Gregory Cheadle, the man whom Donald J. Trump famously called “my African-American” at a California campaign rally, watched this month as now-President Trump praised the “very fine people on both sides” of the deadly melee in Charlottesville, Virginia, and he decided that possessive word “my” was in grave danger, The New York Times reports.
Shermichael Singleton’s support has flatlined. Singleton was fired from his job as a senior adviser for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in February after previous writings critical of Trump came to light, yet he remained supportive.
As the president headed to Phoenix on Tuesday to preach national unity at a campaign-style rally, even ardent supporters in the African-American community said the ties that once connected them to Trump had frayed badly.
“It’s difficult to continue to have hope for President Trump,” Singleton said.
“It’s difficult to focus on complex policy issues when you have a country that is falling apart. It’s difficult to focus on health care. It’s difficult to focus on the economy. It’s difficult to focus on infrastructure when you have people who dislike other people because of their ethnicity.”
“These people,” he said, “were waving Nazi flags.”
About a dozen interviews with black conservatives like Singleton revealed the tough question they are wrestling with: How can blacks who have defended the Republican Party against accusations of racism for decades remain loyal to a president who has, wittingly or unwittingly, boosted and buoyed the racists?
Some have answered by withdrawing their support. The only black Republican in the Senate, Tim Scott of South Carolina, criticized Trump by telling Vice News that his “moral authority is compromised.”
Some black conservatives, prominent and not-so-prominent, are weighing whether to leave the party altogether because they fear that under Trump’s leadership, Republicans may be complicit in espousing racism. Even after the ouster of Stephen K. Bannon, who as the president’s chief strategist was accused of pushing white nationalist views into the West Wing, they say that Trump has to reckon with his response to the violence and his history of taking controversial racial stances.