Lately, the White House and big corporations seem to be angrier about the words “racist” and “white supremacist” than they are about racism and white supremacy.
A Twitterstorm of controversy erupted after ESPN host Jemele Hill called President Trump a “white supremacist.” In response, ESPN publicly censured her, saying her comments “do not represent the views of the network,” and that she had recognized her actions were inappropriate. Reportedly, ESPN even tried to take Hill off the air. But that wasn’t enough for the White House. Acting in her official capacity, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Hill’s tweets were “certainly something that I think is a fireable offense.”
That’s the press secretary for the same man who called former president Barack Obama a racist when he worked for NBC. The same man who dragged his feet when asked to disavow the Ku Klux Klan, and who is now doubling down on his claim that “both sides” were responsible for the violence at a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, which ended in a woman being run over allegedly by a man with white supremacist ideologies.
Black women helped send white men into space. And won back-to-back tennis titles. And changed the makeup industry. We have even made our way into the White House. But lately, it seems those in power would rather have black women around the world sit down and shut up, especially about the racism, sexism and white supremacy that threaten our daily lives.
Hill is hardly the first public figure to call Trump a bigot or white supremacist. My colleague Dana Milbank called candidate Trump a bigot and a racist back in 2015. This week, Miss Texas Margana Wood, during the question-and-answer portion of the Miss America pageant, dragged Trump for his response in Charlottesville. She’s been safe from Trump’s itchy Twitter fingers. Yet Hill, a black woman, is the only one the Trump administration wants fired from her job for saying so.
The silencing of prominent black women who speak out about racism isn’t limited to America. In Great Britain, L’Oreal Paris recently fired black transgender model Munroe Bergdorf for posting social media messages about white privilege. Labour Party lawmaker Diane Abbott has spoken about the increased racism and sexism she’s faced as a member of Parliament, even to the point of a Tory councillor sharing a picture of her as an ape with lipstick.
When it comes to the fight for social justice and equality, don’t believe the Pepsi-fied version that would rather erase and replace black women with the likes of Kendall Jenner. Black women have been on the front lines against racism, sexism and white supremacy since the beginning.
For more, watch the video above. In short, we weren’t silenced then, and we won’t be silenced now.