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:
Your refusal to acknowledge you've just endorsed an alleged pedophile for the sake of "a vote" tells me Roy Moore will be a Trump Puppet and America no longer has a moral compass under your "leadership". https://t.co/iRhJb69rpJ
— Michael Steele (@MichaelSteele) December 4, 2017