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According to a new report from The Daily Beast, during a taping for the 2013 season of The Celebrity Apprentice, now-presidential nominee Donald Trump repeatedly referred to rapper Lil Jon as “Uncle Tom.”
Jon was dressed up like Uncle Sam for that day’s challenge, and when Trump heard about the costume, he joked that he was dressed like “Uncle Tom,” three Apprentice staffers confirmed to The Daily Beast. According to one of those staffers, it appeared that Trump had no idea the phrase — which refers to a black person who is overeager to gain the approval of white people — is derogatory.
“He just couldn’t grasp that it was offensive. … When [Trump] decides he wants to do something, that’s his way,” said the staffer.
The Apprentice staffers said the incident became a “mini-crisis” when Arsenio Hall — a guest on that episode — heard Trump use the phrase “Uncle Tom” and expressed his displeasure to the staff.
On Friday night, Lil Jon took to Twitter to address the news with a statement.
“When this ‘Uncle Tom’ incident happened on Celebrity Apprentice in the boardroom several of my castmates and I addressed Mr. Trump immediately. I can’t say if he knew what he was saying or not, but he did stop using that term once we explained it’s offensiveness,” the rapper’s statement reads. “I also want to be clear that I don’t agree with many of the statements Mr. Trump has said during his current run for President.”
— LILJON (@LilJon) October 15, 2016
Trump has been accused of racism throughout his presidential campaign, though he has assured voters during speeches and the first two debates that he would be the better choice of leader for African-Americans.
This story originally appeared on Billboard.com.
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