Attorney Antonio Moore delivered a thorough, and sound critique of the new piece by Atlantic magazine writer Ta-Nehisi Coates on President Donald Trump titled, “The First White President.”
In his reply on the Huffington Post titled, “Donald Trump isn’t our First White President, and he wont be our last,” Moore argues that Coates is incorrect in his assessment of Trump’s road to the white house, and wrong in juxtaposing Trump to President Barack Obama.
Moore continues by laying out a cogent argument that at some level black celebrities from Serena Williams, to Sean “Puffy” Combs played a role of sorts, in branding Trump through association.
Read an excerpt below, and watch a video by Moore explaining his piece.
“Donald Trump isn’t our First White President, and he wont be our last,” Excerpt:
Long before Trump was even a thought, we had presidents who leveraged their whiteness to inflict great amounts of pain upon black lives. From George Washington and the 317 slaves that under-girded his white wealth, to Andrew Johnson who stood in the path of 100 years of black civil rights advancement in 1866, continuing with Richard Nixon and the modern Republican strategy of winning the presidency with the white vote. Donald Trump, with his threats of cuts to Medicaid, proposed pullbacks on education spending, and cuts to housing for the poor, is one person in a long line he hardly started, and definitely will not end. To now repaint this billionaire opportunist as the face of white oppression is wading into dangerous historical water.
It’s tempting to conclude, given the weight of the evidence against his claim, that Ta-Nehisi Coates went with the “First White President” line because it’s clever. It calls back to Bill Clinton’s dubious title coined by Toni Morrison of the “First Black President,” which we can now look back on and question with much more in-depth analysis. Yet, to call President Donald Trump first anything is to give him power he has not earned, and a place in history that etches his name far too high on the Mount Rushmore of America’s racial failures. In fact it is a slap in the face to a centuries-old civil rights movement that has ebbed and flowed but has always known that the face it was battling was not based on a singular man. But rather the power that emits from being able to claim whiteness, at the cost of all those who must be deemed black for that white privilege to exist.
Trump is not the face of whiteness; rather, he is its reflection, a glimmer of what happens when capital runs amuck. No more than a callback to when wealth was borne out of black bodies. The call by some to use the tragedy of black history to sensationalize his rise in the light of times past is seeing this problem through the wrong lens.
Coates also grounds his argument by asserting Barack Obama’s legacy is now being attacked.
“But Donald Trump arrived in the wake of something more potent—an entire [email protected]@er presidency with [email protected]@er health care, [email protected]@er climate accords, and [email protected]@er justice reform, all of which could be targeted for destruction or redemption, thus reifying the idea of being white. Trump truly is something new—the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president.”
Yet, no black pen can repaint a white lie about what happened during President Obama’s eight years on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Under Obama Black America suffered some of the worst years, it had seen since the Civil Rights movement. Fanfare about Barack Obama as a individual distorts many like Coates from clearly admitting to the impact Obama’s administration had on African American families across the country. Under Obama the amount of Small Business loans given to African Americans reached a low of 1.8%, while under Bush black recipients were over 8% of the program. Under the Bush Administration the unemployment rate for African-Americans was 10%, while under President Obama it jumped to well over 14%. African-American home ownership even dropped to nearly a 50-year low over the last 8 years. In total the wealth gap between white America and black America grew substantially under President Obama.
While in this mixed up place called America we are all bastards of some sort, to be half Kenyan, and half white is a different kind of mix. It is the kind of mix that allows you to create what Coates called so brazenly a “[email protected]@er presidency”, without doing anything for those who bear the multi-generational historical cost of being called a [email protected]@er.
We must not fall into the trap of contrasting Barack Obama to Donald Trump based on appearance, rather we must draw them as parallels based on the energy behind their respective meteoric political rises. While Trump is Obama’s senior in age, it is Obama who had two years as the United States Senator of Illinois prior to his election. Yet, this is hardly the resume of a President. Rather, it is celebrity that boosted Obama, no different than President Trump. Pictures with Jay Z, dinners with Oprah, and an overall fervor of connecting Obama to the legacy of American slavery propelled President Obama past the requisite resume to be Commander in Chief. Much the same occurred for Trump, who was able to use the cache of notoriety, and fervor for change to run as the other option for America to Hillary Clinton’s sameness. These two men are less contrast, and more parallels.
Attempts by everyone from Coates to Jemele Hill of ESPN to vilify Trump by lining him up with the label of white nationalist, will not change the fact that as recently as 2004 he identified as a Democrat. Nor that many notable black entertainers can be found in photo ops with him throughout the internet, from Puff Daddy who calls Trump a friend, to Serena Williams who danced the night away in 2015 with Donald Trump at his New Year’s Eve Party. Without this type of validation of the Trump brand by black celebrity, it’s possible we don’t have a Trump presidency.