Throughout 2017, President Donald Trump has used Twitter as his bully pulpit “in personal, frightening ways,” attacking people of color, especially Black people, and others he perceives as against him.
The Atlantic magazine examined one week in November and found that over 40 percent of Trump’s tweets and retweets were aimed at Black people. He has gone after Black politicians and Black sportscasters: “He and his office have launched sustained, coordinated verbal assaults” as well on ESPN Anchor Jemele Hill and Florida U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson after they publicly disagreed with the president, wrote The Atlantic staff writer Vann R. Newkirk II.
Trump has gone after Black fathers, in particular LaVar Ball, after one of his sons was among three UCLA players arrested for shoplifting in China in November. The president claimed that he got them released and Ball and the young men didn’t thank him properly. The elder Ball, on the other hand, questioned just how much Trump really played a part in his son’s release.
Trump at times during the year has also taken aim at Black male athletes. He called Black NFL players “sons of bitches” after they protested against the U.S. flag and kneeled during the playing of the national anthem before games this season. The president “raged” against NBA star Steph Curry when he said he wouldn’t go to the White House if his Golden State Warriors were invited for winning the 2017 NBA championship.
“Trump is singling out Black men for not being properly grateful and for standing up for themselves,” Alex Shephard of The New Republic reported in November. “Trump has a long history of doing exactly this, inside and outside the White House.”
“It seems trite to say that Trump likes to pick fights with Black people — he picks fights with everyone,” continued Newkirk, who added that his social media use displays a “knack for knocking down the kinds of Black folks members of his base want to see knocked down — those who in a different era might have been considered “uppity.”
“I don’t follow him,” Minnesota Timberwolves veteran guard Jamal Crawford told the MSR when asked about the president’s tweets. “Other presidents in the past haven’t done it [tweeted]. I think there are issues that affect our country that are more important.”
His Wolves teammate, guard Jimmy Butler, added, “I don’t want to talk about that. I only talk about things I can control rather than drag me into that nonsense.”
The MSR asked for comment from Lenny McAllister, whom we met in St. Paul at the 2008 Republican National Convention. McAllister is an author, former talk show host, and current adjunct history professor at La Roche College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
“President Trump has exhibited tone-deafness towards many demographics of Americans, including, but not exclusively, African Americans,” McAllister observed. “Throughout his political rise, Mr. Trump has exhibited [a] willingness and talent to exploit misunderstandings, ‘gray areas,’ and over-complexities in order to drive home an ‘us-versus-them’ mantra to those that have been vocal supporters of his.”
We also talked to Indiana University doctoral candidate Johari Shuck, who works with parents of aspiring college athletes of color on the do’s and don’ts of recruiting.
Shuck said, “The president is both fascinated by and fearful of Black people.
“The Black male athletes are powerful and have made significant economic contributions to this country for decades. I believe many of his supporters have a similar view of Black people and athletes — awe and fear.”
The Shadow League.com staff in November opined on Trump’s “coded racism in which he vehemently targets Black men… It’s nothing new. It’s become an exhausting, agonizing and brain-cell-draining practice to respond to Trump’s predictable, divisive and ignorant attacks, particularly through Twitter.”
McAllister pointed out that “Race has always been one of those highest natural vulnerabilities, with many instances over the course of American history where politicians have been too willing to touch upon our national self-affliction with a self-serving precision that advances a personality, not the American people collectively.
“This dynamic will likely not change with a man that has offended Blacks, women, Christians, Muslims, and geopolitical allies alike,” McAllister said. “It is easier to be ‘overly critical’ with African Americans than it is other groups in America.”
McAllister, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2016, surmised that as the second year of his presidency is upon us, Trump’s tweets against Blacks and others won’t end anytime soon. “Sadly, Mr. Trump is not insensitive on issues of race because he is a bigot. Primarily, he is insensitive on issues of race because he is insensitive on many things in general.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is the senior staff writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at email@example.com