Brief #54—Civil Rights

Policy Summary: On August 3, 2018, President Donald Trump remarked on his Twitter account that “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made LeBron look smart which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!” Don Lemon, a CNN broadcaster, and LeBron James, an NBA athlete, are both African – American.

On Friday, August 10, 2018, the President used his Twitter account to again attack and mock African – American NFL players and the decision by individual players to engage in a form of silent protest during the playing of the national anthem before the game. The President stated “Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their “outrage” at something that most of them are unable to define.” Most of the players who have engaged in a form of silent protest before the national anthem are African – American. A number of African – American players demonstrated before the start of some of the NFL’s 2018 pre-season games. The NFL had crafted a national anthem policy that would have been in place for the 2018 season but that policy was put on hold indefinitely after the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) filed a grievance that, as of August 2018, had not yet been heard.

On August 14, 2018, President Trump issued a statement regarding former White House aide Omarosa Manigault – Newman. He said “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!” Ms. Manigault – Newman is an African – American woman who had worked with President Trump on two reality television shows and in the White House as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison. She was later fired from the White House position and just released a book on her time working for the Trump Administration. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE

Analysis: The latest remarks from President Trump towards African – American public figures is another illustration of the President’s tactics when confronted with uncomfortable racial issues. The underlying theme in both incidents is how the President attacks the public personalities. Instead of addressing the merits of the message of NFL protests, LeBron’s interview or Ms. Manigault – Newman’s tell – all book, the President issued a remark that implied that the African – American people involved are not smart or stable enough to know what they are talking about or know what they are doing. His decision to attack the intelligence and knowledge of African – Americans and equate one African – American woman as no better than an animal is nothing more than an attempt to revive tired and disgusting stereotypes that African – Americans are an inferior race or closer to an animal and less than a full human being.

Finally, the President’s comment on the ongoing NFL protests is simply wrong. The players knew full well that their protests were about the systemic oppression against people of color and minorities, police brutality and the inequalities of the criminal justice system. For President Trump to state that the players are unable to define their protest is categorically false. The implied racial insults and casual degradation of people of color without addressing the merits of their message is just another way for the President to try and belittle his critics without actually confronting the uncomfortable truth of what these American citizens have to say. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE\

Engagement Resources:

  • kaepernick7 – former NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s foundation website promoting education and social activism to fight global oppression.
  • Malcolm Jenkins Foundation – NFL player’s foundation committed to youth development in underserved communities.
  • EricReid35 – NFL player’s infopage on how to get involved and make an impact in your community.
  • LeBron James Family Foundation – NBA player’s foundation to positively affect children and young adults through educational programs.

This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact

Photo by Adrian Curiel

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