Table for Two by Garrett Smith

How the controversy surrounding Donald Trump and Kanye West’s dinner at the White House sparks memory of far worse Democratic anger.

Trump Ye

During recent months, music sensation, Kanye West, has caused quite a political stir during his meetings with President Trump. Many people on the right have considered Kanye’s meetings with the president a tremendous success for race relations, and many conservatives are excited to see a beloved celebrity come out as an independent thinker, defying the Democratic Party.

Many people on the left, however, have turned against Kanye. It was not long before many liberal celebrities said some very colorful things about Kanye, to say the least. Michael Eric Dyson, a Sociology professor at Georgetown University, stated, “This is white supremacy by Ventriloquism. A black mouth is moving, but racist ideals are flowing from Kanye’s mouth.”

Kanye Oval.jpg

CNN’s Don Lemon, never one to shy away from accusing President Trump of racism, went even further, stating of Kanye, “What I saw was a minstrel show today – him in front of all these white people.”[1] Dyson and Lemon are just two of the celebrities to speak out heavily against the meeting. The irony of Lemon’s statement, however, is due to the fact that Trump’s most recent meeting with Kanye was very racially inclusive, and another prominent member of the Black community – Jim Brown, the NFL Running Back – was also present in the room. Another major success, due to Kanye’s meeting with Trump, that rarely pops up in the media, is the fact that President Trump is now an even bigger proponent of criminal justice reform.

Stephen A. Crockett, Jr. of “The Root,” in an article titled, Kanye West Met With President Trump and we Need to Talk About It, states, “For the past few years, it feels like we’ve been watching the public castration of Kanye. Kanye has devolved from, ‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people’ to ‘this MAGA hat is a Superman cape.’ And it’s been a slow death of one of the most outspoken black artists of our time.”[2] Kanye has apologized for his words against George W. Bush. On top of all this, Kanye has been called an Uncle Tom, among many other horrible names used by upset liberals.

Kanye’s dine-in at the White House certainly caused a stir amongst the Democrats, and as I like to say, history certainly repeats itself. A rhetorical question I would like to ask, however, is, “Have we seen something similar before?” The race relations of today are absolutely nowhere close to being as divided as they were a century ago, and no one should even think they are comparable. When it comes to Donald Trump and Kanye West dining at the White House, and all of the negativity coming from the Democratic Party in response, however, it reminds me of a time when another prominent member of the Black community – a Republican, at that – dined at the White House with a Republican president…and the Democrats were furious.

Theodore Roosevelt, one of the nation’s most memorable statesmen, served as president during a time when race relations were very low. The Civil War had been over for forty years, but Democratic opposition to Black Civil Rights was running strong. In an effort to try and heal some of the wounds inflicted on the Black community, Teddy invited Booker T. Washington, a black Republican, to have dinner at the White House. The Democratic Party was outraged. One of the worst statements of Democratic anger came from Benjamin Tillman, a senator from South Carolina, who said, “The action of President Roosevelt in entertaining that ****** will necessitate our killing a thousand ******* in the South before they learn their place again.[1] Another, coming from Mississippi Democrat James K. Vardaman, described the White House as “so saturated with the odor of the ****** that the rats have taken refuge in the stable…I am just as much opposed to Booker T. Washington as a voter as I am to the coconut-headed, chocolate-colored, typical little c*** who blacks my shoes every morning. Neither is fit to perform the supreme function of citizenship.”[2]

I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not saying that Tillman’s and Vardaman’s comments are the same in terms of depravity when compared to the statements made by Crockett Jr., Lemon, Dyson, or other modern liberals. The comments made by Tillman and Vardaman are far more threatening and derogatory. The two time periods do show, however, a prominent African-American dining with a Republican president, to which the Democratic Party responded with fury and name-calling. When Washington dined with Roosevelt, one of the earliest cases of a Democrat calling a black Republican an “Uncle Tom” came from W.E.B. Dubois, a Democrat who supported Woodrow Wilson, the president who screened “Birth of a Nation” in the White House and brought segregation to the federal level. Even in this period of American history, we see an African-American who, unfortunately, fell for the spell of the Democrats, and believed them to be the true advocates for Black civil rights.[1] In a later article, I will discuss this.

Thankfully, the Democratic Party of today talks nothing like Tillman or Vardaman, but that doesn’t mean they don’t play the race card continuously. Democrats constantly maintain that the parties “switched” in the 1960s, which is a myth that I will gladly debunk in another article. As Nick Freitas, a Republican from Virginia, said, “I would really appreciate it if every time you want to make a powerful point, you don’t project the sins, the atrocities and the injustices that the Democratic Party perpetrated onto others.”[2]



[1] Kantrowitz, Stephen. Ben Tillman and the Reconstruction of White Supremacy. University of North Carolina Press. 2000.

[2] Rubio, Phillip F. A History of Affirmative Action, 1619-2000. University Press of Mississippi. 2001.




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