Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, says Blacks must want to be successful
By Erick Johnson
As millions of Blacks prepare to cast their ballots in a few days, White House adviser and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner drew heavy criticism on Monday, October 26, after saying that Black Americans have to want to help themselves in order for the president’s policies to help them.
The inflammatory comments come in the final week before the November 3 election, where Biden is making campaign stops in Georgia and Florida, and while the U.S. Supreme Court sides with Trump in not extending the deadline for counting absentee ballots in the swing state of Wisconsin.
Democrats in Wisconsin asked the court to allow the counting of ballots that arrive up to six days after Election Day if they were postmarked by November 3. In siding with Trump, the Supreme Court denied the request by a 5-3 vote before the Senate voted to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Earlier that day on the show “Fox & Friends,” Kushner said the president can help people in the Black community “break out of the problems that they’re complaining about, but he can’t want them to be successful more than they want to be successful.”
Kushner then said many people in the anti-police brutality and discrimination protests that followed the death of George Floyd were “just virtue signaling.” The term applies to empty gestures of outrage or anguish on social media.
“They go on Instagram and cry, or they would, you know, put a slogan on their jersey or write something on a basketball court,” Kushner said, dismissing the expressions of outrage and solidarity that many made after video surfaced of Floyd being pinned down with a police officer’s knee on his neck.
“Quite frankly, that was doing more to polarize the country than it was to bring people forward. You solve problems with solutions.”
Black leaders blasted the comments, saying they play on racial stereotypes of Blacks being lazy people who lack ambition and prefer handouts over hard work.
Trump himself did not condemn the comments as his campaign goes after Black voters in a desperate attempt to save his re-election hopes in the final days of the election season.
“Jared Kushner speaks as if Black people are lazy complainers who don’t want to be successful,” tweeted civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented Floyd’s family. “This blatant DISRESPECT shows he has NO understanding of the Black community and its challenges that have spanned centuries. You can’t ‘fix’ these problems from this level of ego.”
U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D-California) said “Jared Kushner is the face of white privilege and nepotism. He doesn’t want to change our racist, broken system because he benefits from it. He’s the last person that should be lecturing the Black community on the value of hard work.”
U.S. Representative Donald Beyer (D-Virginia) tweeted, “Born on third base, thinks he hit a triple. Few in U.S. history have been given as much wealth or power without having to earn a thing as Jared Kushner. His father-in-law gave him the position he is failing at miserably, with deadly consequences. We will remember his casual racism.”
Responding to the criticism, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Kushner and said his comments were taken “out of context as they try to distract from President Trump’s undeniable record of accomplishment for the Black community.”
The comments reinforced concerns among Blacks that the White House has been infected with racism since Trump took office in 2016.
The comments come as many opinion polls show that Trump is trailing Democratic Joe Biden in key swing states that voted for him in 2016. They include Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. In Texas, a deep Red State, Trump leads his opponent by just three points. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found only five percent of Black likely voters plan to vote to re-elect the president and that 83 percent have an unfavorable opinion of the president.
Trump’s campaign in the last several weeks has courted Black males to boost his re-election hopes. Recently, two famous Black males, rappers 50 Cent and Ice Cube, drew criticism for supporting the president. Biden is also pursuing Black voters to keep his lead over his Republican opponent.
During the final presidential debate on October 22, Trump said, “Nobody has done more for the Black community than Donald Trump. Criminal justice reform, prison reform, opportunity zones.”
Biden responded, “We have to provide for economic opportunity, better education, better health care, better access to schooling, better access to opportunity to borrow money to start businesses.” There are at least 30 million eligible Black voters, according to the Pew Research Center, but only 54 percent of eligible Black men voted in 2016. Nearly 13 percent of Black males supported President Trump in 2016, more than three times the rate of Black women.
In Florida, many newly registered voters are ex-felon Black males who are Democrats. Many became eligible to vote in the upcoming November 3 election after organizations paid their legal fees after the Republican Legislature passed a law to keep them from voting.
Blacks are playing a key role in the presidential election after they saved Biden’s campaign during the Democratic Primary, where they flooded the polls in South Carolina and voted for the former vice president over his rivals.