Cosmopolitan.
For many of these women, seeing President Trump tweet Monday that the widow of the sergeant killed in Niger was not being truthful felt like the latest reminder that he never had their best interests in mind.
Myeshia Johnson said that Trump’s words to her left her “very upset and hurt; it made me cry even worse.”
When longtime Johnson family friend Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) told media outlets that Trump told Johnson on the call that her husband “must have known what he signed up for,” the president responded by calling the lawmaker “wacky” and dishonest. Johnson said Monday that Wilson’s account was “100 percent correct” leading Trump to dispute the grieving widow’s words on Twitter.
Brittany Packnett, an activist affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, said Trump’s treatment of Johnson is representative of something bigger.
To be fair, Trump has a habit of going after anyone who goes after him — except for the rapper Eminem.
But many black women feel like the attacks from Trump reek of sexism and racism in ways that Trump’s other attacks do not.
“At a time when black women bury their sons and daughters as a result of gun violence, police brutality and service to this country, the lack of respect from this president is unbearable,” Midwin Charles wrote in Essence, a magazine addressing issues relevant to black women. “Worse, he sets a dangerous precedent on how black women should be perceived and treated in America. “When April Ryan, a veteran White House reporter, asked Trump in February if he would include black lawmakers in his meetings about urban policy renewal, he told the journalist to set up a meeting with the politicians after asking if they were her “friends.”
Former National Security adviser Susan E. Rice, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile have also found themselves on the receiving end of Trump’s criticism in ways that, some believe, are different than his hits on those who are not black women.
“Whether it’s a knowing choice from the president or it stems from his utter lack of restraint, the attacks reflect his twin contempt for women and nonwhites,” Slate’s Jamelle Bouie wrote. “Trump pushes back against most criticism, but when it comes from a prominent black woman, the response is more aggressive, more interested in making a spectacle — and an example.”The attacks from the Trump team aren’t limited to the president.
White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly sought to defend his boss from Wilson last week and ended up sharing a false story aimed at painting Wilson as a self-serving politician. Black women in Congress are now calling on Kelly to apologize.
A 2011 tweet of Donald Trump Jr.’s — who often appears to take on his father’s critics for him — has resurfaced where the son appears to mistake Wilson for Waters. He criticizes the Florida lawmaker’s trademark hats by comparing her to an exotic dancer because she criticized tea party conservatism.
Trump did have some high profile black women on his campaign, including his spokeswoman Katrina Pierson, a former congressional candidate, and Omarosa Manigault-Newman, who joined him in the White House.
But the fact remains that only 1 percent of black women said the Republican Party has their best interests in mind. Digging in further on the spat with Wilson and the Gold Star family won’t help that perception.