Allegations of Racism have Marked Trump’s Presidency and Become Key Issue as Election NearsHistorians in the News
tags: racism, antisemitism, Donald Trump
In Trump’s case, there is now a substantial record of his actions as president that have compounded the perceptions of racism created by his words.
Over 3½ years in office, he has presided over a sweeping U.S. government retreat from the front lines of civil rights, endangering decades of progress against voter suppression, housing discrimination and police misconduct.
His immigration policies hark back to quota systems of the 1920s that were influenced by the junk science of eugenics, and have involved enforcement practices — including the separation of small children from their families — that seemed designed to maximize trauma on Hispanic migrants.
With the election looming, the signaling behind even second-tier policy initiatives has been unambiguous.
After rolling back regulations designed to encourage affordable housing for minorities, Trump declared himself the champion of the “Suburban Lifestyle Dream.” He ordered aides to revamp racial sensitivity training at federal agencies so that it no longer refers to “White privilege.” In a speech at the National Archives on Thursday, Trump vowed to overhaul what children are taught in the nation’s schools — something only states have the power to do — while falsely claiming that students are being “fed lies about America being a wicked nation plagued by racism.”
Scholars describe Trump’s record on race in historically harsh terms. Carol Anderson, a professor of African American Studies at Emory University, compared Trump to Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Abraham Lincoln as president and helped Southern Whites reestablish much of the racial hegemony they had seemingly lost in the Civil War.
“Johnson made it clear that he was really the president of a few people, not the American people,” Anderson said. “And Trump has done the same.”
A second White House official who worked closely with Trump quibbled with the comparison, but only because later Oval Office occupants also had intolerant views.
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