By John Blake | CNN
If Gregory Cheadle had not cracked a joke, his life would be a lot less complicated today.
His troubles began when he attended a rally by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in Redding, California, in June 2016. Cheadle was a California congressional candidate at the time, and he stood out as a Black Republican.
As Cheadle watched from the VIP section of the overwhelmingly white crowd, Trump went into an extended riff about a Black supporter who had assaulted an anti-Trump protester at an Arizona rally. Trump wondered aloud where his supporter was when Cheadle decided to play along and shouted, “I’m here!”
“Oh, look at my African American over here,” Trump responded with a smile, pointing at Cheadle as some people in the crowd cheered. “Look at him. Are you the greatest?”
Cheadle laughed along with everyone else, but that soon changed. He left the rally early, took a nap at a friend’s house, and by the time he woke up, he had gone viral.
His phone was filled with texts and voicemails from reporters wanting interviews. There also were angry messages from family and friends wanting to know why he let Trump insult him. His Facebook page was filled with both Black and White people calling him “Uncle Tom” and the N-word and threatening to kick his butt.
“Oh, you got to be kidding,” he thought at the time. “America doesn’t have anything better to do than this?”
Cheadle was about to discover the loneliest place in the universe may be reserved for a man who becomes known as Trump’s Black buddy.
“Man, I did it for a joke,” he says now. “When I did it, people around me burst out laughing.” He sighs before adding: “Then the joke turned sour.”
How Cheadle’s life changed
President Donald Trump’s “great relationship with the Blacks” is back in the news. As the 2020 presidential race heads into the home stretch, one of its biggest storylines has been Trump’s vigorous attempt to recruit more Black support. Many of the top speaking slots at last month’s Republican National Convention were reserved for Black speakers.
The Trump campaign has also purchased ads in local Black radio stations and newspapers. In what may be another close election, Trump’s ability to pick off more Black voters could make the difference between winning and losing. Some polls suggest that Trump is actually performing better with Black voters than he did four years ago.
What’s happened to Cheadle since that day in 2016, though, shows how tough the Trump campaign’s challenge is going to be. For starters, he is no longer Trump’s “African American friend.”
Cheadle, 63, a real estate broker and a volunteer at a hospital emergency room, says he is a very different man than the one who went to hear Trump four years ago. He’s lost friends and gone into hiding. Trump’s shout-out even shook up …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Politics