Earlier this week, controversial ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith made headlines when he seemingly defended Donald Trump during an appearance at Semafor Media Summit. “[Trump] used to throw a lot of events at … you know, at his casinos and stuff like that, and I genuinely liked them,” Smith commented.
“I didn’t know who this guy was running for president. I think he’s changed, but I will tell you this: I think when people call him racist and stuff like that, I’ve never thought of Trump that way. It’s not, he’s not against Black people. He’s against old things not named Trump.” However, the former president has a lengthy history of being both racist and selfish.
What Smith said speaks to a larger trend of Black celebrities using right-wing rhetoric and messaging is one that is an easy way to grab attention and boost visibility. The star asserting that Trump isn’t against Black people doesn’t take into account his very public record of insisting on the execution of the Central Park 5 in 1989. Trump also settled decades old lawsuit against his company for alleged racial discrimination at his housing developments in New York.
The sad part is this kind of disturbing behavior ultimately does more damage to the people these public figures claim to represent. In addition, they are also under the impression that aligning with white supremacy will make them more powerful—as if racism doesn’t play a factor in how power dynamics work. It happened last year when Kanye West caused sat down with Fox News host Tucker Carlson on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.
During his appearance, the emcee defended his gross Paris Fashion Week stunt in which he, Candace Owens and West’s models donned “White Lives Matter” shirts. Blac Chyna decided to follow in West’s footsteps and appeared on “Fox & Friends” last month to discuss finding God, dumping OnlyFans and having her plastic surgery reversed. Ultimately, the message sent to Fox viewers from her interview was this is how Black women should act in order to be deemed valuable; anything that falls outside this purview is unacceptable.
Of course, racist white people love to give Black folks the opportunity to degrade their own using their large platforms because it means Black people are doing the dirty work for them. This is why Dave Chappelle brought out Elon Musk during one of his performances last year after the comedian came under attack for his disturbing “jokes” about trans people. It’s also why conservatives loved Chris Rock’s Selective Outrage comedy special since the comedian used the hour to gripe about ‘cancel culture’ and folks being ‘woke.’
This behavior also seems to have a rippling effect. Influential pop culture personality, DJ Akademiks, also made the move to align with white supremacy earlier this week when he signed an exclusive live-streaming deal with right-wing video-sharing platform Rumble. “There have been many bad decisions at larger platforms where they haven’t put creators first and they are disconnected to the community,” he stated. “I feel now is an inflection point for streaming platforms. I couldn’t be more excited to lead this effort on a platform that puts creators first.”
Popular hip hop podcast “No Jumper” also was recently on the receiving end of backlash for platforming white supremacists like Nick Fuentes and Richard Spencer. The show’s founder, Adam Grandmaison, is white, so him using the currency of Black culture to lending his space to bigots makes his actions even more upsetting. This dangerous trend, which doesn’t show any signs of letting up, needed to be called out for exactly what it is: desperate attempts to access the kind of power white supremacist systems have. Sadly, it’s only further harms us in the end.