Rep. Maxine Waters on African Americans, Women, and the Democratic Party

“You have to… say what you say, do what you do, and mean what you say,” says Maxine Waters.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters has been in the news recently after Fox News Host Bill O’Reilly commented on her hair during a speech she made from the House floor. She spoke on Friday in Detroit at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History along with former first lady of Haiti Mildred T. Aristide. Before the event, she told WDET’s Sascha Raiyn she believes the personal criticism came as a result of her professional work.

“I am focused on the issues,” says Waters. “I’m talking about patriotism, which bothers some people — when I challenge their patriotism. A lot of people don’t like the fact that an African American woman is talking about foreign affairs, foreign relations, and showing the kind of leadership that will challenge some of what has taken place with this president, what took place in the campaign, and what it means for America.”

This year, in response to sexual assault accusations and sexist rhetoric during the Trump campaign, women are taking action to create more space for themselves in their communities.

Waters talks about her take on this and what she’s hearing — especially from African American women around the country.

“The most important thing that I did when I have been talking on MSNBC was to say to African American women… ‘don’t allow yourself to be undermined in ways that will stop you from being who you are.’ And women are saying that all over. Women are telling their stories… Folks will try and get you off of your game. And you have to… say what you say, do what you do, and mean what you say.”

Waters believes that the Democratic Party, despite some of its flaws, is the one that will support this type of self-determination in African Americans in general. “It’s a great difference between the two parties,” she says. “Even for those times that you have to do a little fighting within your own party, there is no doubt that the Democratic Party is better for African Americans and people of color.”

To hear the full conversation, click the audio player above.


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