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PBS - September 12, 2019

“When you look at his appointments for the bench: White, white, white, white white, white, white,” Cheadle said. “That to me is really damning to everybody else because no one else gets a chance because he’s thinking that the whites are superior, period.”

Gregory Cheadle, the black man President Donald Trump once described at a rally as “my African American,” is fed up.

After two years of frustration with the president’s rhetoric on race and the lack of diversity in the administration, Cheadle told PBS NewsHour he has decided to leave the Republican party and run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representative as an independent in 2020.

READ MORE: Black voters will define what ‘electable’ means for 2020 Democrats

Now, the 62-year-old real estate broker, who supported the Republican approach to the economy, said he sees the party as pursuing a “pro-white” agenda and using black people like him as “political pawns.” The final straw for Cheadle came when he watched many Republicans defend Trump’s tweets telling four congresswomen of color, who are all American citizens, to go back to their countries, as well as defend the president’s attacks on Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and his comments that Cummings’ hometown of Baltimore is “infested.”

“President Trump is a rich guy who is mired in white privilege to the extreme,” said Cheadle, of Redding, Calif., who switched from being an independent to a Republican in 2001. “Republicans are too sheepish to call him out on anything and they are afraid of losing their positions and losing any power themselves.”

President Trump faced fierce backlash after he tweeted in July that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., should leave the United States.

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” Trump wrote. “Then come back and show us how it is done.”

That same month, Trump said Cummings’ Maryland district which includes parts of Baltimore was “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”

The White House and Trump have fiercely defended the president’s comments as fair criticism of the lawmakers’ liberal policies. But for Cheadle, the incidents were too much. A few weeks ago, he was scrolling through posts written by fellow Republicans, who are his Facebook friends, and reached a breaking point.

“They were sidestepping the people of color issue and saying that, ‘No, it’s not racist,’” he said. “They were saying these people were socialists and communists. That’s what they were saying. And I thought this is a classic case of whites not seeing racism because they want to put blinders on and make it about something else.”

Cheadle became widely known in June 2016 when Trump, then a presidential candidate, pointed to him at a rally in Redding, Calif. and said, “Look at my African American over here. Look at him. Are you the greatest?” ...
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