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(7,006 posts)
Thu Sep 7, 2017, 11:29 AM Sep 2017

The First White President - Masterfully Written Article In The Atlantic By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Be Forewarned: This Truth Written Will Make You Uncomfortable and That Is The Point.

As To Not Confront What Has Occurred In Allowing The First White President Into The Most Powerful Position In The Land - The President of The United States - and the Continual Denial For Comfort and Sensibilities - The Heirloom Factor That Placed Him In That Position - Is Frankly BS People of Color Must Refuse To Allow To Be Continually Shoved Under The Table......

From The Masterful Generation X African-American Writer: TA-NEHISI COATES

It is insufficient to state the obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact. With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness—that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them. Land theft and human plunder cleared the grounds for Trump’s forefathers and barred others from it.

Once upon the field, these men became soldiers, statesmen, and scholars; held court in Paris; presided at Princeton; advanced into the Wilderness and then into the White House. Their individual triumphs made this exclusive party seem above America’s founding sins, and it was forgotten that the former was in fact bound to the latter, that all their victories had transpired on cleared grounds. No such elegant detachment can be attributed to Donald Trump—a president who, more than any other, has made the awful inheritance explicit.

His political career began in advocacy of birtherism, that modern recasting of the old American precept that black people are not fit to be citizens of the country they built. But long before birtherism, Trump had made his worldview clear. He fought to keep blacks out of his buildings, according to the U.S. government; called for the death penalty for the eventually exonerated Central Park Five; and railed against “lazy” black employees. “Black guys counting my money! I hate it,” Trump was once quoted as saying. “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” After his cabal of conspiracy theorists forced Barack Obama to present his birth certificate, Trump demanded the president’s college grades (offering $5 million in exchange for them), insisting that Obama was not intelligent enough to have gone to an Ivy League school, and that his acclaimed memoir, Dreams From My Father, had been ghostwritten by a white man, Bill Ayers.

It is often said that Trump has no real ideology, which is not true—his ideology is white supremacy, in all its truculent and sanctimonious power. Trump inaugurated his campaign by casting himself as the defender of white maidenhood against Mexican “rapists,” only to be later alleged by multiple accusers, and by his own proud words, to be a sexual violator himself. White supremacy has always had a perverse sexual tint. Trump’s rise was shepherded by Steve Bannon, a man who mocks his white male critics as “cucks.”

The word, derived from cuckold, is specifically meant to debase by fear and fantasy—the target is so weak that he would submit to the humiliation of having his white wife lie with black men. That the slur cuck casts white men as victims aligns with the dicta of whiteness, which seek to alchemize one’s profligate sins into virtue. So it was with Virginia slaveholders claiming that Britain sought to make slaves of them. So it was with marauding Klansmen organized against alleged rapes and other outrages. So it was with a candidate who called for a foreign power to hack his opponent’s email and who now, as president, is claiming to be the victim of “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.”

In Trump, white supremacists see one of their own. Only grudgingly did Trump denounce the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke, one of its former grand wizards—and after the clashes between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, Duke in turn praised Trump’s contentious claim that “both sides” were responsible for the violence.

To Trump, whiteness is neither notional nor symbolic but is the very core of his power. In this, Trump is not singular. But whereas his forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies. The repercussions are striking: Trump is the first president to have served in no public capacity before ascending to his perch. But more telling, Trump is also the first president to have publicly affirmed that his daughter is a “piece of ass.” The mind seizes trying to imagine a black man extolling the virtues of sexual assault on tape (“When you’re a star, they let you do it”), fending off multiple accusations of such assaults, immersed in multiple lawsuits for allegedly fraudulent business dealings, exhorting his followers to violence, and then strolling into the White House. But that is the point of white supremacy—to ensure that that which all others achieve with maximal effort, white people (particularly white men) achieve with minimal qualification. Barack Obama delivered to black people the hoary message that if they work twice as hard as white people, anything is possible. But Trump’s counter is persuasive: Work half as hard as black people, and even more is possible.

