Whatever one thinks about Omarosa, and she has plenty of detractors among both conservative and liberal thinkers, there’s little doubt her role as a “black liaison” for the Trump administration is one of the most difficult ones in Washington.
And the challenges of having to “defend” Donald Trump, routinely mischaracterized as a racist, especially in the largely progressive black media, to almost exclusively black audiences were evident recently during what was supposed to be a routine panel discussion at a National Association of Black Journalists convention.
Before the event began however it became clear that with Omarosa (full name and title: Omarosa Manigault-Newman, Director of Communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison) as one of the panelists, the event would not come close to the civil discussion on police violence, billed as “Black and Blue: Raising Our Sons, Protecting Our Communities,” many hoped it would be.
As the New York Times reports:
Heading into the forum, many of the conference attendees said they were steeling themselves for the appearance of Ms. Manigault-Newman, who became famous on “The Apprentice” and has had several fiery exchanges with journalists. Several journalists who were scheduled to be on the panel pulled out of the event after Ms. Manigault-Newman was added.
A handful of people in the audience, including Brittany Packnett, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist and a founder of a policy group called Campaign Zero, stood up and turned their backs toward Ms. Manigault-Newman to protest her presence.
Many Twitter users posted pictures of the audience reaction to Omarosa, such as the tweet below from @NBCBLK:
— NBC BLK (@NBCBLK) August 11, 2017
The actual discussion itself quickly became contentious when the moderator, Ed Gordon of Bounce TV, pressed Omarosa on several Trump policies and statements, particularly his joke at a Long Island rally about the police allowing murderers to bump their heads while pushing them into the back of police cruisers, which many took as an endorsement of police brutality.
According to the New York Times , “The panel ended abruptly when Ms. Manigault-Newman walked off the stage after Mr. Gordon said it was a “quagmire” that had “reached the point of diminished returns.”
Such events are unfortunately par for the course for Omarosa. One might recall a speech she gave in April for an Al Sharpton event in which she told a black audience that engagement with President Trump was “not a one-way street.”
A controversial remark, to be sure. But a brave one.
However one might feel about Omarosa’s message, her courage in speaking it is to be admired.