New York, NY – Hundreds of labor union members teamed up with elected officials in Times Square on Martin Luther King Day this week, to publicly denounce
the “racist-in-chief” and his latest insults targeting people of color.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Memphis, Tennessee 50 years ago, helping to support striking sanitation workers when an assassin’s bullet ended his life at 39 years-old.
Just days prior to this year’s national day of remembrance honoring the slain Civl Rights icon, the “orange ogre” currently occupying the White House characterized the island nation of Haiti and the African continent as “shit holes,” before proceeding to lament a dearth of Norwegian emigres to the U.S.
Brooklyn City Council Member Mathhieu Eugene [D-40th District], himself a Haitian immigrant, demonstrated infinite more class in his rebuttal to Trump, saying slandered immigrants “deserve more than what the president said.”
“They are hardworking people who work hard every single day to contribute to the greatness of the United States of America,” the Brooklyn legislator continued. “Today, as we celebrate the legacy of the champion of justice — Dr. Martin Luther King — it is very important that we come together and condemn the words of the president and to ask for respect and dignity for Haitian and African immigrants.”
Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, president of the New York Nurses Association, noted the sad irony in confronting Trump’s overt racism a half century following Dr. King’s murder.
“When nurses take care of patients, we don’t ask them what country they come from,” Sheridan-Gonzalez said. “We don’t ask them their status. We don’t ask them if they have papers. We say, what’s wrong? And there’s something wrong in America today.”
Congress Member Jerrold Nadler [10th District], referred to the United States’ long tradition of racism in its official immigration policy, one that, at times, explicitly barred Jewish, Italian, Irish and Chinese emigres.
“We have repealed those laws; we’ve gotten rid of them,” Nadler told those assembled on Broadway between West 41st and West 42nd streets. “But now we have the racist-in-chief in the White House trying to revive [racism] in the immigration policy. He’s trying to say, ‘We can’t have those DACA kids — they come from the wrong places.’ And what are the wrong places? Well… Haiti, Africa. ‘We want them from the right places like Norway.’ What’s he saying? We don’t want them from warm climates? No. What he is saying is, ‘We don’t want brown people and brown people — we want nice white people.’ That is about as explicit as you can get.”
As egregious as his bone-headed and hateful rhetoric is, Sheridan-Gonzalez also warned union members that Trump’s slurs serve to provide cover for other crimes.
“We are dealing with criminals in Washington, and the criminal-in-chief in the White House who is perpetuating hatred, ignorance, intolerance and animosity — and making that what America stands for,” the head of the 40,000-member nurses organization said.”What these concepts do is distract people from the real problems. The real problems on Wall Street. The real problems in Washington. And the disenfranchisement of all of us.”
In addition to its systemic racism, Congress Member Nadler noted that the hallmark of the United States is also one of “constantly developing.”
“Much of the history of the United States in the last 200 years is expanding the definition of who is entitled to freedom until we get to everyone,” the longtime
representative said. “And that tradition conflicts with the racist tradition. And our job in every generation is to see that the tradition of liberty and freedom is triumphant over the tradition of racism.”
Council Member Eugene, calling Haiti “the Mother of Liberty,” also reminded demonstrators that the first nation in the world ever to be created by former slaves, gave Napoleon such a hard time in 1803, that then President Thomas Jefferson was able to pull off the Louisiana Purchase and explode the size of the United States in one fell swoop.
“We Haitian people, Afrian people, immigrant people — we know who we are,” Council Member Eugene said. “We are better than [Trump’s slurs]. Those words cannot undermine us.”