Surgeon General Jerome Adams shows his inhaler during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House at which he made a personal appeal to communities of color to follow federal guidelines.
(Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) issued a statement condemning the highly offensive White House Briefing Room remarks by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams who singled out African Americans, saying they should avoid “alcohol, tobacco, and drugs,” and encouraged minorities to “do this, if not for yourself, then for your abuela. Do it for your granddaddy, do it for your Big Mama, do it for your pop-pop.” Her statement follows:

“Donald Trump has found a new vessel by which to spew his racist dog whistles: his Surgeon General Jerome Adams. That the Surgeon General of the United States would stand before the American people – and his community – and deliver an address riddled with racist tropes in the midst of a public health crisis is absolutely unconscionable and deeply offensive. Instead of using the full power of his office to better inform and direct resources to the African American community, Jerome Adams used his five minutes of fame to do Trump’s dirty work and insult African Americans and other communities of color. Those of us who understand our history heard today’s so-called advice from a Trump acolyte for what it was: a backhanded attack on African Americans and communities of color by an incompetent administration that has utterly failed to rise up to the challenge that coronavirus presents to this country.

“Donald Trump and his sycophants know full well that this administration’s botched response to this crisis will be well documented in history. You can rest assured that whenever Trump and his minions are confronted with a crisis, they point to their favorite scapegoats: communities of color. At the onset of this crisis, Trump used racial slurs to describe the coronavirus that led to violence against the Asian American Pacific Islander community. Trump attempted to blame President Obama for his own administration’s lies and failures to produce tests for the American people. He has repeatedly attacked African American journalists, Yamiche Alcindor and April Ryan, for simply doing their job. Today, however, he appointed Jerome Adams to do his racist bidding.

Representative Maxine Waters (AP photo)

“While Trump, Adams, and others are busying pointing the finger and spewing lies, thousands of people in this country – particularly African Americans — are dying. According to preliminary data, African Americans in Los Angeles County make up 9 percent of the population, but 17 percent of the COVID-19 related deaths.[1] African Americans in Michigan represented 40 percent of deaths, yet only comprise 14 percent of the state’s population.[2] In Wisconsin, specifically Milwaukee County, African Americans make up 70 percent of all COVID-19 deaths, despite being 27 percent of the population. Similarly, in Louisiana, African Americans represent approximately 32 percent of the overall population, but account for 70 percent of COVID-19 deaths.[3]

“Trump, Jerome Adams, and anyone else in this administration who believes that insulting minority communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic is appropriate, are not worth their weight in salt. Jerome Adams and all others who condoned this offensive and flawed presentation to the America people should be removed from our nation’s coronavirus task force without delay.”