Melania fires back: Let’s talk about my trip, ‘not what I wear’

First lady Melania Trump with children from Nairobi orphanage

The critics were aghast at her outfit and her choice of headgear – Melania Trump, that is, during her African excursion.

From CNN: “… with the hat, Trump’s outfit might have tipped the scales, moving from a practical accessory dangerously close to costume territory evocative of colonialists.”

From the New York Times: Like showing up “on an Alabama cotton farm in a confederate uniform.”

Aljazeera: “My own view is that the U.S. first lady’s decision to wear a pith helmet was appropriate and should be taken seriously. The regime she represented in Kenya is a white supremacist one. Her husband campaigned successfully under the fascist slogan ‘America First,’ and has since implemented his ‘Muslim ban’ and encouraged the detention of migrants, including separating children from their parents and keeping them in ‘tender age’ cages.”

And that doesn’t include the Huffington Post’s rant.

But Melania’s firing back, saying, “I want to talk about my trip, not what I wear.”

According to CNN’s Kate Bennett, that’s not fair.

“This is a first lady who’s very, very careful about what she wears and what messages she does send, from her clothes to her facial expressions to … how she looks and acts,” Bennett told NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly. “We have to look for her nonverbal cues sometimes. … This was a puzzler.”

Laura Seay, an assistant professor at Colby College who studies African politics, conflict and development, told NPR that even before the (gasp!) pith helmet, Trump was “fulfilling a lot of stereotypes” on her trip.

“The way she’s dressed and the activities she’s undertaken reflect an outdated view of the continent,” Seay says. “It’s not a place looking for white saviors in colonial getup. It’s a vibrant place where there’s all sorts of innovation and creative problem-solving.”

Is everyone possibly reading a little too much into the hat?

The pith faux pas came while Melania toured Nairobi National Park in Kenya on Friday.

Maybe you’re wondering what the first lady is doing in Africa. That particular day she took a safari ride, fed baby elephants and saw some zebra. In other words, it was a fun day, an excursion. Most of the trip was business.

Trump’s trip, which took her to Ghana and Malawi focused on children – one expressed purpose of the trip was to highlight her “Be Best” initiative, which promotes “encouragement, kindness, compassion and respect” among kids.

In Malawi she toured several outdoor classrooms at Chipala Primary School in Lilongwe, the capital, on the second stop on her four-nation tour of the continent. The school is among those in the landlocked country that receive education assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development, including textbooks.

Mrs. Trump was on hand as the U.S. ambassador handed over another 1.4 million books through a U.S.-funded national reading program. Malawi’s schools have received some 9.6 million books under the program in the past several years.

Charity, not colonialism.

Meanwhile, back at CNN, they were recollecting the good old days when former first lady Michelle Obama wore bright, colorful outfits on her trips to the continent – not pith hemets.
— Read on

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