21 thoughts on “The First White President”

  1. Thank you, Professor, for your thoughtful selections for these five weeks, and for your infinite insight into these seven works.

    I agree with you that Coates comes out the gate swinging, he is no-holds-barred in his scathing critique of Trump as the white supremacist in rich man’s clothing, reinforcing the white agenda, this cabal of patriarchy and privilege, and ick, plain ick, that rules this nation, has it by the chokehold we’ve sadly grown accustomed to. What I appreciated in this piece too which you touch upon a bit is Coates’ subtle enlightening to the white readers of the Atlantic, to the background data and history of white supremacy, so clear Coates is, so clear he is in holding to task the perpetrators of racism. It’s a brilliant piece and I read it breathlessly, as I imagined him writing it.

    1. Thank you for your comments and participation! I appreciate it.
      There is a simplicity to Trump that is too disturbing to face for many of us, as it harkens back to a time we want to think is behind us. Coates just cuts through the niceties and shows this brutal, disturbing simplicity.

  2. I feel that there’s a lot of things about Trump are simple, (that once you see the pattern, you start to see that the insanity is just stupidity) about what happens around him, and the things he does. Those things are just stupidly simple that most of the people just skipped that possibility entirely. Trump is not smart and he does not think far, he is all about three things: grifting, profiting, and ego-boosting, nothing else. And these three things definitely helped to explain why Trump did certain things a certain way he did it. Trump doesn’t have an agenda, well, not the professional ones. His goals are just three things, one is looking tough, two is revenge on Obama, three is profit (like I said, the big three, profiting, grifting, and ego-boosting). There wasn’t a justifiable reason for him to exit out the Paris agreement and slash ACA (along with undoing almost all Obama era policy) which people criticize Trump as an insane person. But once you see through the filter, it’s not really insane, it’s pure stupid (it was all about looking tough and revenge on Obama for making fun of him about a birth certificate for years). If this is the case, one question that could be asked is if he’s stupid, then who came up with the ideas of things he does during his presidency? The answer is those who are behind him, and one clear example is Stephen Miller (who came up with family separation and kids in cages).

    About Trump’s successful election, there are two factors to it. One, people don’t trust those who know more than them (in this case, politics), and that’s why they speculate the current politicians hiding things behind the door and lying to the public. And there’s Trump, who just saying random things and making false promises, so people raise false hopes that he’s the one that really connects them to politics (while neglecting all the red lights such as his tax return, Stormy Daniels, and Hollywood access bus tape). Two, Fox News and Info War, along with others like them, I think it’s clear enough that requires no explanation to make the connection.

    And about Trump himself, I don’t really think that he truly believes in white supremacy (he only “believes” it because it’s the only group that supports him and will potentially keeps him going), because I think he just doesn’t care about anything but himself and his lifestyle (three things I mentioned earlier) And the examples keep rolling in and ranged from the stupid ones (doctored hurricane map, a tax cut for rich) to the serious ones (BLM, COVID-19).

    Lastly, I would like to thank you, professor, for making this class happened online. Things surely aren’t easy and are complicated (well not really, it’s natural disaster+ human misconduct(stupidity) along with them doubling down, tripling down on their mistakes= an even bigger disaster that keeps getting worse and the impact of it will last who knows how long), but I’m glad that we are now completed this course.

    The show is far from over, and the next few months will be the most eventful ones in 2020, or perhaps EVER. It was my honor to take ur class, and I wish you the best professor.

    1. Thank you! very smart take on Trump. Sometimes simplicity is really harder to face, and we scramble around for sophisticated reasons to justify what happened.
      he’s truly stupid on all fronts, but he is peculiarly intelligent on one: he knows well how to manipulate the media, how to bait them to keep him in the headlines 24/7. in doing so, he is revealing the sheer stupidity of the mainstream media.

  3. Trump resonates with the traditional, all-American definition of what exactly it means to be “white”. This loosely defined yet overtly anti-black sentiment proved enough to rally Trumps troops. I like how you summed up Trump’s clear agenda: not just to roll back Obama’s accomplishments, but to roll back a black mans accomplishments. Realizing many of the people that voted for Obama ultimately helped Trump get elected was a rude awakening for me. I was one of the misguided elitist liberals, believing the lowly educated whites were the reason for Clintons demise. I must point out, with Coates claim the the attitude I had, along with the calling out of Trumps insults, “is assigned more power than the bigotry itself”, as it is insinuated day-in and day-out by the main institution that allow his power to stay unchecked: the media (mainly Fox News). It can’t be understated how, when left unchecked, certain values are dismissed, others cultivated to thrive (such as racism). This is hinted at by Coates but something I find very interesting.