For Trump, it almost seems that the fact of Obama, the fact of a black president, insulted him personally. The insult intensified when Obama and Seth Meyers publicly humiliated him at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011. But the bloody heirloom ensures the last laugh. Replacing Obama is not enough—Trump has made the negation of Obama’s legacy the foundation of his own. And this too is whiteness. “Race is an idea, not a fact,” the historian Nell Irvin Painter has written, and essential to the construct of a “white race” is the idea of not being a nigger.

Before Barack Obama, niggers could be manufactured out of Sister Souljahs, Willie Hortons, and Dusky Sallys. But Donald Trump arrived in the wake of something more potent—an entire nigger presidency with nigger health care, nigger climate accords, and nigger 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. And so it will not suffice to say that Trump is a white man like all the others who rose to become president. He must be called by his rightful honorific—America’s first white president.

The four part article/essay is available in audio form here. It is suggested the entire piece is read and/or listened to -- to truly understand how and why Donald Trump is in the office of President of the United States.
31 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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The First White President - Masterfully Written Article In The Atlantic By Ta-Nehisi Coates (Original Post) LovingA2andMI Sep 2017 OP
To Do today: Time and this book! haveahart Sep 2017 #1
Off to the greatest page malaise Sep 2017 #2
It Is Beautifully Uncomfortably Written..... LovingA2andMI Sep 2017 #3
Quite The Essay ProfessorGAC Sep 2017 #4
The truth often hurts malaise Sep 2017 #5
It's not truth about me, and bigotry is not genetically linked to skin color. Hortensis Sep 2017 #15
Just finished listening to the first 50 minutes. Wow. Not for the faint of heart. haveahart Sep 2017 #6
OUCH! Billy Jingo Sep 2017 #7
he is a brilliant, beautiful writer. Hamlette Sep 2017 #8
Seriously, people? This is getting only 19 recs?? TygrBright Sep 2017 #9
Most Definitely... LovingA2andMI Sep 2017 #11
I would imagine CakeGrrl Sep 2017 #18
It really is a must read. Breathtaking writing. Spot on. nt riderinthestorm Sep 2017 #10
k&r DesertRat Sep 2017 #12
Searing and very necessary. Thank you! bettyellen Sep 2017 #13
the points he makes about the Russian's interference in the election JI7 Sep 2017 #14
NC Democratic friends of mine on Facebook received anti-Obama fake news articles wishstar Sep 2017 #17
Not impressed. The article's hook, "First White President," is not much more than that. Hortensis Sep 2017 #16
This message was self-deleted by its author irisblue Sep 2017 #20
You'd be impressed, if you'd gotten the point. Perhaps read beyond the headline. Coates backs it up. chimpymustgo Sep 2017 #21
i finished around a quarter of the article a few days back clu Sep 2017 #23
Nope. There is a real distinction that most white people cannot even grasp. Coates rips the skin off chimpymustgo Sep 2017 #24
you reply nope clu Sep 2017 #28
Curious - what are your thoughts now? chimpymustgo Sep 2017 #29
The Atlantic is a favorite journal, but imo this is not one of his better pieces. Hortensis Sep 2017 #25
I thought the article talked all about these things. kwassa Sep 2017 #31
What specifically leads you to that unsupported allegation? LanternWaste Sep 2017 #30
K & R Duppers Sep 2017 #19
DURec leftstreet Sep 2017 #22
Can't wait cilla4progress Sep 2017 #26
K N R-ed Faux pas Sep 2017 #27


(7,006 posts)
3. It Is Beautifully Uncomfortably Written.....
Thu Sep 7, 2017, 12:03 PM
Sep 2017

As That Is The Way True History and the Telling Of Such, Should Indeed Be.

Hands Off To Mr. Coates -- The Greatest Writer of Our African-American and AMERICAN Gen X - Generation!


