“Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.” A pretty good old quote that has circled Facebook so many times that no one can really tell you who exactly said it. Nowadays, it seems to be ever so fitting. People can put up fronts, and describe themselves using their favorite words, but nothing really quite tells you who someone is, like the people they hang out with. And the President of The United States has some pretty strange bedfellows.
Earlier this week, Jemele Hill of ESPN, tweeted (exercising her First Amendment rights btw) that she feels that the current President is a white supremacist, who surrounds himself with other white supremacists. Now, where ever could she have gotten such a feeling? Perhaps it was when 45 was campaigning for the Oval, and when asked about David Duke, pretended he did not know who he was? (An action that gave the alt-right the silent go ahead). Or maybe it was when he pardoned Joe Arpaio, a professional racist? (Read more about that here). Arguably, the point where the country took a giant audible gasp was when it took the leader of the free world more than 48 hours to publicly denounce Nazis by name.
Here’s where that earlier quote about friends comes in. You don’t get to win an election by inviting the ugliest of subcultures and then wonder why people associate you with it. Now, Trump never called White Supremacists his friends, but he did not call them his enemies until push came to shov. That’s the problem here.
When Jemele Hill observed this and made her opinion heard, she got a giant corporate slap on the wrist for it. The White House Press Secretary called her tweet a “fireable offense”. That might sound normal -- especially for this administration -- but in reality, The Press Secretary (the person whose literal job is to speak for the President) commenting on a private citizen’s tweets, and calling for her termination is pretty far from normal.
After remarks from The White House and a tweet from 45, there were obviously a few questions. But the one question that remained unanswered was whether or not the Trump Administration would come for Miss Texas (Margana Wood) the way they did for Jemele Hill. The Miss America contender called out Trump for hesitance to call out white supremacists only one day before Hill posted her tweet, and urged the President to make “sure all Americans feel safe in this country”. Cool sentiment right? Absolutely. It is refreshing to see a young woman using her platform to take the time and say what needs to be said. But Wood made this statement a few days before Jemele Hill tweeted out her thoughts, and the administration goes mum? Why? There has always been hypocrisy in the media over who gets to speak their truth and who doesn’t. Jemele Hill is a sports journalist who went online and made her opinion heard. Morgana Wood was a Miss America contender with arguably a much larger platform than Jemele Hill. She went up on stage and expressed her disappointment in the President on a nationally broadcasted television event. Jemele Hill is a black woman who used her personal Twitter to call out trump, and Morgana Wood is a white woman who did the same thing, only on national television. Yet, the Press Secretary only called for the firing of one of these women. Again, I’m all for Miss Texas using her privilege to be critical of the President, but I (along with many black people) are tired of patting white folk on the for doing/saying what we have for years. This whole idea of white exceptionalism and white saviors is dangerous, yes, but not entirely new.
The fact that Jemele Hill is a woman only further pushes the stereotype of “angry and black”. Miss Texas is perceived as a “hero” and “passionate”, yet Ms. Hill is “out of line” and should be disciplined.
Women have been a consistent enemy of this administration, but arguably, Black women have been under attack by this administration and its friends more, from former Press Sec. Sean Spicer treating veteran journalist April Ryan like a child in the press room, to Bill O’Riley making unsolicited comments about Rep. Maxine Waters’s hair (ugh.), to conservatives constantly attacking Susan Rice, President Obama’s former NSA.
No one has asked of Miss Texas to issue an apology, yet Hill had to tweet one. The hypocrisy does not only belong to this administration. It comes right from ESPN itself, who insists that is “neutral” and the thoughts of its anchors “do not reflect those of the company”. When you are silent, you are complicit. You are legitimizing the point of the oppressor. By forcing Hill to publicly apologize, what ESPN is doing is showing The White House that whenever they hear something they don’t like, they are more than welcome to weigh in, and there’s a chance that they’ll get the results they want. Not only is this gross overreach by the administration, it is incredibly unhealthy for democracy.
Trump has a habit of going after people and corporations that don't show him praise (an authoritarian character trait, by the way). Now, the tables have turned on 45, and people are tweeting negatively about him, and he can’t deal. Someone needs to remind Donald Trump that freedom of speech does not only apply to him and his tiny Twitter fingers, nor does it only belong to his groupies who don tiki torches and hideous polo shirts. It belongs to everyone, even those critical of him. That's how democracy works. It appears that this President cannot take what he dishes out, and we are all paying the price for it.
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