    1. Thank you! I totally agree. I think the media, and not just FOX, are as big a problem as Trump himself. they are corporations with benefit as their main goals, and Trump does bring a lot of money to the media, both for his side and for his opponents. so they cover him 24/7, and even the negative coverage helps him, because in American culture visibility always trumps credibility (pun intended).

  4. Firstly, I wanted to thank you professor, for an insightful five weeks from this course. The readings were all very entertaining and informative!

    As for Donald Trump, I’m still shocked to this very day that he has become our President. It’s absurd to know about the things he has done, and what he has supported, and then to all of a sudden allow him to run our country. Coates did not old anything back against his hatred of Trump, and I completely agreed with him. He had no right to question Obama’s intelligence either from the reading, because truth be told, Trump isn’t the brightest. It’s unfortunate he ran our country for this long, and hopefully will not be running it for much longer with the upcoming election.

    1. Thank you! it is indeed an every day shock. but it’s important to remember that he lost the popular vote by 3 million, which is how a democracy should work. the broken electoral college system gave him the upper hand.

  5. Trump’s entire presidential platform began on the basis of racism, he promised to build a wall in order to keep the “rapist” Mexicans from coming into the U.S., promised anti-immigrant policies such as, the Muslim ban and would often relate black communities to having higher crime rates. I believe the fact that the BLM movement began towards the end of Obama’s presidency was a major factor in displaying the social unrest surrounding race relations in the country. Thus, Trump’s promises to back police forces and ensure the safety of Americans through nearly dictator-like policies, ensured the country that they may go back to some sense of normality. The fact of the matter ends up being that Trump’s win was racially-charged. It may be difficult to think that individuals who voted for a black president could be racist but Trump surely gained many Obama voters who in some facet did possess anti-immigrant and anti-black sentiments. Trump’s entire obsession with rolling back the policies that were put forth by Obama is a clear indication of the white supremacy that he attempts to uphold. Trump is the embodiment of white privilege with a slew of sexual misconduct allegations against him, no political experience and having allegedly evaded paying taxes for years. Yet, he sits in the Oval Office untouched. Every policy enacted during the Obama-era is almost “tainted” because it was conducted by a black man. The Trump administration is a giant gerontocracy and “making America great again” is to revert the country back to a time when white men held all the power and went uncontested. It has even recently come to light that Trump cheated on his SATS to gain admission to Wharton. That would certainly explain his obsession with wanting Obama to reveal his college transcripts. In every facet, Trump looks to undermine the achievements of the black community and the immigrant population in the United States. As a man who inherited his wealth and power from his family, Trump is incapable of understanding the plight of any race, community or class lacking in the privilege that he was born with.

    1. Thank you! I love the use of the word “taint” here. it’s exactly how a white supremacist looks at the legacy of Obama: no matter how successful he was, how much his policies helped white people as well as everyone else, they can’t stand them. for them, the proximity to blackness has already tainted those achievements.

  6. While you are right in saying that Trump tore apart policies that Obama was part of and tried to erase his legacy, I do not think that erasing Obama’s legacy was his priority. I feel that Trump’s extreme right-wing politics coupled with his bigotry translated to a foreign policy of isolationism by which Obama’s more liberal policies could not adhere to those standards. I disagree that Trump was elected as a reaction to having a black president for eight years. Many Republican congressmen did not support Trump until after he was elected President and while many of his supporters may share his value system, there were also many who voted for him because the alternative was a Democrat, specifically Hillary Clinton who was then suffering from her “October Surprise.”

    1. Thank you! I would still hold onto my view, because walking away from the Iran deal for instance makes absolutely no sense. no one in the Republican part wanted it, and his voters couldn’t care less. I still think he couldn’t tolerate anything that Obama was proud of, and it was among his priorities to dismantle his legacy as much as possible. the rest is all about his ego and profiting from this job and the media circus which he loves. I agree with you on Hilary. it’s hard to exaggerate how hated Clintons are in the US.