(58,785 posts)
15. It's not truth about me, and bigotry is not genetically linked to skin color.
Fri Sep 8, 2017, 06:52 AM
Sep 2017

It's genetically linked to personality and pretty much equally found in all racial groups. I am ashamed of and frightened for my nation, yes, but basically expect the America who elected Obama to bring us through this.


(15,415 posts)
8. he is a brilliant, beautiful writer.
Thu Sep 7, 2017, 04:04 PM
Sep 2017

I have three friends or relatives who adopted African American babies. I think this is as close as any of us whites will get to really seeing/feeling racism. All three mothers have been shocked and profoundly saddened by how it permeates everything for these kids. It is a truly evil force in our society.


(20,811 posts)
9. Seriously, people? This is getting only 19 recs??
Thu Sep 7, 2017, 09:17 PM
Sep 2017

I guess we simply add our mite of evidence to the mountain that Coates describes in the article.



(7,006 posts)
11. Most Definitely...
Thu Sep 7, 2017, 11:46 PM
Sep 2017

It appears to be a hard read for some folks. Probably, the amount of #SPOTONTRUTH is difficult for some to digest.


(10,611 posts)
18. I would imagine
Fri Sep 8, 2017, 07:12 AM
Sep 2017

that there are a lot of people reading this who are one degree of separation from a Trump voter who has this as their fundamental motivation, be it a relative, friend, or colleague.

It's the elephant in the room.


(89,384 posts)
14. the points he makes about the Russian's interference in the election
Fri Sep 8, 2017, 06:14 AM
Sep 2017

if you look at a lot of the fake news it's targeted to appeal to racists .

<But the power is ultimately suicidal. Trump evinces this, too. In a recent New Yorker article, a former Russian military officer pointed out that interference in an election could succeed only where “necessary conditions” and an “existing background” were present. In America, that “existing background” was a persistent racism, and the “necessary condition” was a black president. >


(5,283 posts)
17. NC Democratic friends of mine on Facebook received anti-Obama fake news articles
Fri Sep 8, 2017, 07:08 AM
Sep 2017

I am not on Facebook but friends told me about articles that popped up last year on their Facebook with nice pics of Obamas that drew them in to read more, only to find fake defamatory accusations


(58,785 posts)
16. Not impressed. The article's hook, "First White President," is not much more than that.
Fri Sep 8, 2017, 07:04 AM
Sep 2017

This author is vastly overstating racist reaction, huge as it was, by presenting it as essentially the only factor in Rump's election and completely ignores all the other resentments and fears for the future that lead trumpsters to rebel against their party's leadership, also huge.

It might be helpful to know that most of my deep-South neighbors despise and condemn the kind of white supremacists we saw in Charlotte. Those influences are of course not new here, and they've been rejecting them for a very long time. I won't say they, like most white people, are not comfortable with institutionalized white advantages and strongly prefer that not change entirely, but their fondness is for what they have always known. Conservatives, especially, don't embrace change, any change, if they can avoid it, and most of the fear and anxiety are about galloping change.

The trumpsters should be despised for their despicable deed, but their rebellion is not all about black, the malignant white supremacists should be chased back to the sewers they've been emboldened to emerge from, and as for the rest of us, we're still the nation that elected Obama in the first place

Response to Hortensis (Reply #16)


(12,774 posts)
21. You'd be impressed, if you'd gotten the point. Perhaps read beyond the headline. Coates backs it up.
Sat Sep 9, 2017, 01:12 PM
Sep 2017


Trump moved racism from the euphemistic and plausibly deniable to the overt and freely claimed. This presented the country’s thinking class with a dilemma. Hillary Clinton simply could not be correct when she asserted that a large group of Americans was endorsing a candidate because of bigotry. The implications—that systemic bigotry is still central to our politics; that the country is susceptible to such bigotry; that the salt-of-the-earth Americans whom we lionize in our culture and politics are not so different from those same Americans who grin back at us in lynching photos; that Calhoun’s aim of a pan-Caucasian embrace between workers and capitalists still endures—were just too dark. Leftists would have to cope with the failure, yet again, of class unity in the face of racism. Incorporating all of this into an analysis of America and the path forward proved too much to ask. Instead, the response has largely been an argument aimed at emotion—the summoning of the white working class, emblem of America’s hardscrabble roots, inheritor of its pioneer spirit, as a shield against the horrific and empirical evidence of trenchant bigotry.

