A group of 148 African Americans who served in former President Barack Obama’s administration backed the “Squad”—Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MN), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN)—on Friday evening against President Donald Trump’s “racist” attacks, vowing to be more vocal as Trump tries to make the “Squad” the face of Democrats.
In a Washington Post op-ed, the former Obama administration officials discussed how they “witnessed firsthand the relentless attacks on the legitimacy of President Barack Obama and his family from” their “front-row seats to America’s first black presidency.
“Witnessing racism surge in our country, both during and after Obama’s service and ours, has been a shattering reality, to say the least. But it has also provided jet-fuel for our activism, especially in moments such as these,” they wrote. “We’ve heard this before. Go back where you came from. Go back to Africa. And now, ‘send her back.’ Black and brown people in America don’t hear these chants in a vacuum; for many of us, we’ve felt their full force being shouted in our faces, whispered behind our backs, scrawled across lockers, or hurled at us online. They are part of a pattern in our country designed to denigrate us as well as keep us separate and afraid.”
Referencing Trump’s “go back” tweets that a majority of Americans in numerous national polls have said were “racist,” the group argued that there is “nothing more un-American” than telling U.S. citizens to leave the country.
“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. 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 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. “
The group–which includes Valerie Jarrett and Karine Jean-Pierre, who is now with MoveOn–also called on called on “local, state and congressional officials, as well as presidential candidates to articulate their policies and strategies for moving us forward as a strong democracy, through a racial-equity lens that prioritizes people over profit.”
“We will continue to support candidates for local, state and federal office who add more diverse representation to the dialogue and those who understand the importance of such diversity when policymaking here in our country and around the world,” they continued. “We ask all Americans to be a good neighbor by demonstrating anti-racist, environmentally friendly, and inclusive behavior toward everyone in your everyday interactions.”
The group also indicated that they will be more active and vocal in confronting Trump and his “racism” heading into the 2020 election cycle: “Expect to hear more from us. We plan to leave this country better than we found it. This is our home.”
“We are proud descendants of immigrants, refugees and the enslaved Africans who built this country while enduring the horrors of its original sin,” they said. “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.”