Maryland’s 7th District U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings criticized President Trump for his language about black communities, calling the president’s rhetoric “hurtful” and “insulting” during a White House meeting about prescription drug prices Wednesday.
Trump has referred to “carnage” in the “inner cities” when discussing black communities in speeches. At an August rally, he asked black voters what they “have to lose” by voting for him.
“You live in your poverty, your schools are no good,” Trump said. “You have no jobs. Fifty-eight percent of your youth is unemployed.”
Cummings, ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Governmental Reform Committee and a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said he told the president Wednesday, “I want you to realize that all African-American communities are not places of depression, where people are being harmed,” The Baltimore Sun reported.
A Trump spokeswoman did not respond to The Baltimore Sun’s request for comment. Trump called himself “the least racist person” in a Feb. 16 press conference, responding to a question about anti-Semitic threats made against Jewish Community Centers.
Maryland’s 7th District covers half of Baltimore City, and about 54 percent of district residents are black or African-American, according to a 2015 Census Bureau survey.
Trump also said during presidential debates there is a 45 percent poverty rate among African-Americans in the inner city. Federal census data estimates the poverty rate of black residents in metropolitan areas is about 26 percent, The Washington Post reported.
Janae Thompson, a sophomore enrolled in letters and sciences, said Trump’s comments about African-Americans are over-broad.
“He’s just looking at one aspect of certain communities and applying that to all African-American communities, which is wrong,” said Thompson, a black student. “But you know — that’s Trump.”
Cummings told The Sun “it would be good for [Trump] to acknowledge that most African-American people are doing very, very well.”
Senior geographic information science major Segun Awe said he thinks Trump’s rhetoric about black communities is an effort to appeal to his base.
“When he’s saying these things, he definitely means it,” said Awe, who is black. “… so his supporters are like, ‘Yes — if you’re talking about those people, I want those people gone.”
Cummings also criticized the president’s unsubstantiated voter fraud claims after Trump said Vice President Pence would take charge of a voter fraud commission. Cummings told Trump at Wednesday’s meeting that an investigation into voter fraud would not occur without a “study of voter suppression,” according to The Sun.