Barack Obama Slams Jared Kushner's Suggestion That Some Black Americans Need to 'Want' to Be Successful

"Who are these folks? What history books do they read?" the former president said

Barack Obama, Jared Kushner
Former President Barack Obama (left) and Jared Kushner. Photo: Alyssa Pointer-Pool/Getty; Samuel Corum/Getty

Former President Barack Obama was quick to voice his disapproval with Jared Kushner over the latter's recent comments suggesting Black Americans need to want to be successful to see how Donald Trump has helped them.

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, 39, faced immediate backlash on Monday after an appearance on Fox & Friends in which he defended the president's relationship with Black voters.

“I think we've seen in a lot of the Black community, which is mostly Democrat, is that President Trump’s policies are the policies that can help people break out of the problems that they’re complaining about. But he can’t want them to be successful more than they want to be successful,” Kushner, who is married to Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump, said on Fox & Friends Monday morning.

On Tuesday, during a campaign rally speech in Orlando, Florida, in support of former Vice President Joe Biden, Obama, 59, expressed his disbelief at the remark from the current administration. (The White House has said Kushner was misinterpreted by "trolls.")

"[Trump] loves to talk about Black unemployment, 'look how low Black unemployment' — well, you know what, unemployment was really high when I came in and we brought that unemployment low and it kept on going low," Obama said in Orlando. "And he wants to take credit for it, says he's the best president for Black folks since Abe Lincoln. Man."

"Now his advisers are out there saying, including his son-in-law. His son-in-law says Black folks have to want to be successful, that's the problem,” Obama added. “Who are these folks? What history books do they read?”

Jared Kushner
Jared Kushner. Alex Brandon/AP/Shutterstock

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Kushner's comments earlier this week drew quick reaction. Critics said the interview epitomized an administration run by a president who regularly says racist things even as he boasts of helping minority communities.

The White House often dismisses attacks that Trump is a racist, with Trump describing himself as one of the best presidents ever for people who are Black and one of the "least racist" people in any given situation.

Rep. Don Beyer, from Virginia, said on Twitter that Kushner’s remarks equated to “casual racism." Other Democratic lawmakers also quickly called out the president’s son-in-law for perpetuating racist stereotypes.

“Jared Kushner is the face of white privilege and nepotism,” Rep. Barbara Lee, from California, tweeted. “He doesn't want to change our racist, broken system because he benefits from it. He’s the last person that should be lecturing the Black community on the value of ‘hard work.’ "

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The White House backed Kushner’s remarks. Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement that it was "disgusting to see internet trolls” misinterpreting his comments.

Ja’Ron Smith, a deputy assistant to Trump who works with Kushner, also jumped to his defense. Smith, who is Black, tweeted a photo of himself with the president’s son-in-law and called him “a man who has been a huge advocate for the issues that impact Black America.”

The Democratic National Committee responded to Kushner’s comment with its own statement, calling his approach to Black issues “divisive” and “indicative of Trump’s callousness and disregard for the lives of Black people.”

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