Packer dismisses the Democratic Party as a coalition of “rising professionals and diversity.” The dismissal is derived from, of all people, Lawrence Summers, the former Harvard president and White House economist, who last year labeled the Democratic Party “a coalition of the cosmopolitan élite and diversity.” The inference is that the party has forgotten how to speak on hard economic issues and prefers discussing presumably softer cultural issues such as “diversity.” It’s worth unpacking what, precisely, falls under this rubric of “diversity”—resistance to the monstrous incarceration of legions of black men, resistance to the destruction of health providers for poor women, resistance to the effort to deport parents, resistance to a policing whose sole legitimacy is rooted in brute force, resistance to a theory of education that preaches “no excuses” to black and brown children, even as excuses are proffered for mendacious corporate executives “too big to jail.” That this suite of concerns, taken together, can be dismissed by both an elite economist like Summers and a brilliant journalist like Packer as “diversity” simply reveals the safe space they enjoy. Because of their identity.




(494 posts)
23. i finished around a quarter of the article a few days back
Sat Sep 9, 2017, 01:20 PM
Sep 2017

but I need to go back and give it honest attention. what I derive from the two paragraphs above (out of context from the rest of the article) is that in the atmosphere of a racist tinge to society, the democratic party as described by Summers is a coalition of cosmopolitan elites showing off their diversity.

again I say - economic class is more of a root cause than simple racism and it has the destructive capacity to contribute to a positive feedback cycle that reinforces stereotypes for the weak minded.


(12,774 posts)
24. Nope. There is a real distinction that most white people cannot even grasp. Coates rips the skin off
Sat Sep 9, 2017, 01:24 PM
Sep 2017

It took me a couple of days to get through the article (given RL), but it's essential reading to understanding America.



(494 posts)
28. you reply nope
Sat Sep 9, 2017, 02:12 PM
Sep 2017

but it would be nice to know if you disagree with part #1 or part #2 of my statement. part #2 is the most prominent and measurable aspect of my reply.

edit: sorry - knee-jerk reply before having finished the entire piece in the atlantic.


(58,785 posts)
25. The Atlantic is a favorite journal, but imo this is not one of his better pieces.
Sat Sep 9, 2017, 01:39 PM
Sep 2017

Yes, he's presenting his point. But it's a very limiting, narrow one and distorting of reality in its narrowness. We'd castigate a white author for insisting the rump vote was really just all about economic anxiety.

He is a powerful writer, and what I'd like to see from him, if he hasn't already and I missed it, is discussion of the role of collaborators with those who truly are animated by racism and other unleashed reflections of bad character: the "decent" conservatives we once thought would never descend to this and various others who helped elect Rump, too many out of nothing but overweening malice toward a perfectly decent woman.

If we're to state things in big, fat, black marker strokes, let's address this: That we do really know now how Germany became Nazi Germany. Neither disaster could have happened without the collaborators.


(23,340 posts)
31. I thought the article talked all about these things.
Tue Sep 12, 2017, 12:39 AM
Sep 2017

I don't believe that Coates ever said racism was the only reason; it is his argument that it is the dominant reason, and I found him quite convincing. I thought it a great takedown of the working class argument made for Trump.

All who voted for Trump participated in the racism, and almost all were white. The only collaborators were people of color who voted for Trump.



(37,748 posts)
30. What specifically leads you to that unsupported allegation?
Mon Sep 11, 2017, 01:45 PM
Sep 2017

"by presenting it as essentially the only factor in Rump's election..."

What specifically leads you to that unsupported allegation?

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