Civil rights activist Al Sharpton has a harsh history lesson for rappers and entertainers he believes have been “seduced” by former president Donald Trump.
While speaking to MSNBC’s Joy Reid on Tuesday, Sharpton began, “Let’s not go back to the 1930s, let’s go to the 1990s when five young Black and brown young men were falsely accused of raping a White woman in Central Park. It was Donald Trump that took out ads in the papers in New York saying they should get the death penalty.”
Reid opened up her show by addressing “critical Trump theory” and explained of the former president’s team, “It doesn’t stop with just co-opting Black oppression. No, no. They are trying it with hip-hop culture, too.”
“Remember back in the 1990s and early aughts, it was a normal thing for rappers to name-check Trump as the symbol for wealth and power. Nelly, Yung Joc, and of course, Kanye, who later as the MAGA hat-wearing Ye, would be used by Trump to convince Black voters that he wasn’t racist,” Reid added. “Trump in the Oval Office even pardoned Kodak Black and Lil Wayne. See: he’s on your side, Blacks.”
Reid goes on to add, “The irony, of course, is that his hip-hop avatar was based on a media-constructed lie. Like ‘Cribs’ and ‘The Apprentice’—Trump was never a billionaire. He wasn’t a real estate king, either. He just inherited a lot of money, lost it, declared bankruptcy five times, and still got bank loans because he made himself famous.”
Reid addressed her first question to Sharpton and asked, “If you let Trump people tell it, the March on Washington was about freeing Donald Trump. They’re literally trying to take everything that has happened in real life to Black Americans and say, ‘That isn’t real, you can’t teach that in school, we’ve made it illegal for you to even talk about it, none of that systemic racism is real.’ But all the things Black people have ever said about systemic oppression are true, but only about this one guy. Your thoughts?”
Clearly equally concerned, Sharpton reminded viewers that Donald Trump was the person who took out ads in newspapers in New York that insisted the Central Park 5 get the death penalty. He said of the rappers in question, “So they want to cite how Blacks have been abused by the criminal justice system. Cite the case where we lost and eventually, it was proven these five young men that Donald Trump called on to get the death penalty was in fact innocent.”
Sharpton continued, “The only case of race in the criminal justice system that I’ve ever seen Donald Trump stand up for in New York where he’s a native was when he called for the death penalty of five innocent young Black and brown young men.”
He added that one of the five men attended last weekend’s commemoration of the March on Washington. Sharpton added, “One spent 13 years in jail, he was with us for the March on Washington on Saturday. Let them come and tell the rappers and others that are being seduced by Trump what he did in his hometown to innocent Black men while we were marching around their innocence.”
Watch the interview with Reid and Sharpton in the video above.