About US: Can a real black Republican get some love from Trump?

Candid conversations about identity in 21st-century America
The Washington Post

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Candid conversations about identity in 21st-century America
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The real reason these black celebrities are stannig for Trump?

Cold Korean noodles and warm family memories

The “Year of the Woman” in politics — again

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Trump’s most visible black supporters are not faithful Republicans

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Vanessa Williams
Staff Writer

Dennis Rodman’s tearful declaration of his affection for President Trump this week was reminiscent of Kanye West’s defiant insistence a few weeks ago that the president is “my brother.”

Sporting red baseball caps with Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” both men defended their embrace of a political figure who consistently scores high negative ratings in polls among African Americans. Rodman, a former basketball player with the Chicago Bulls who has five NBA championship rings, was in Singapore this week for the historic summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He wept during an interview with CNN as he praised both men and said he was “so happy” that they had started the process toward peace.

Trump and many of his supporters point to such endorsements as evidence that the president is winning over black people.

Rodman and West also share something else in common — neither are known for being Republican Party activists, nor do they fit the mold of traditional conservatives. Meanwhile, many black Republican Party activists and political leaders have either been ignored by Trump or keep their distance because they disagree with his divisive racial rhetoric.

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Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman, and Chris Volo, right, arrive at Singapore’s Changi Airport on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

“Black Republicans across the country are confused and agitated with the rise and recognition given to Kanye, Rodman and the like,” said Telly Lovelace, who used to head up African American outreach and media for the Republican National Committee.

The most visible black people who stand for Trump, including Omarosa Manigault, who worked in the White House for just under a year before being forced out, appear to be drawn to him more so because of his former vocation as a reality TV star, the man whose wealth and fame was the subject of gossip columns and rap songs.

Like him, they also are celebrities and political and cultural contrarians. West — who has said he didn’t vote in 2016, but if he had he would have cast his ballot for Trump — was praised by some white conservatives, who defended him on social media when critics suggested he was a sellout to the black community, or just trying to drum up publicity for his upcoming album. Conservatives have been less enthusiastic about Rodman, who did his TV interviews wearing a T-shirt promoting a digital currency company for the marijuana industry.

“For those folks, it’s definitely a cult of personality,” said Theodore Johnson, a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, whose research focuses on race and politics. “They just like the access to power.”

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Rodman, like Manigault, was a contestant on one of Trump’s “Apprentice” television shows. West was among several black celebrities, including Steve Harvey, a comedian and talk show and game show host, and former football stars Ray Lewis and Jim Brown, who were photographed at Trump Tower days after Trump stunned the political world by winning the presidency. Another pair of highly visible black Trump supporters is Diamond and Silk, the stage names of North Carolina sisters Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, who saw their profile on YouTube soar after they became supporters of Trump. They use over-the-top rhetoric and pep rally-style chants to profess their fealty and shout down critics of Trump.

Trump received only 8 percent of the black vote in the 2016 general election, and many black Republicans were on record saying they would not support him. With Manigault’s departure, Ben Carson, the former pediatric neurosurgeon who also ran for president in the last election, is the lone high-profile African American in the administration. He is the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Three African American Republicans serve in Congress — Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, Rep. Mia Love of Utah and Rep. Will Hurd of Texas. All three publicly disagreed with the president when he seemed to equate the actions of members of the KKK and other white nationalists with those of counterprotesters, one of whom was killed, during last summer’s violent clash in Charlottesville. Love, whose parents are Haitian immigrants, also sharply criticized Trump for referring to the island and other predominantly black nations as “shithole” countries.

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President Trump and Kanye West pose for a picture in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Leah Wright-Rigueur, author of “The Loneliness of the Black Republican,” said Trump’s divisive rhetoric and his administration’s policies that are perceived as hostile to communities of color have caused critics to be more incredulous of black people who support this particular GOP president.

“You’re always going to have individuals who rally around specific Republican characters, even though it seems at odds with, in this case, their racial group and public opinion polls and people who have seemingly had nothing to do with the Republican Party before.” She said the reason Rodman and West’s support for Trump “feels far more noticeable now is that so many African Americans reject Donald Trump, and not just quietly, but they resoundingly reject him.”

Lovelace said there are grass-roots black Republicans who supported Trump or who are loyal to the party and would be willing to work with the president.

“While they applaud POTUS’s efforts to drive down the black unemployment rate, they want to know when will the Trump administration truly engage with them, or are they being taken for granted?” Lovelace said.

