President Donald Trump has a well-documented history of making disparaging remarks about African-American leaders and celebrities.
From referring to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as “son of a b****” for protesting against police brutality to starting a whole conspiracy theory claiming to denounce Barack Obama’s presidency, the reality TV star-turned-politician has always appeared to have a problem with people of color who either don’t praise him or raise their voice against the injustices faced by the community.
Trump once again displayed his capability to insult renowned African-American figures by issuing a tone deaf statement on the death of “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin, whose civil rights work is just as legendary as her music.
“I want to begin today by expressing my condolences to the family of a person I knew well. She worked for me on numerous occasions,” the commander-in-chief said during a cabinet meeting. “She was terrific — Aretha Franklin — on her passing. She brought joy to millions of lives and her extraordinary legacy will thrive and inspire many generations to come. She was given a great gift from God — her voice, and she used it well. People loved Aretha. She was a special woman. So just want to pass on my warmest best wishes and sympathies to her family.”
Now, there are several problems with his statement.
Firstly, does Trump even know who Franklin was? Because his little “she worked for me on numerous occasions” comment definitely baffled social media users.
It would be no surprise if Aretha Franklin performed at a Trump event years ago. But for him to say she "worked for" him, phrased that way, carries an abundantly clear connotation. It speaks to how he saw her and is devoid of the respect she deserves for her impact.— G O L D I E. (@goldietaylor) August 16, 2018
When Trump says Aretha "worked for him many times," he says with the arrogance of a slave owner...— Jeffrey St. Clair (@JSCCounterPunch) August 16, 2018
2. I'm assuming Queen Aretha, at some point, did a show at one of Trump's casinos..I can't figure out any other way she would have worked for him and of course I can't fathom why anyone would make that reference on the day one of the most important women in music passed away.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) August 16, 2018
Trump just claimed that Aretha Franklin “worked for him on numerous occasions.”— Ryan Knight 🌊 (@ProudResister) August 16, 2018
So let’s get something straight. The #QueenOfSoul did not work for anyone. What she did do is generously share her voice and her soul with the world. And we are all better off because of it. #RESPECT
According to the Press of Atlantic City, Franklin performed at Trump’s Castle casino in 1988 and the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in the 1990s. However, that definitely can not be described as Franklin working for him.
It was also somewhat reminiscent of the time the commander-in-chief apparently thought Frederick Douglass, who died over a century ago, was still alive.
Aretha Franklin "worked for me on numerous occasions. She was terrific."— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) August 16, 2018
Are we sure Trump knows who Aretha Franklin was or is this one of those Frederick Douglass situations?#ThursdayThoughtspic.twitter.com/SWh5W8kSR0
Secondly, who sends “warmest best wishes” to the family of someone who has recently passed away?
Trump, that’s who.
Unsurprisingly, Trump’s comments on Franklin prompted online users to draw comparisons with Obama’s heartfelt tribute.
Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. pic.twitter.com/bfASqKlLc5— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 16, 2018
The difference between the statements of Obama and Trump on the passing of Aretha Franklin show how important eloquence is within the office of president.— Paul Gasari (@WheresMyArk_23) August 16, 2018
A majority of Americans and a majority of world leaders miss having an educated person as the face of the USA pic.twitter.com/2JJsKvHeVj
OBAMAS ON ARETHA: "Graced with a glimpse of the divine."— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) August 16, 2018
CLINTONS ON ARETHA: "One of America's greatest national treasures."
TRUMP ON ARETHA: "She worked for me."#ArethaFranklin
Moreover, as The Daily Beast reported, Franklin was not a huge fan of Trump either.
In fact, he even asked the chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, his longtime friend Tom Barrack, to reach out to the iconic singer and ask her to perform at his 2017 inauguration ceremony – but his request was turned down.