Jemele Hill had every right to express her disdain for Trump.
ESPN has apparently accepted Jemele Hill’s apology — an apology she was strong-armed into giving after tweeting her personal opinion on Donald Trump. Acknowledging the white supremacy in his rhetoric and practices, she referred to him as “bigot,” a “threat,” and “the most ignorant, offensive president of [her] lifetime.”
Considering Trump’s comments following the display of white terrorism in Charlottesville, Hill’s tweets are indeed biting and true. Donald Trump is a white supremacist. He has proven his racism (misogyny, xenophobia, nationalism, etc.) many times over: through his role in the Central Park Five case, his obsession with President Obama’s birth certificate, his ungrounded accusations that Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals, his unconstitutional pardoning of former Arizona Sheriff Arpaio, and his extensive ties to and unironic retweeting of white supremacists and the hate groups who boldly support him, and much more. His own father was an active member of the KKK.
Hill had every right to express her disdain for Trump, his words and actions, and his administration; especially as a Black woman who knows all too well the violence of the white supremacy that Trump and his followers embrace.
According to ESPN, freedom of speech does not extend to their Black employees speaking out about white supremacist violences on Twitter. And According to the White House, Hill should be fired. Trump’s administration is ironically and frustratingly full of the kind of snowflakes that they love to accuse their detractors of being, unable to handle any criticisms and ostracizing anyone who disagrees with them. This entire situation is absurd, and is a clear demonstration of the authoritarianism currently inhabiting the White House.
Trump’s tactics go beyond fear-mongering and exaggerating threats of danger in order to arouse far-spread panic and secure votes and support. One of the only things that Trump is adept at is appealing to white America’s fears of losing institutional power. He is also a maven of pointed efforts to intimidate, invalidate, and silence the outlets with stories and segments which accurately portray him as the megalomaniac that he is, dubbing them “fake news.” This may seem like mere petulance on his part, but it is systematic whining, as he has ambitions to build his own pro-Trump “real news” media empire to control the creation and dissemination of information to strengthen and further entrench his far-right base.
His administration is rife with nepotism and cronyism, yet during his short time as president, he has already developed a reputation for removing people from their appointed positions when they clash with him, go against his wishes, or refuse to appease him. All things considered, Trump checks a lot of boxes of the authoritarianism criteria.
Miss Texas, Margana Wood, made similar comments about Trump during the Miss America pageant. On live television, she condemned his lack of response to Charlottesville. Trump’s camp made no response to her, but instead announced on Wednesday morning that the maladroit president now “looks forward” to signing a recently drafted resolution against white supremacists — those who Trump described as “very fine people” after their marched on Charlottesville. Public responses to Wood were markedly different than response to Jemele Hill — when Black women tell the truth about whiteness, it’s read as a form of violence. And the Trump administration’s white supremacist authoritarian interests lie in silencing and further marginalizing Black voices that oppose them, especially someone with a platform like Hill’s.
The writing on the wall about Trump’s authoritarianism has been scribbled in bold, striking letters for a long time now. It’s not only white fragility and the stereotype of the angry black woman working against Jemele Hill, but also the autocracy that Trump allows to thrive in the White House. He has yet to clearly and concisely disavow white supremacy because it is within is his autocratic interests to uphold it.
Feature Image: JOHN SCIULLI/GETTY IMAGES FOR ESPN