Former RNC Chair Slams Trump for Making Racism Acceptable Again

Michael Steele said that Trump “was the man picking at the scab” of racism in the U.S. "until it became a wound again."


Michael Steele, who served as the first Black chairman of the Republican National Committee until 2011, said that President Donald Trump is to blame for retro racism in the United States.

In a panel discussion on MSNBC, which aired Monday, Steele explained why he thinks Trump has exacerbated racial tensions.

“On race, as I’ve looked at it, and absorbed a lot of this, particularly the Charlottesville period between that Saturday and Tuesday, what I saw the president do effectively and what he did throughout the campaign was pick at the scab of race,” he said. “Picked at it, picked at it, picked at it until it became a wound again.

“The healing process that began in the ’50s and ’60s, with the marches, the great speeches by King, certainly involving the assassination of leaders, all that came flashing back for a lot of people. And, now you saw young men in their early 20s and teens in nicely tailored suits, not hoods, not with torches, but with Tiki torches, out saying and protesting and claiming the same thing around issues of race that our parents and our grandparents had to deal with.

“And that for a lot of people was just very unsettling. And, the one person you go to in that moment, as we have, we turned to Reagan, we turned to Johnson, we turn to our presidents to sort of help us process and deal with this.

“He was the man who was picking at the scab.”

Steele added that race relations must remain in the national dialogue in order for a resolution to occur.

“The problem is that we still sanitize race and we still sanitize the conversation around race and that’s something that has to change in order to effectively deal with it.”

Steele has also spoken out against the lack of diversity in Trump’s administration. He occupied the Oval Office last January with the least diverse presidential Cabinet in decades. And, with all of the resignations and new appointments over the past year, it still remains predominantly white and male.

With the exit of Omarosa Manigault-Newman, Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, is the only Black person among Trump’s Cabinet members and senior staffers.

“Black diversity in the White House is almost oxymoronic at this point,” Steele said last month. “It’s not for a lack of names or people who qualify … This continued pretense that it’s so hard to find [people of color] to do the job is just ridiculous at this point.”

He also slammed Trump for endorsing Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore, who once said America was great during times of slavery.

Steele tweeted in December:

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  • While Steele is absolutely correct that Trump has exacerbated racial tensions, it hard to figure out what kind of blinders Steele has been wearing all these years that allowed him to — erroneously — conclude that racism had healed (to the “scab” point) within the Republic Party and was not already an open, oozing, wound.

    • He reminds me of those deluded animal handlers who get too close to their lions, tigers, pit bulls and bears – and get killed for their magic thinking.

      As the old adage about the girl and the snake (scorpion) ends, “you knew what I was when you picked me up.”

  • Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

    Steele, unlike a Clarence Thomas, does not have that guilt-driven self-hatred, and still dares to speak out. How long before Steele, like Colin Powell, finds himself driven out of “his” party by the kind of short-sighted idiots who still see nothing except the math of “there are more white racists than blacks in America, so we must cultivate the white racist vote”? The party of Lincoln is now the party of the proud heirs of Jefferson Davis; can irony possibly taste more bitterly foul?

  • About time Michael Steele realized he is BLACK, but I’m sure anyone in the T-rump administration would have reminded him of his race if he were to take a job in their camp! And, Michael Steele even came out against the Head of the Republican Pedophile League, Roy Moore! Wow, maybe Michael Steele is trying to become a Democrat?

  • you Republicans are at fault for endorsing this man or sub human for that matter. I hope that your party goes down the toilet while the Democratic Party becomes the party of choice.

    • Michael Steele shouldn’t be vilified for his comments, nor should we pick at his comments about President Trump “picking at scabs”. The story is about Mr. Trump’s racism and not about Mr. Steele’s political affiliation. Blacks (inclusive of African Americans) are free to join the RNC and believe in Republican policies (generally speaking), and their association with the RNC shouldn’t be conflated such that their political affiliation is a tacit endorsement of the racist behavior of their party leaders. I have many republican friends (black and white) who are disgusted with the President and his team’s racist agenda. We should stay focused on the character and behavior of the person who is the subject of Mr. Steele’s comments. Mr. Steele may be a fiscal and social conservative, but I’m not aware of him harboring racist attitudes toward Black people, or other ethnic groups. Let’s give Mr. Steele the benefit of the doubt, and reserve our criticisms for the President and those like him who advance a racist agenda.

