The new feud brewing between White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and black congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Florida) brings to light a disturbing pattern we’ve seen within President Donald Trump's administration.
Trump and members of his team have, on more than one occasion, resorted to bullying black female critics who have used their public platforms to condemn the administration's behaviors.
Case in point: After Wilson exposed and shamed Trump for telling the widow of a fallen soldier that her husband “signed up” to die, Kelly defended his boss by spreading lies about Wilson and attempting to paint her as a publicity-seeking opportunist. He even went as far as to call her an "empty barrel."
With no other ground to stand on, Kelly went low and used a disrespectful tactic to launch a smear campaign against Wilson. But Kelly isn’t the first in the current administration to use this strategy.
You may recall months ago when disgraced Fox News host Bill O’Reilly insulted Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) by making a snarky comment about her hair.
“I didn't hear a word she said," he sneered after playing a clip of Waters speaking on the House floor. “I was looking at the James Brown wig."
O’Reilly isn't a politician, but he is known to be friends with Trump and his employer at the time, Fox News, tends to be a right-leaning outlet. Additionally, the clip O’Reilly was commenting on at the time showed Waters delivering a speech that criticized Trump and his supporters.
Another incident involving Waters occurred when she was forced to repeatedly announce that she was “reclaiming” her time, when Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tried to waste it by dodging her questions in a House Financial Services Committee hearing.
She asked the secretary why he never responded to her letter regarding Trump’s financial ties to Russia. He danced around the answer, which was not only a misuse of her time, but an insult to her intelligence.
Then, there is Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California), who became the new face of the “nevertheless she persisted” movement that was inadvertently sparked by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s resilience earlier this year.
Social media users began comparing Harris’ experience to Warren’s after she was interrupted by Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) twice in one week. The first time was while she was questioning Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and again while she was questioning Attorney General Jeff Sessions who complained she was making him “nervous.”
A more recent incident — aside from Kelly’s attack against Wilson — really drives this apparent political war on black women home. The ongoing Jemele Hill saga exemplifies how, in an instant, you can be thrown under the bus and your career in jeopardy for challenging Trump and his cronies.
The ESPN host ruffled Trump’s feathers by calling him out as a white supremacist on Twitter. His press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, called on the network to fire Hill, and when that didn’t work, Trump took to Twitter to suggest that Hill was the reason behind sinking ratings for ESPN.
Shortly after, Hill found herself under fire again for her tweets criticizing the attempts made by Trump and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to force NFL players to stand for the national anthem.
Hill was ultimately suspended for two weeks for violating ESPN’s social media policy, although it seems executives at ESPN were simply waiting for Hill to give them a reason to dish out a punishment ever since the Trump fiasco.
One notable quality all of these women have in common is that in the face of this adversity, they never backed down from Trump or his supporters. Despite the many attempts to disgrace and silence them, they each showed resilience, perseverance, and served hard-hitting clap-backs that won the internet’s praise.
This level of confidence and tenacity, however, clearly doesn’t sit well with the Trump administration because — as we are seeing with Kelly and Wilson — the cowardly bullying of vocal black women in positions of power is ongoing.
Alas, this is actually good news because as the saying goes: If you have enemies, that means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.