This Viral Hashtag Imagining Trump as Black Exposes Racist Stereotypes

November 3rd 2016

Tricia Tongco

On Thursday, the hashtag #IfTrumpWereBlack began to trend on Twitter, imagining how the actions of presidential candidate Donald Trump would be treated if he wasn't a white male. 

By engaging in this thought experiment, the tweets revealed the racially charged stereotypes black people face, such as being unfairly labeled as welfare queens, drug addicts, and sexual predators, to name a few.

Last week, CNN commentator Van Jones told late night host Bill Maher, “If Trump were black, we would call him a thug.” In a similar vein, Maher had previously asked Ann Coulter how conservatives would react if President Barack Obama had been caught talking about kissing and harassing women (she claimed she wouldn’t believe any comments made on a hot mic “if it’s right before an election.”)

Trump himself has fed into negative stereotypes about black people. During his presidential campaign, the Republican nominee has repeatedly conflated the problems facing inner cities with the totality of the black experience in America. During the second presidential debate, Trump said, “I would be a president for all of the people — African Americans, the inner cities. You go into the inner cities and you see it's 45 percent poverty, African Americans now 45 percent poverty in the inner cities. The education is a disaster. Jobs are essentially nonexistent."

The Washington Post detailed why Trump's statement was misleading and troubling, noting how they contradict federal data about the poverty rate among black city dwellers and that, in fact, poverty is generally worse in rural areas, including for black Americans. The Post concluded, "When Trump addresses black America by talking about urban centers, he overlooks the diversity of America's black population and the unique issues that affect the millions who live in the rural South and the suburbs."

Such racial biases about black people are harmful, especially as they bleed into institutions and policies. For example, Stanford research has shown teachers are more likely to describe black students as troublemakers and discipline their misbehavior more harshly than white students.

In the criminal justice system, racial disparity is even more dire. According to a 2013 report by the United States Sentencing Commission, black men are given prison sentences 20 percent longer than white men convicted of the same crimes. 

The genius of #IfTrumpWereBlack isn't just that it exposes one white man's privilege – it reveals the racial bias that permeates our culture.

[h/t Mic]