WASHINGTON – President Trump has repeatedly bragged about what he has done for black America, highlighting his administration’s funding of black colleges and universities, the creation of so-called zones of opportunity and reform of criminal justice.
But on Monday, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, played into a racist stereotype by appearing to question whether black Americans “want to be successful” despite what he said Mr. Trump has done for them.
“One thing we’ve seen in much of the black community, which is predominantly Democratic, is that President Trump’s policies are the policies that can help people get out of the issues they complain about,” Mr. Kushner in an interview with “Fox & Friends,” the President’s favorite morning cable show. “But he can’t want them to be successful more than they want to be successful.”
In the interview, Mr Kushner said that after the May murder of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody – an event that sparked global protests against systemic racism, and which Mr Kushner called of “George Floyd situation” – many people were more concerned with what he called “signaling virtue” than finding “solutions”.
“They would go on Instagram and cry, or they would put a slogan on their jersey or write something on a basketball court,” he said, an apparent reference to NBA players like LeBron James who joined the protests. national authorities on the issue of police brutality. . “And quite frankly, it did more to polarize the country than to move people forward,” he said. “You solve problems with solutions. “
Mr Kushner’s remarks drew a scathing response from Representative Gwen Moore, a black Democrat from Wisconsin. She tweeted: “Kushner, the small trust fund slum that got rich in the WH, pulls the silver spoon out of his mouth long enough to insert his foot with a racist trope about blacks and success. “
The Democratic National Committee was just as tough.
“According to the Trump administration, when African Americans find fault with the policies that have led to historic unemployment for black families, an explosion of racial inequalities and wealth gaps, and an unchecked global pandemic that has Claimed the lives of over 45,000 black Americans, that means we just don’t want to be successful enough, ”said Brandon Gassaway, the committee’s national press secretary. “This dismissive approach to the issues that preoccupy black voters is indicative of Trump’s callousness and contempt for black life.”
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, defended Mr Kushner by saying his remarks were taken out of context. She accused anonymous “Internet trolls” for attempting to “distract from President Trump’s undeniable record of achievement for the black community.”
Mr. Trump’s frequent references to what he claimed to have done for black America have often been accompanied by one of the most blatantly false claims he has made since joining the White House: that he did more for black Americans than any president with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln.
In his debate Thursday night, his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., scoffed at the president’s claim. “Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history,” he said, looking at Mr. Trump. “He throws oil on every racist fire. Each of them.
And Mr. Trump is exaggerating his successes.
“The idea that Trump did something huge, or different, with regard to HBCUs defies logic,” said Leah Wright Rigueur, professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School, referring to colleges and historically black universities. “It’s virtually identical to what every president has done since Ronald Reagan. The executive order they issued in 2017 used exactly the same language as Barack Obama. “
Mr Trump was praised for signing a criminal justice overhaul bill – with the caveat that the bipartisan coalition of actors, including billionaire brothers Koch, who backed the decision, was firmly in favor. place before Mr. Trump takes an interest in the matter. .
And the opportunity zone tax break consistently cited by Mr Trump has spurred relatively little job creation while disproportionately helping high-profit real estate projects, according to an Urban Institute study released this summer. .
A recent CBS News poll found that 85% of registered black voters believed that as president Mr. Trump “favored whites.” About 79% of those voters said he was “working against” black people.
But Mr Kushner said in the interview he had heard state directors of the Trump campaign across the country talk about a “surge of support from the black community, as they realize that all the different bad things the media and Democrats have said about President Trump are not true.
Key campaign officials said their goal was to win at least 10% of black voters by November, and that increasing support for the president among black voters by as little as two percentage points could sway the election. . In 2016, Mr. Trump won just 8% of black voters.