Black ExperienceNational

‘All African-American Communities Are Not Places of Depression’ Cummings Tells Trump in Meeting

President Donald Trump met with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) in the Oval Office Wednesday to discuss rising prescription drug prices. Cummings, a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, also took the opportunity to explain to Trump that some of his language directed toward African-American communities has been “hurtful.”

“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 and where people are being harmed,’” Cummings told reporters Wednesday.

Social media users, including the NAACP, corrected Trump’s response to a question asked at the second presidential debate.

Trump continually uses negative rhetoric, as well as the term “inner cities,” when referring to Black communities. To kick off Black History Month on February 1, the president hosted a “listening session” for his African-American supporters and administration members.

He said to the group, “If you remember, I wasn’t going to do well with the African-American community, and after they heard me speaking and talking about the inner city and lots of other things, we ended up getting — I won’t go into details — but we ended up getting substantially more than other candidates who had run in the past years.”

Trump inferred that his talk about the “inner cities” resulted in him getting more of the Black vote than previous Republican candidates. However, Trump earning 8 percent of Black vote was roughly the same as the Black vote Mitt Romney garnered in the 2012 presidential election.

He won the Electoral College vote by 77,000 votes scattered across three states (less than 1 percent in each state) and lost the national vote by close to 3 million.

Cummings said he brought it to the president’s attention that he’s lived in the “inner city of Baltimore” in the same house for 35 years.

See the video clip:

“I think it would be good for him to acknowledge that most African-American people are doing very, very well,” Cummings said.

He said he also told the president “certainly we welcome his efforts to improve our communities.”

Baltimore, where Cummings resides, is a predominantly African-American city with a long, complex history encompassing both poverty and prosperity, and a police force that uses brutality to combat high-crime areas.

In August, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a report stating it “found reasonable cause to believe that the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD) engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution as well as federal anti-discrimination laws.”

Trump often refers to the crime statistics in cities such as Chicago, yet he does not address the correlation that often exists between high-crime areas and ineffective and oppressive police departments.

The DOJ issued a report on January 13, a week before Trump took office, which said Chicago police routinely violated the civil rights of people. It cited excessive force, racially discriminatory conduct and a “code of silence” to thwart investigations into police misconduct.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on February 27 the DOJ was still deciding whether it would seek to impose reforms on the Chicago police force suggested by the Obama administration.

The White House statement on Wednesday’s meeting with Cummings did not make reference to the discussion about the African-American community:

“This meeting was a result of a January telephone conversation, during which Congressman Cummings said that he and the President, ‘had more in common than differences.’

“President Trump expressed his desire to work with Congressman Cummings in a bipartisan fashion to ensure prescription drug prices are more affordable for all Americans, especially those who need lifesaving prescription medications.

“Reforming the Food and Drug Administration and reducing the regulatory burdens on drug manufacturers so as to enhance competition will help accomplish those goals. President Trump also offered his condolences to Congressman Cummings and his longtime staffer, Katie Malone, who lost six of her children in January in a tragic house fire.”

Coming out of the meeting, Cummings, the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s top Democrat, said that Trump was well versed on the issue of rising drug prices and “enthusiastic” about rectifying the situation. He presented the president with a proposal that would allow the administration to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices on drugs purchased under Medicare.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Cummings said he believed Trump “got it” in regard to changing his rhetoric on Black communities. But “where he goes from there, I don’t know,” he said.

“Donald Trump portrays our inner cities as if they are the ailments of American society,” Shermichael Singleton wrote in the op-ed that cost him his job.

Shermichael Singleton, a 26-year-old conservative Republican, was a top aide for Ben Carson, the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary. But Singleton lost his job last month for criticizing Trump’s rhetoric about the Black community while campaigning for president.

During his vetting process to work with the Trump administration, an op-ed Singleton wrote for The Hill surfaced and he was fired. Singleton was escorted out of the department’s headquarters on February 15. He had held the position since January 23.

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