A war of words broke out during CNN’s Don Lemon show Thursday when black conservatives addressed the White House’s diversity problem that they say former staffer Omarosa Manigault-Newman helped cause.
Shermichael Singleton didn’t stop at Omarosa, however, he extended his attacks to the White House as a whole.
“Look, Don, you raised the point about the White House giving permission, if you will, to black Republicans to attack Omarosa, how naive are the black people at the White House?” he asked. “I mean, do they think that people truly are going to believe they had no idea whatsoever that some black Republicans were being blocked? I know earlier today, the press secretary said, ‘We have diversity, we believe in diversity. We want to reflect America.’ If that’s the case, where are the black people. I mean, seriously, where are they? Outside of the groundskeeper, the butlers the maids — where are the black people? There are none.”
Paris Dennard cut in astounded and protesting. Singleton, however, maintained that outside of the cabinet the senior staffers, indeed most staffers, “people that are talking directly to the president,” are white.
Dennard persisted, but Singleton cut in telling him, “get over yourself, Paris.”
“Whoa, Shermichael calm down,” Dennard said. “Maybe you’re bitter because you were fired, but let me keep going.”
“Oh! Do you really want to go there tonight, Paris?” Singleton shot back. “I may have been fired but at least I have respect for my community. I’d rather have respect than be a sellout, but go ahead.”
“Watch your mouth, Shermichael,” Dennard said.
“Don’t tell me to watch my mouth,” Singleton zapped back.
That’s when Lemon broke in, shocked at the back and forth. He asked the two to be more civil in their conversation.
Dennard named off a few staffers in legislative affairs and the vice president’s office, but Ayshia Connors, former RNC African American engagement staffer, noted that none of those people have a direct line to influencing the president.
Lemon read a comment from a black person he said he respects a lot, but didn’t identify the source.
“So, black Republicans are mad because Omarosa blocked them from helping the president pass policies that will hurt black people?” Lemon read from the source. “Now they want to be on the team of someone who backs Roy Moore, cuts health care for millions of people, especially blacks and lies about voter suppression and refuses to push restoration of the Voting Rights Act and whose tax plan will have a devastating impact on the black community? That’s strange to me.”
Watch the full battle below:
We are witnessing the birth of a movement — and the downfall of a president
They almost always begin to right wrongs: illegitimate wars; decades of discrimination on the grounds of gender or racial or sexual identity; killings of innocents by police or gun-toting lunatics; oppression by governments wielding unequal laws; the deeply embedded legacy of centuries of racism.
This article first appeared in Salon.
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