By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
“I was in complete agreement with the CBC and nearly all of their list of complaints.”
Those words weren’t spoken by a liberal Democrat or a civil rights activist. They were spoken by Omarosa Manigault Newman.
But it is not her claim that she was, in effect, a stealth supporter of the Congressional Black Caucus, but that she was fighting as she put it “the same battles in the White House myself.”
So what are we to make of Omarosa with her bold, public declaration in her tell-all book, “Unhinged.” That she was a battling, outspoken civil rights crusader in the White House against the bigoted forces of President Donald Trump and his White House entourage?
Omarosa ticks off all the ways that she was fighting the good fight for blacks: pressing for massive funding and support for black colleges and black businesses, as well as education and health care programs. Then working overtime to try and shave some of the crudest, vilest, and roughest edges off Trump and company’s astounding, unabashed racism.
That was all done, Omarosa says, out of public and media view. Because it was, she was forced to lug the dual heavy cross of being viciously and relentlessly harangued, ridiculed and called names by blacks while facing the withering, blunt racism and hostility of Trump’s cronies; most notably her big nemesis, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. She claims Kelly wouldn’t give her the time of day and undercut her every chance he got, up to and including giving her the ax.
There’s little reason to call Omarosa a liar when she makes the claim that she was trying to do good for blacks and minorities against a hard-crusted Trump and his administration. She would not be the first African American who has gone into a conservative Republican White House and tried mightily to work behind the scenes to push, prod and cajole reluctant and unsympathetic presidents to support or at least not totally slash and burn civil rights and social programs.
There is some evidence even before Omarosa went public with her stealth civil rights battles that she did make the effort she claims. The two meetings she arranged with presidents of historically black colleges and universities and the Congressional Black Caucus were largely her doing.
She did challenge Trump on his de facto endorsement of white nationalist groups after their Charlottesville rampage in 2017. Trump did slightly back away from his make nice with them at least for a moment.
There is also some evidence from her memos and appearances before black groups that she wanted even more engagement between Trump and the black caucus and other civil rights groups. Predictably, she was mostly ignored or stonewalled.
This is all noble but Omarosa shot herself in the foot when she publicly seemed to joust with groups like as the NAACP and the National Association of Black Journalists that she was trying to get to sit down with Trump. Then she loaded up and plugged her other foot when she flippantly said that blacks should “bow down” to Trump and other such nonsense.
Even if Omarosa hadn’t got carried away with her Trump defense, she would still have suffered the same fate as every black who has ever served in a GOP administration or said a kind word about a GOP president stretching back to Richard Nixon in 1968. They have been figuratively run out of town by other blacks.
The choice epithets of “opportunist,” “sell out,” “uncle tom,” “traitor” and much, much worse are always routinely hurled at them.
Now, suppose Omarosa had said no to Trump’s offer for a spot in his administration? Would this have made him any less blatantly anti-black than he is? And, by saying yes to his offer of a job, was she able to damp down some of the worst racial excesses of Trump and his administration cronies?
The answer is no. If Omarosa had never signed on to Trump’s presidential campaign team, or later set a toe in the White House, Trump would still have been Trump and waged the same stunningly naked race-baiting, polarizing campaign. He still would have tried to wallop Obamacare, gut civil rights protections in the various agencies such as education and pack the courts with a menagerie of hard-core, ultra conservatives. He still would never have missed a chance to lambast the NFL players, Maxine Waters and any other black he could vilify.
Omarosa, with blind loyalty to a guy who boosted her career, became a willing accomplice to the most despicable harsh, corrupt and racist administration in living memory. She’ll have to answer for that.
However, now her blinders have been ripped away and the good that she tried to do is a matter of public record. Better still, the good that she’s doing in publicly crusading against the corruption and bigotry of Trump — complete with tapes — must be applauded. Maybe, just maybe, blacks, did get it wrong about Omarosa.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of the forthcoming “Why Black Lives Do Matter” (Middle Passage Press). He also is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One and the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.