All brown people look alike, all brown people accept having their ethnicity described as “Black” or “African-American” and all brown people know one another. While these are all common stereotypes, their everyday application doesn’t make them acceptable — at all.
However, white privilege means you can use a White House press conference to assume that all people with brown skin know one another and are “friends.” Thursday, Donald Trump did just that. He used his press conference to support a racist stereotype and dodge answering a question, to ask veteran American Urban Radio Network Reporter, April Ryan:
‘Are they friends of yours?’
By “they,” Trump meant members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Trump’s question was part of his response to Ryan when she asked about his plan to fix inner cities. While Trump has been quite vocal about his feelings regarding violence in America’s cities, especially Chicago, he has yet to lay out a plan that includes feasible solutions.
Ryan’s specific question was:
‘When you say the inner cities, are you going to include the CBC, Mr. President, in your conversations with your urban agenda, inner city agenda?’
A fair question, it’s highly likely that April Ryan was not expecting Trump to assume that she is “friends” with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Moreover, given his position, it’s highly insulting for Trump to ask Ryan to arrange a meeting with the CBC and if she is “friends” with them, simply because she shares the same skin color.
In addition to asking if Ryan is “friends” with members of the CBC, Trump flippantly asked:
‘Well I would, tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting?’
As tactfully and diplomatically as she could without falling for the bait that would cast her as an angry Black woman if she totally put Trump in his place, Ryan answered with class and grace:
‘I’m just a reporter. I know some of them.’
Oddly, the CBC has reached out to, but was ignored by Donald Trump, thus adding to the grossly insulting nature of his comments to April Ryan. The CBC tweeted:
— The CBC (@OfficialCBC) February 16, 2017
Microaggressions such as the one Trump displayed are the reason white privilege is so easily denied by many people who, like Trump himself, use their privilege to oppress, marginalize and exclude. Although the decision to respond to Trump couldn’t have been an easy one for Ryan, she did:
I am a journalist not a convener! But thank you for answering my questions. https://t.co/fe9cGXG46w
— AprilDRyan (@AprilDRyan) February 16, 2017
Steve Harvey, Ben Carson, Omarosa and so many other people with brown skin have quickly jumped on the opportunity to be tokens in Donald Trump’s facade of diversity, equality and inclusion. It’s refreshing to see that on Thursday, April Ryan used her position to denounce that degree of selling out.
Featured Image via Getty/Maria Tama/Staff