Former Congressional Black Caucus Executive Director Angela Rye took issue on Sunday with white Americans who think they “allowed” Barack Obama to become president.
During a panel discussion about race in America, CNN host Fareed Zakaria noted that some pundits had speculated that “the fact that you have allowed in a member of an excluded minority in a strange way gives you license to continue the old pattern of discrimination.”
“Does that make any sense to you?” Zakaria asked. “That the fact that you have elected an African-American actually could mean a certain reversion to patterns of discrimination?”
Rye immediately objected to the premise of the question.
“I think it’s interesting even that you used the term ‘allowed,’ that he was allowed to be there,” she said. “That’s terminology that we would never use to describe the 43 presidents that preceded him.”
“To see that this is still our reality today in 2016 when we may very well be on the verge of electing our first woman president is really disheartening,” she continued. “And I do think that people thought that they were doing the right thing, ‘I’ll check the box and I will allow this black man to become president.'”
Rye said that some white Americans seemed to think that electing a black president “means that you all are equal and I don’t have to deal with the pattern and practice of discrimination that has existed in this country for years or the vestiges of slavery.”
“We would be remiss if we believed if that is in fact the case,” Rye added. “If you compare Donald Trump and what he is allowed to do, compared to Barack Obama and what he can’t do — the things that are allowed to come out of Donald Trump’s mouth that Barack Obama could never say — I think that is illuminating in and of itself.”
“The fact that his campaign slogan could be ‘Make America Great Again’ and that pains me and people who look like me to no end, the fact that he could reference something like Operation Wetback in a debate where hundreds of our Mexican brothers and sisters killed, slaughtered and taken out of this country because someone didn’t allow them to be here anymore is exactly the problem.”
Rye concluded: “The last time America was great, Fareed, was in 2008 when [Obama] was elected president. And we’ve been paying the price for that.”