Breaking News Emails
For those who previously balked at calling President Donald Trump a racist, his alleged remarks about Haiti and African nations being “sh-thole countries” was the final straw.
The remarks — reportedly made in a bipartisan meeting about immigration Thursday night — aren't the first time Trump has made racially-charged statements, but they have reopened the conversation as to whether it is time to call Trump a racist.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who was in Thursday’s meeting, said he heard Trump’s comments and condemned the "vile, racist" remarks. And former RNC chairman and MSNBC contributor Michael Steele asserted Friday that Trump is racist and that the "evidence is right there."
Republican Rep. Mia Love of Utah, the first Haitian-American woman elected to Congress, said Trump’s behavior is “unacceptable” and has called on Trump to apologize.
"I think the words and his actions tend to speak like one who knows something about being a racist. It must be in his DNA or in his makeup," said civil rights leader and Georgia Rep. John Lewis.
And as his comments came on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and eight years after an massive earthquake magnitude destroyed the country, leaving over 220,000 people dead and over 300,000 injured, some say it also shows racial insensitivity.
Haiti's ambassador to the United States, Paul Altidor, said in an interview on MSNBC Friday that he was surprised and disappointed.
"300,000 people lost their lives on this very day I'm sitting here," Altidor said. "Unfortunately, we are here talking about regretful, regrettable comments allegedly made the president of the United States.”
Isaac Newton Farris Jr., Martin Luther King Jr.'s nephew, told CNN after participating in a White House event honoring his uncle on Friday that he does not believe President Trump is a "racist in the traditional sense," but that he does think Trump is "racially ignorant and racially uninformed."
Journalists have also spoken out on whether Trump should be called a racist.
Thursday night, MSNBC Politics Nation's host and civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton condemned Trump’s “racist and bigoted point of view.”
“Do you have to spray paint the n-word in the Oval Office or have a hood in the Lincoln bedroom to be a racist?" Sharpton said.
CNN’s Don Lemon also spoke out against those “calling me and others who point out racist behavior ‘racist’," citing he and other journalists who have called out Trump’s ‘racism' in the past. Good Morning America anchor and journalist George Stephanopoulos mentioned that it is ABC News’ policy to not repeat profanity, but also expressed disagreement with the decision not to use the curse word Trump used.
Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-Louisiana, said Trump’s comments were “yet another confirmation of his racially insensitive and ignorant views” and reinforce the concerns that “the president’s slogan Make America Great Again is really code for Make America White Again.”
“All of the reservations we have had about negotiating with him on immigration are well-founded,” Richmond said in a statement. “President Trump is clearly more concerned with ending the future flow of immigrants from Africa and the African diaspora than providing relief to DREAMers [undocumented immigrants who arrived as youths] who came here through no fault of their own. Unfortunately, there is no reason to believe that we can negotiate in good faith with a person who holds such vile and reprehensible beliefs.”
The NAACP also condemned Trump's remarks and said using profanity to describe the countries "is not only a low mark for this president, it is a low point for our nation."
Their statement added: “As our nation fights to move forward, our president falls deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of racism and xenophobia."
On Twitter Thursday, the phrase "Trump is a Racist" was trending, with some saying Trump’s remarks were not a surprise.
Trump has long been called racist, dating at least back to 1973 when his housing management company was the target of a Justice Department Civil Rights Division lawsuit over allegations he and his real estate developer father were keeping black and Puerto Rican people out of their apartments.
And in 1989, Trump purchased ads calling for the death penalty for the “Central Park Five,” four black men and one Latino man accused of rape who were later exonerated thanks to DNA evidence — but Trump still insisted they were guilty during the 2016 presidential election.
He also notoriously questioned former President Barack Obama’s American citizenship, Trump called on Obama to release his birth certificate in 2011 and also offered to give a charity of Obama’s choice $5 million if he released his college records and passport.
Then, when Trump announced his bid for the presidency in June 2015, he infamously accused Mexico sending "rapists" and other criminals to America.
Later in the campaign, in May 2016, he suggested Judge Gonzalo Curiel, a federal judge in San Diego who oversaw the class action lawsuit against Trump University, was biased against Trump due to his Latino heritage.
In August 2017, after a 20-year-old white man drove his car into a crowd at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one anti-racist protester and injuring 19 others, Trump remarked that there was "blame on both sides” regarding the deadly violence that was instigated by white supremacists.