Considering Donald Trump’s continuous attacks against people of color and his despicably racist tirades—in both verbal statements and written comments on Twitter—it’s impossible to remain silent.
Even before Trump published yet another racist Twitter thread on Saturday targeting House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings while watching Fox News, 149 African Americans who served in the Obama administration had signed an Op-Ed in The Washington Post condemning Trump’s racism and his administration’s undermining of democracy.
The Op-Ed is aptly titled “We are African Americans, we are patriots, and we refuse to sit idly by.” The list of co-authors is extensive, ranging from former policy advisers to agency chiefs of staff to legal counsel.
The column specifically addresses Trump’s racist comments earlier this month, in which he told Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Later that week at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina, Trump supporters chanted “Send her back!” for 13 long seconds when Trump began attacking Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of the four women—who are all U.S. citizens and elected officials—the president had told to go back to their own countries.
“We stand with congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, as well as all those currently under attack by President Trump, along with his supporters and his enablers, who feel deputized to decide who belongs here — and who does not,” the former Obama administration staffers wrote. “There is truly nothing more un-American than calling on fellow citizens to leave our country — by citing their immigrant roots, or ancestry, or their unwillingness to sit in quiet obedience while democracy is being undermined.”
They added: “We are proud descendants of immigrants, refugees and the enslaved Africans who built this country while enduring the horrors of its original sin. We stand on the soil they tilled, and march in the streets they helped to pave. We are red-blooded Americans, we are patriots, and we have plenty to say about the direction this country is headed. We decry voter suppression. We demand equitable access to health care, housing, quality schools and employment. We welcome new Americans with dignity and open arms. And we will never stop fighting for the overhaul of a criminal-justice system with racist foundations.”
Former President Barack Obama shared the Op-Ed on Twitter, writing, “I’ve always been proud of what this team accomplished during my administration. But more than what we did, I’m proud of how they’re continuing to fight for an America that’s better.”
In both the attacks against the four congresswomen and the latest against Cummings, Trump used the word “infested.” The president referred to Cummings’ 7th District in Maryland, which is 53% black, as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” Regarding the congresswomen, he referred to “the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
In an emotional segment on CNN on Saturday, Victor Blackwell, who is from Baltimore, highlighted Trump’s use of the word “infested” whenever he attacks people of color.
“‘Infested’—that’s usually reserved for references to rodents and insects, but we’ve seen the president invoke infestation to criticize lawmakers before,” Blackwell said. “You see a pattern here?”
He added: “Donald Trump has tweeted more than 43,000 times. He’s insulted thousands of people, many different types of people, but when he tweets about infestation, it’s about black and brown people.”
In the Post Op-Ed, the former Obama officials wrote, “We refuse to sit idly by as racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia are wielded by the president and any elected official complicit in the poisoning of our democracy.”
They ended with a promise: “Expect to hear more from us. We plan to leave this country better than we found it. This is our home.”
After all of this, Trump, who never apologizes, doubled down. “Elijah Cummings spends all of his time trying to hurt innocent people through ‘Oversight.’ He does NOTHING for his very poor, very dangerous and very badly run district!” he tweeted.