If there’s one thing Martin Luther King Jr. would have loved, it would have been a prominent black commentator calling another black commentator a “mediocre negro” for disagreeing about politics.
So, in honor of MLK, Morehouse College professor and frequent television guest Marc Lamont Hill did just that.
Hill said of Donald Trump welcoming black figures including Steve Harvey and Jim Brown, “To keep bringing comedians and actors and athletes to represent black interests is demeaning, it’s disrespectful and it’s condescending. Bring some people up there with some expertise, Donald Trump. Don’t just bring up people to entertain.”
At this, executive director of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump Bruce Levell asked Hill what was so terrible about the meeting between Harvey and Trump. Hill responded, “Unless Steve Harvey turned into a policy analyst in the behind-the-scenes meeting, it doesn’t matter whether I was there. My concern is the people he’s trumpeting up and putting in front of cameras.”
This is a rather inane point, given the fact that Barack Obama routinely welcomed advice from celebrities on purely political issues: Leonardo DiCaprio came to the White House to discuss global warming in October; Angeline Jolie came to the White House to talk about Sarajevo while Brad Pitt talked with Vice President Biden about New Orleans rebuilding; during the 2008 campaign Obama reportedly sought Middle East advice from George Clooney, among many other such circumstances. And Lamont Hill had no problem with actors and actresses like Meryl Streep ripping into Trump – were they just “mediocre white people”? Civil rights leaders have often reached out to celebrities, too: Joseph Mankiewicz, Charlton Heston, James Baldwin, Paul Newman, Jackie Robinson, Joan Baez, Bob DylanSammy Davis Jr., Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee, Burt Lancaster…all of them attended the March on Washington.
But Steve Harvey on inner city poverty was a bridge too far for Lamont Hill. Why? Because he was meeting with Trump.
After Levell reminded Hill that Trump had welcomed more prominent black figures than Harvey to Trump Tower, Hill exploded, “It was a bunch of mediocre negroes being dragged in front of TV as a photo op for Donald Trump’s exploitative campaign aginst black people. And you are a prime example of that.”
It’s one of the conceits of the left that color comes along with a predetermined politics – and predetermined privileges. Lamont Hill has said in the past that black people are incapable of racism because “black people don’t have the institutional power to be racist or to deploy racism.” Yet there was Lamont Hill casting aspersions at “mediocre negroes” like Steve Harvey (net worth: well over $100 million, audience of nearly 4 million for his radio show).
Just because Harvey didn’t agree with Hill that Trump ought to be boycotted, he has to be silenced as “mediocre.” That’s actual racism. Race isn’t destiny, and race isn’t a political mandate. Anyone who disagrees is promoting bigotry.