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A customer at the Pyeongyang Myunok restaurant in Seoul eats North Korean-style cold noodles. (Joyce Lee/The Washington Post)

How my North Korean-born grandparents taught me about loss, memory and the power of Pyongyang cold noodles

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Michelle Ye Hee Lee
National reporter

One of my earliest memories is of discovering that a hard-boiled egg, when halved and with the yolk removed, doubles as a tiny bowl for a few strands of naengmyun noodles.

My “naengmyun boat” was always my first bite of the North Korean signature dish — buckwheat noodles in ice-cold beef broth garnished with pickled radish and a halved boiled egg — that my grandparents and I had for lunch every Sunday after church while I was growing up in Seoul.

For my extended family, the cold noodles were a taste of home. For me, they have been a part of my life since even before I grew teeth.

Pyongyang naengmyun (“naeng” rhymes with “hang,” and “myun” rhymes with “young”) was relatively obscure, mostly sought after by families of North Korean refugees like mine. But now it has been catapulted to international fame — thanks to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in ate Pyongyang naengmyun during a banquet at the border village of Panmunjom. (Korea summit press pool/AP)

Pyongyang naengmyun’s subtle, clean flavors contrast with the sweeter South Korean version’s heavy seasoning and garnish. Those who try it for the first time can find it bland and will often cut the noodles with scissors because they’re so chewy. But connoisseurs know that a dash of vinegar draws out the richness of the broth and that cutting the noodles ruins the consistency.

In April, Kim brought the noodles from Pyongyang to his first meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone between the two nations.

“There is a lot of attention on our dinner menu for tonight, so I brought Pyongyang naengmyun for you from a long way,” Kim told Moon. Then, in a gesture of bridging the gap between the countries, he quipped: “Ah, I probably shouldn’t say it’s so far. I hope you enjoy it.”

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In the South, North Koreans find comfort in a familiar dish

The image of the two leaders eating Pyongyang naengmyun ­together went viral, and so did Kim’s comments. The cold noodle dish quickly became a symbol of diplomacy and history in the making — and it drew so much attention that Pyongyang naengmyun restaurants were immediately bombarded with long lines and national and international news coverage. It is already becoming this summer’s most popular dish.

As the Koreas inch closer than ever to possibly declaring the end of the Korean War, I’ve been thinking a lot about the prospect of reunification and what it would mean for families whose lives were forever upended by the war. Many of those families have a relationship with naengmyun that is similar to mine.

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Servers at the Pyeongyang Myunok restaurant in Seoul load a cart with cold noodles. (Joyce Lee/The Washington Post)

I met one of them in Seoul this week to learn what it takes to make Pyongyang naengmyun for the masses.

“When I was in college, I worked part time at my father’s restaurant. At the time, I met many elderly North Koreans,” Kim Yoo-jung, 40, whose family has run Pyongyang Myunok restaurant for four generations, told me. “They would come to our restaurants and run into people they hadn’t seen since they fled the North during the Korean War. From time to time, I would see distant relatives reuniting at our restaurant.”

For families like ours, the dish has long elicited nostalgia for a unified Korea. For me, it symbolizes the tenacity of my great-grandparents and the pains of war and resettlement that have been woven into my family’s identity through generations.

Keep reading this story

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Will 2018 be a leap forward for women or just another small step?

“Not men wearing skirts”: A wave of female candidates campaign to change the voice of Congress

This election cycle has been dubbed the “Year of the Woman.” So was 1992. We’re hearing a lot of the same rhetoric this year that we did back in the ’90s.

An unprecedented number …

A flood …

A surge …

A wave …

… Of women are running for office.

What connects — and separates — these two notable generations of female candidates? The Washington Post talked to Patty Murray, who was elected to the Senate in 1992, as well as a new generation of first-time candidates — Democrats Mikie Sherrill in New Jersey, Lauren Underwood in Illinois and Republican Pearl Kim in Pennsylvania — about what motivated them to run. The stories they tell about the obstacles they face and their motivations to run create a link between these two waves of female candidates. Watch the video above.

And yes, there’s a wave of women running for office, but what are their chances of winning in November and shifting the gender balance of Congress? We’ve compiled a graphic that tracks each candidate’s chances of winning, and spotlights candidates who could make history if elected.

— Kayla Epstein

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Why the gender diversity of film critics on Rotten Tomatoes matters (The Lily)

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