In President Trump’s ongoing attacks on former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman, he appears to be employing a level of intensity that confirms what many black women have always thought about Trump.
Trump tweeted Tuesday:
When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2018
It was one of nearly 10 tweets over several days attacking Trump’s fellow reality-show star and someone who was formerly the highest-ranking black staffer in Trump’s presidency.
And those who have been more critical of the president saw something familiar in his words and tone that some think Trump tends to reserve for one of the demographics that voted against him at the highest percentage: black women.
Say what you want about @Omarosa and her recording private conversations. I’m not saying that I agree with it, but I have a serious issue with a white man dehumanizing a black woman by calling her dog. This is disgusting! https://t.co/65j5xriixf— Shermichael Singleton (@Shermichael_) August 14, 2018
Let me be clear: I am not an @OMAROSA fan. But I will NOT (memo to sisters) stand by and watch another black Woman savaged by #JohnKelly #SarahSanders @realDonaldTrump calling one of us “vicious” “not smart” “lowlife” is CODE for ALL of us. Always has been! #Omarosa #Unhinged— Sophia A. Nelson (@IAmSophiaNelson) August 14, 2018
For those keeping track, the number of black women on Trump’s attack list continues to grow. They include such people as Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), White House correspondent April Ryan, media maven Oprah Winfrey, former ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, former national security adviser Susan E. Rice and former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile.
Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) found herself attacked by the president last year when she told media outlets that Trump told Myeisha Johnson, whose husband Sgt. La David Johnson was killed when dozens of armed militants ambushed U.S. and Nigerien troops, that her husband “must have known what he signed up for.” The president responded by calling the lawmaker “wacky” and dishonest. Wilson and Johnson are both black women. To Wilson, Trump’s language toward Manigault Newman was the latest example of the president’s lack of respect for black women.
Black women were among Trump’s earliest critics during his campaign and one of the groups who feared most what could come of a Trump presidency. 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.
This is in part why Manigault Newman’s presence on the campaign and in the White House was so important to Trump. Some of the most frequent and enduring attacks on the president since he launched his campaign have been that he is racist and sexist. Given that perception, some black women feel affected on two fronts by Trump’s vision to make America as “great” as it was in times past.
Attorney and radio host Midwin Charles suggested that the language Trump directs toward black women is a public safety issue, considering how much some Trump supporters are willing to make the president’s personal enemies their own. She tweeted:
“You don’t think Trump’s tweet calling Omarosa a dog provides license to fools to harm black women & girls? Think again. It’s dangerous and must be treated as such.”
As has become the norm when the president lasers in on an enemy, Trump supporters joined the president in attacking Manigault Newman. And many downplayed allegations of racism and sexism, claiming that Trump is vicious in his attacks of everyone he feels crosses him.
But for some, that in itself points to a much larger problem: a global leader who responds to slights by not “going high” or aiming to “be best,” as America’s two most recent first ladies have encouraged, but by responding in a way that confirms some Americans’ greatest fears about him — that his pledge to improve the lives of Americans does not include all Americans.