The trouble is, Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, better known as “Diamond and Silk” since they began their modern-day minstrel act coinciding with Trump’s run for the office he makes an ignorant mockery of on a daily basis, are witless caricatures, buffoons even, and not real journalists.
With their Amos and Andy-like broken English, exaggerated facial expressions and neck-jerking responses to each other’s ignorant one-liners (“say ‘dat, gurl!”), the two portly ladies are a racist’s delight, a smorgasbord replete with just about every degrading racial stereotype attached to the mythical sassy Black women.
This, however, is not who April Ryan (American Urban Radio Networks), Abby Phillip (CNN), and Yamiche Alcindor (PBS NewHour) are. As you know, all three were targets of Trump attacks during media sessions last week the likes of which didn’t occur until this toxic man began bastardizing the office of the president.
Ryan was a “loser.” Phillip, a Harvard grad, asks a lot of “stupid” questions, and Alcindor, who asked Trump about his prior labeling of himself as a “nationalist” somehow became a “racist” for asking him about the racist moniker he attached to himself.
What Ryan, Phillip and Alcindor are in reality are outliers and role models. They had to work twice (thrice, I’d say) as hard as the majority of their counterparts to arrive at their respective stations as members of the White House press corps, because they are successful in an industry that looks to block their participation altogether. And they certainly weren’t handed anything in the manner that Trump’s father bestowed a business on him.
The media is admittedly mostly liberal. White liberals, if we are to believe conservatives, are stricken with a form of white guilt over this country’s racist past. I would call it, more accurately I’m sure, temerity.
And while the media is overwhelmingly liberal, minorities, who make up 39 percent of the population, made up just 16 percent of the newsroom workforce in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. So rest assured, Ryan, Phillip, an Alcindor, who work for so-called liberal outlets, no doubt have wondered during their careers, “with friends like this, who needs enemies?”
As journalists, you try to walk down the middle of the road all the time. It is your job. You want to give someone — even Trump — the benefit of the doubt, which in the past I have. I have listened extensively to those who suggest he is an equal opportunity insulter, which he is, but I’m not buying that anymore. He is exactly who he appears to be.
He is the same man who in the 1970s was twice sued in federal court because he refused to rent to African Americans. He is the same man who took out full-page newspaper adds asking for the death penalty to be brought back, before a verdict had been reached, in the case of the Central Park jogger case, and it was Trump who refused to admit these Black men did not rape and beat a white female jogger after DNA proved it. And of course it was Trump who blew the trumpet loudest — without a shred of evidence to support his claim – that former president Barack Obama was not an American citizen.
But don’t take my word for it. Rather, believe the world leaders who distanced themselves from him over the weekend in Paris at the celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Uniformly, they denounced Trump’s claims that he’s a nationalist, which is nothing more than a bigot.
I hate to break it to people like Trump who fashion themselves as part of some secret society of coven racists, but the African-American experience in America equips you with a heightened ability to sniff out when a racist is speaking in code and messaging the like-minded. No, another story coming across the wire of a former Ku Klux Klan leader like David Duke or some alt right whacko lauding Trump as their kind of president is not necessary for further confirmation of anything we don’t already know.
Trust me, we heard the same thing you did.
John N. Mitchell has worked as a journalist for more than a quarter century. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and Tweet at @freejohnmitchel.