If there’s been one consistency with all national politics involving Black candidates, both currently and throughout history, it’s that they are forced to deal with racist stereotypes being heaped upon them. The sources may vary, but the end-game is always the same: an apparent attempt to reduce Black candidates by way of using racist tropes.
And while Cory Booker had been hit with the expected racist stereotypes in the months prior to suspending his campaign on Monday, Fox News just couldn’t resist doing the same after he ended his bid for president.
While covering Booker ending his campaign — something that Donald Trump Twitter-taunted the New Jersey senator over — Fox News co-anchor Melissa Francis took the president’s teasing one step farther by resorting to a centuries-old racist trope.
After pundit Lawrence Jones — aka the Black guy on the show who just last year insisted that “Black folks want Donald Trump the businessman, I think that’s the person they admire…” — offered his opinion on why he thought Booker ended his campaign, Francis, out of nowhere, cited without proof unnamed “Democrats” who she said previously called the New Jersey senator “lazy.”
Of course, the notion that a sitting U.S. senator is lazy while he was simultaneously fulfilling his elected duty on Capitol Hill as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and running a presidential campaign amid preparing for a historic Senate impeachment trial of Trump is ludicrous, at best. But Fox News has never let a good fact get in the way of racist and partisan mud-slinging — and it wasn’t going to start on Monday.
For the uninitiated, the National Museum of African America History and Culture’s website has explained that “stereotypes created during the height of the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade” included one of “laziness” in spite of the fact that “an enslaved person, forced under violence to work from sunrise to sunset, could hardly be described as lazy.”
The lazy trope is also one embraced by Trump — at least it was as documented in a 1991 book where, as Vox reported, the then-real estate developer offered his honest thoughts about a Black accountant working for him.
“I think that the guy is lazy,” Trump was quoted as saying by author John O’Donnell. “And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.”
Vox went on to report that Trump “later said in a 1997 Playboy interview that ‘the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.’”
If you’re thinking Francis is racist for that comment, it wouldn’t be the first time she was called that. On the same program in 2017, Francis defended Trump’s infamous “both sides” comment that misguidedly (racistly?) sought to lump Nazis and white supremacists in the same basket as people protesting them. Francis went on to deny the obligatory and accurate label of a racist assigned to her after that show’s episode.
The “lazy” stereotype that Fox News tried to pin on Booker was the second racist trope the senator was hit with in as many months. In December, former New York City mayor and stop-and-frisk champion Michael Bloomberg remarked on how “well spoken” Booker is.
In a subsequent interview, Booker responded to the “well spoken” comment by first saying that he was “taken aback” before expounding on the matter. Booker said “it’s sort of stunning at times that we are still revisiting these sort of tired tropes or the language we have out there that folks I don’t think understand, the fact that they don’t understand, that it’s problematic.”
Of course, Booker was not the only Black politician who has had a racist trope assigned to him or her. Even presidential front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden, called Barack Obama “articulate” and “clean” back in 2007 as if it was some shock that a Black man could be all these things. Three years later, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed amazement at how the “light-skinned” Obama was able to speak “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”
This is America.