  7. Trump’s presidency is undoubtedly absurd. He probably didn’t expect to beat Hillary Clinton. I think he win the elected in 2016 because of the great dissatisfaction of the American people with the consequences of economic globalization. During the eight years of Obama’s administration, there was no real economic growth, but it was supported by government policies. Many American companies have set up factories overseas to reduce work in the country. In addition, military expansion policies have dragged down finances and the economic crisis has not been resolved. The American dream awakened, and people hoped that Trump would be elected like win a lottery, looking forward to a miracle. The facts is that he is indeed a failed president.
    Finally, I want to say thank you, professor, your speech inspired me and made me think more about the value of being human. I am really appreciated! Stay safe and wish you all the best!

    1. Thank you! it is an important point that he probably didn’t expect to win, as Michael Moore shows in his documentary. from then on, everything indeed looks absurd.

  8. Trump’s election was just a huge reaction to Obama being president. He represents the fear that white supremacists have of losing the power in”their” country. People that voted for Trump didn’t want the same thing as Obama, so they voted for the exact opposite. That and Hillary not running the best campaign is the reason he is a president today. Ever since the united states has been a huge reality tv show. I really hope he doesn’t win again but with the competition, he is facing I’m not confident he will lose.

    I really enjoyed this class, it really put me on to a bunch of books that I have to go back and finish.
    Thanks, Professor enjoy your summer!

    1. Thank you! it’s so important what you say: “Ever since the united states has been a huge reality tv show.” that logic has extended to the news too, and the corporate media, left and right, prefer drama and sensation over accuracy. the problem is Trump knows that game very well and can easily exploit it. he is a stupid man on all accounts but knows the media very well, and is revealing the stupidity of the media day in day out.

  9. Unfortunately, many Americans were enraged at the idea of having a black president running the country for eight years. Cornel West said in one of his speeches that “having Obama in the White House was not a sign of America post racism, it was a sign of an America less racist”. I completely agree with the professor saying Trump knew well what he was doing when he rescinded all the treaties and agreements that Obama enforced. We all know his main concern is and always will be the stock market and not the well-being of the people. Coates with his analytical essay exposed the structural racism that was built from past generations and how this belief of white supremacy came alive from the first day that Trump decided to run for president. Trump’s presidency brought widespread hate around the country. We have all seen in the last few years minorities being victimized not only by him but also by his followers, using hate speech in many shapes and forms, such as “speak English, this is America”. Trump is a white supremacist president that has emboldened racists and encouraged oppressions that we thought we were defeating.

  10. Thank you professor, it was greatly appreciated how much effort you put in to interact with the class despite the circumstances.
    When it comes to Trump being elected, it’s quite obvious there is a cult like following. But there are other factors that are under acknowledged such as how hated Hillary Clinton is even by democrats. The mistrust and lack of unity on the left also played a big role in Trump being elected. There were even some Democratic politicians who refused to endorse Clinton, one even said seriously she would put her mother’s name on the ballot when she cast her vote. There is also a lack of politicians that are in true power that actually resonate with the prime beliefs of people that are leftist. As much as I agree that Trump’s intent is attacking minorities as an appeal to his audience he would’ve been shut down long ago if the left was able to truly work together.

  11. Under Trump, the US appears to be heading downhill. Especially with his recent antics, I really wonder how he got to be President. He overtly expressed his racist views and put an end to the efforts of countless people for racial equality. And his frequent withdrawal from international institutions, more likely to be an angry decision after failure to achieve his goals, has made America look ungracious to the international community. I can’t comment on him as a person, I can only say that what he did really blew my mind.
    Finally, I’d like to pay my respects. This course has a good history back, and is closely linked to current events, which has given me a lot of thought and a deeper understanding of the past and present of racial issues. Thank you so much professor!

    1. Thank you! That’s true. Though I believe the downhill began with the Iraq war under Bush, which led to financial crisis etc. Trump is the latest symptom of it.

  12. In paragraph after paragraph, Coates articulates what has roiled my heart and mind since election night. He lays out with precision and data that I knew in my bones. White people, generally speaking, were not and are not going to slip into their impending status as “the new minority” without a fight — a fight successfully waged by a man who ran the most racist, xenophobic, misogynistic campaign for president in memory. And that was after spending years questioning the legitimacy of his predecessor, Barack Obama, by peddling the racist birther lie that the nation’s first African American president wasn’t born in the United States.

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