When President Trump dragged Detroit into his racist rhetoric, Michiganders flooded Twitter with love for the city — and all the reasons he was wrong.
DETROIT, MI — Detroiters and Michiganders like Yolanda Smith flooded Twitter in defense and love of Michigan’s largest city after President Trump said last Thursday that living in Detroit, where there is a majority Black population, is “like living in hell.”
Smith (@violetflower30 on Twitter) said she loves the city for Belle Isle, Eastern Market, Hart Plaza, Better Made Chips, Faygo, all the Coney Islands, Jefferson, Woodward, the museums, the African World Festival, the River Walk, techno music, all the Mile roads, Westside, Eastside, and her Mama.
But that’s not what Trump sees.
“Everyone gets upset when I say it. They say, ‘Oh, is that a racist statement?’ No, it’s not racist,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News. “Frankly, Black people come up to me and say, ‘Thank you, thank you, sir, for saying it.’ They want help.”
Who Is Trump Talking About?
The president’s statement leaves many wondering just who is thanking him for his disparaging comments, which put Chicago, Baltimore, and Oakland — also majority-Black, Democrat-led cities — on blast as well.
“I found the black guy who apparently talks to Donald Trump about the ‘hell’ our great cities are,” tweeted Russell Drew (@RussOnPolitics), linking to a clip from a 2016 Trump campaign rally in Redding, CA.
“Look at my African American over here,” Trump said, singling out Gregory Cheadle amongst the crowd. “Are you the greatest? … So we had an African American guy at one of the rallies a month ago, and he’s sitting there behaving,” he continued before launching into a tale from the campaign.
Needless to say, Cheadle no longer supports Trump, as CNN reported, and has in fact left the Republican Party, which he believes is pursuing a “pro-white” agenda and is using Black people like him as “political pawns.”
The president’s comments about Detroit come about a week after he mentioned the city’s crime during a rally in Tulsa.
Addressing the crowd, Trump said, “The murder rate in Baltimore and Detroit is higher than El Salvador, Guatemala, or even Afghanistan.”
According to WXYZ Detroit, Detroit saw 261 homicides in 2018 — the lowest number in 50 years. In contrast, El Salvador alone recorded 3,340 murders that same year.
“How are they doing? The Democrats running those cities?” Trump asked the Tulsa crowd. “Your whole country will be like that.”
Looking Into “Law and Order”
During the Hannity interview on Thursday, Trump said that it shouldn’t be considered racist to pursue “law and order” in inner cities.
“If we are to become a more perfect union and if we really want to pursue happiness, we first have to have law and order,” he said after reciting some shooting statistics from the past weekend off-hand. “We could stop it [the violence] quickly, and at some point in the not-too-distant future I’m gonna do it.”
As linguist contributor on NPR’s Fresh Air, Geoff Nunberg, explains, the racial overtones of Trump’s continued calls for “law and order” are hard to deny.
It’s “the cry that people in charge have raised to confront the threat of violence bubbling up from below — whether as popular insurrections, public disorders, radical agitators or gangs,” said Nunberg. “Law and order” was invoked to condemn both Flint’s striking auto workers in 1936 and demonstrations organized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963.
But Trump’s racist rhetoric about Detroit came through loud and clear. And Michiganders, from born-and-bred Detroiters to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, are answering back.
Gov. Whitmer responded by asking Michiganders to share what they love about Detroit.
Their answers did not disappoint.