Rep. Elijah Cummings used a meeting with President Donald Trump Wednesday as an opportunity to educate the nation’s leader on how to speak about black communities.
The two men met to discuss lowering prescription drug prices, but the Maryland congressman saw the chance as a teaching moment. He called Trump’s previous comments about African-American communities “insulting.”
“I said to him, ‘Mr. President, most respectfully, when you’re talking about the African-American community, I want you to realize that all African-American communities are not places of depression, where people are being harmed,’” Cummings told the Baltimore Sun of their conversation. “I think it would be good for him to acknowledge that most African-American people are doing very, very well.”
“When we hear those words about carnage and we are living in depressed situations, I told him it was very hurtful.”
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Trump was frequently criticized for his depiction of black communities while on the campaign trail, at one point describing them as “the worst shape they’ve ever been in before.” Many complained of his habit of framing African American discussions around crime and drugs.
“You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. Fifty-eight percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?” Trump said on the campaign trail last year.
Trump has made some efforts to reach out to the black community since becoming president. His most public gesture so far has been his HBCU executive order — which so far has received mixed reviews.
The White House did not acknowledge Cummings’ comments, though the congressman did say that Trump appeared receptive of his comments but “where he goes from there, I don’t know.”