Former speechwriter to Barack Obama David Litt noted that the State of the Union address from President Donald Trump Tuesday was a “white-nationalist wish list.” The anger and resentment the president has for people of color in some places was subliminal and in others overt.
Over the course of the lengthy speech, Trump bashed Colin Kaepernick and falsely took credit for the low African-American unemployment. He alluded to the idea immigrants were dangerous and would come to kill Americans and he blamed Black Americans for the opioid crisis killing white people in rural and suburban areas. Finally he embellished the Black homeownership rate and demanded the Black and Latino special guests stand up as if he was trying to prove he had black friends.
As Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star pointed out, black unemployment has been declining for the last decade. Under Obama, the number dropped from 12.7 percent to 7.8 percent. Under Trump it has dropped just 1 percent. Still, because the rate is so low, Trump is claiming the victory over Obama and taking the victory lap.
Black unemployment dropped from 12.7% to 7.8% under Obama. It has dropped from 7.8% to 6.8% under Trump. The area to the right of the red line is the Trump era. pic.twitter.com/YI6AJYreXJ
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) January 31, 2018
At the same time, Dale explained that Trump’s jobs numbers only add up to around 2 million, “probably less,” but not 2.4 million. To get to that number, Trump had to have included the final few months of the Obama administration, before Trump was inaugurated.
To get to 2.4 million new jobs, Trump has to count jobs created in the last three months of Obama's term. It's 2 million-ish, probably less, under him: pic.twitter.com/CbnVQrid4J
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) January 31, 2018
With Colin Kaepernick, Trump made a backhanded comment about “why we stand for the national anthem.” He tried to make it about soldiers, the flag and people of color not having enough respect. He neglected to say that the protest is about police brutality, not soldiers, not the flag and certainly not a little boy who puts flags on the graves of fallen military members.
The notorious DREAMer line was celebrated by white supremacists and denounced by people of color. Equating them with the Mexican gang MS-13 horrified some while others worshiped it.
“Thank you President Trump. Americans are ‘Dreamers’ too,” founder of the Louisiana-based Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, tweeted during Trump’s speech.
“Whether or not the president meant it this way, this is how fringe far-right bigots heard that ‘Dreamers’ line last night,” tweeted CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) called Trump’s equating DREAMers with MS-13 “completely irresponsible.”
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 31, 2018ADVERTISEMENT
When discussing the opioid epidemic, Trump fell back on language that presumes people of color are pushing opioids on vulnerable whites.
“We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge,” Trump said. Pushers and drug deals in this case are doctors and pharmaceutical companies, but that’s not how Trump said it.
Trump really just blamed the opioid crisis on black people, didn’t he?ADVERTISEMENT
— Nathaniel Friedman (@freedarko) January 31, 2018
Finally, Trump demanding the people of color stand up and be recognized. Some said it was as if he wanted to talk about “My African-American.” Others noted special guest Corey Adams didn’t even have a seat.
— Nicki Mayo (@nickimayonews) January 31, 2018
Why is special guest Corey Adams sitting on the stairs? #SOTU
— Salt (@Salted2) January 31, 2018ADVERTISEMENT
The ONLY ONLY person Trump said "please stand up" to, was a black man, a welder, no one else was told to please stand, why is that? #SOTU
— Sammie Hunnicut🐾 (@SammieHunnicut) January 31, 2018
Meanwhile, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members appeared at the speech wearing Kente cloth to highlight the fact that Trump allegedly called African nations “sh*hole countries.” They sat mostly in silence.
Members of Congressional Black Caucus offer no reaction as Pres. Trump says "African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded" in #SOTU address https://t.co/q18EZzVe9p pic.twitter.com/Xxkqc7hFt9
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 31, 2018