By Ada Carlston ’21
The events of the COVID-19 pandemic and police brutality toward Black Americans have exposed the true colors of the President of the United States, Donald Trump, and his supporters. Those true colors are often untenable to those who disagree with Trump’s character and policies. As for his supporters, his “leadership” and “economy” often carry more weight than his racist tendencies.
In terms of the pandemic, the United States has heard an array of abrupt statements from President Donald Trump. Trump’s claims such as “the Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA” or “anybody that wants a test can get a test...that’s what the bottom line is” reassured many, whose oblivious characters allowed them to believe the president.
Trump’s confident statement about the available testing was proven false by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which reported that a capacity of only 75,000 national tests was available at the time of Trump’s comment (March 6, 2020).
Some may argue that it is unfair to critique Trump’s handling of this pandemic because of the unpredictability of COVID-19. Sure, the unpredictability of this pandemic has placed everyone in a state of uncertainty and panic. However, when the United States’ cases soared above those of China, Trump’s claim that COVID-19 was “very much under control in the USA” proved to be bogus. The spike in cases was inevitable. Even so, Trump’s blatant lies and disregard for information regarding this deadly virus have proven to be problematic for both his supporters and the wellbeing of all Americans.
The intersectionality between racism and COVID-19 is worth unpacking. The virus’ Chinese origin has led to a spike in racism towards Chinese-Americans. Trump further proves to be a problem with his racism towards Chinese Americans. At a youth rally in Phoenix, AZ on June 24, 2020, Trump called COVID-19 the “Kung Flu.” Trump continues to use racial slurs and insensitive statements and comparisons for entertainment, and his supporters condone his behavior. Trump’s various racist statements and Tweets have set an example for a select group of his supporters: white supremacists. Not all Trump supporters are overt white supremacists, but white supremacists are most certainly Trump supporters.
To worship a president under the name of white supremacy is to slander the president’s name. However, how much can we shield Trump from this urgent problem? After all, he described the participants of the Charlottesville, VA white supremacy rally as “very fine people.” Trump’s attempt to stay neutral during the Charlottesville incident informs the answer to the question of Trump being a white supremacist himself.
White supremacists have been a part of American history for far longer than Trump’s presidency, but his continual neutrality around the topic of white supremacy perpetuates a notion that Trump tolerates white supremacy, rendering him the problem.
The murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, has caused an overwhelming shower of support and passion for the Black Lives Matter movement, which demands equality for, and inclusion of, Black people. Though the majority of this movement is a peaceful call for justice, the racist behavior of Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin and his colleagues sparked international outrage that has resulted in riots and looting. Unfortunately, this violence has erroneously been perceived as the agenda of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Minneapolis, MN riots and those across the nation are not with the intention to destroy America. President Trump reacted to the riots in a tweet, writing, “These THUGS are dishonoring the death of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen.” When we compare the phrase “very fine people” when describing white supremacists to “THUGS,” who are activists, there is a clear trend of Trump’s rhetoric.
The discussion about riots and looting is a complicated one. However, Trump’s failure to acknowledge the history of riots and looting in the United States as a means of attaining equality is undeniably present. President Trump has spoken more about riots and looting than he has the systemic racism that triggered the entire population and even foreign countries.
I have spent countless hours scrolling through racist statements from Trump himself. I am often met with the phrase “it was taken out of context” when I insist that he is blatantly racist. With his own outspoken racist tendencies and sentiments, President Trump has proven that racism can never be taken out of context.
President Donald Trump provides a space for white supremacy to thrive and grow in the United States. His utter disregard for the significant past and present status of racism in this country allows the general group of his supporters to also sweep this discussion under the rug.
With a leader like Trump, this country will never progress, nor will its people actively dismantle systemic racism. The world watches as President Trump reads from a script describing his acceptance and care for the People of Color who suffer at the hands of his behavior and character.