        • I once thought as you do, but upon reflection I realized that if Nelson Mandela, or Ghandi or MLK harbored those same sentiments where would we be. I simply don’t believe that vilifying everyone in an opposition group, and returning insult for insult will result in any meaningful progress. That is the Trump way. We have too many hard lines in the sand which marginalize the opportunity for meaningful discussion and reconciliation. It was Dr. King’s embrace of whites and others who had evolved in their understanding of the issues related to racal segregation that helped to fulfill some of his dream. All republicans aren’t bad and all democrats aren’t good. That’s just too simplistic a view of the diversity of our nation, and it’s definitely not a strategy for effectively dealing with the race issues that have plagued America for over 400 years. Our history on this matter speaks for itself.

          Thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts.

          • Wait. You once thought as I do and the evidence of the past year changed your mind to be nicer to bigots?

            Martin Luther King was assassinated decades ago. Our country has had all of that time to reflect, all of the data to absorb, all of the misery to observe and we elected Donald J Trump – an overt liar, racist and sexist.

            White Americans have not owned up to this mess. White people who think as our audience does did not make it uncomfortable enough for people to be bigots in public. If our society had evolved, the former beauty pagent dressing room lurker would never have had invitation by the republicans to the podium to call Mexicans rapists.

            But the fact is that our country is still a racist society (as measured by education, criminal justice, life expectancy, infant mortality and representation in every possible position of power. ( and measured by the president’s own appointments). As a result of being too polite, we have an addled racist sexist who feels it necessary to tweet about his button being bigger than a tinpot dictator’s button.

            Our society’s racism has put a dullard racist liar in control of the world’s most powerful military.

            It is long past time to speak plainly.

          • The evidence of the past couple of years tells me we have a significant problem with racism in America and there’s a lot of work to do. But, as we saw with Charlottesville, the clashes between the opposing sides (primarily white on both sides) didn’t do anything to advance the conversation beyond street brawls. All that happened was people were outraged, injured and killed and hatred has persisted. No policy changes or organized strategy to effectively address these vexing issues has emerged.

            There was NOTHING in what I said that suggested that we shoudn’t talk plainly. What I said is that we should be strategic, and I’ll add for clarity that we should be unrelenting in our expectations and well organized beyond throwing rocks at each other. As an African American male I’m well aware of the state or racism in America. The examples of Dr. King and Mandela were provided as evidence that there are other ways to achieve an objective – equality for all. The fact and manner of their death wasn’t the point. Indeed, time has passed, yet the basic nature of racism remains the same. Blacks continue to be portrayed as lazy, un-inventive, dangerous takers from America while ignoring the enormous barriers that have been institutionalized into our society to insure our assention to full brotherhood in American is limited. As you well know, this nation was built on the whipped backs of African Americans yet the narrative that slaves had it good persists. When and where will we have a meaningful conversation about race in America?

            You seem to want to focus on the obvious flaws of a man and his lap dogs, while I’m suggesting that we (possibly through your organization) elevate the discourse to topics that are more meaningful to the advancement of the Majority of American citizens (black, brown, and others). We need to be willing to accept converts into the fold, and not be so strident in our philosophy that we foreclose the opportunity for others to be converted. Thie day of reckoning is coming soon to this nation, as it was in South Africa. I want us to be ready. In hope my plan talk clarifies my thoughts on this topic. If we can’t accept different opinions amongst the converted, then how will we hope to convert the unconverted?

          • Charlottesville was important because the public got to see a large-scale demonstration by white American Nazis and a counter protest, then got to hear the president say there were “good people on both sides”.

            That was so repulsive to the overwhelming majority of Americans that trump lost all credibility on that day. His administration is still exceptionally dangerous, but it’s a zombie. That’s why pervert Moore lost. McConnel and Ryan haven’t seen the tea leaves yet, neither have Pelosi or Schumer. This is when we make a stand and declare what our values are.

            I don’t care to convince or convert anyone. The job of this publication is to inform those already convinced that human equity is a core ethical value. That said, I warmly shook the hand of my neighbor who humbly apologized for voting for trump. We all make mistakes.

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