Barack Obama was intelligent, highly educated, literate, erudite, personable, witty and seemed to have a happy family. The fact that he was also black led some to believe that, with his election, the United States had become ‘post-racist’. Unfortunately, this turned out not to be so.
The opprobrium heaped on Barack Obama and his wife and children by people one could now loosely refer to as supporters of Donald Trump (trumpettes) is nothing short of astonishing. Barack Obama was constantly referred to as a Kenyan Muslim who hated the US, despite producing his birth certificate stating that he was born in Hawaii. There are some half-witted trumpettes who still believe that birth certificate was a forgery. Numerous trumpettes to whom I have spoken constantly refer to Obama as ‘Nobama’ or simply in lower case (obama or obummer), as if that somehow makes them superior. They often also state they were ‘ashamed’ of his period in office or felt embarrassed for the United States. They need not have worried, because looking at it from the outside, he was a better president in almost every conceivable way, than all his predecessors that I have seen.
Rarely on this side of the planet did we hear such local racist taunts as those outside a high school in Phoenix, Arizona, where he was referred to as a ‘black sheep’, a ‘47% negro’, or a ‘half-white muslim’. There were even some who, bizarrely, blamed his presence and policies for ‘dividing the races’, seemingly oblivious to their own bigotry1. The ferocity of the opposition during his period in office, and the lack of respect shown him has often been put down to racism2.
Michelle Obama has not escaped this opprobrium either, being referred to as a little bit ‘uppity’ or being referred to as one of her husband’s ‘cronies of colour’. She has even been referred to as an ‘ape in heels’3, or as I have heard several times: ‘Moochelle’ as if she was somehow sponging off the public teat.
The Obama daughters have also had their unfair share of abuse, with one trumpette indicating to me that they were adopted, or even stolen from their biological parents. The elder of the two daughters, Malia, has been admitted to Harvard University for her undergraduate course. Some commenters on the Fox (Faux) News website used the n-word to describe her, while one even wished she would get cancer or AIDS ‘or one of those coloured diseases’. Others cited her admission as ‘black privilege’ or due to ‘affirmative action’4. These comments were removed by Faux News, but the fact that they appeared at all suggests much about Faux News and not just the people who follow it.
While there are undoubtedly a few alt-right nutters who long for the days of the KKK, they are hopefully few and far between. Unlike them, the average trumpette thinks they aren’t racist because they no longer burn black churches, lynch uppity blacks or walk across the street to avoid black people. They think they aren’t racist because they go to the same cafes, restaurants and movies theatres that black people go to. They think they aren’t racist because they work with black people, and maybe sometimes socialise with them. They will quite happily work with black people, but they will not work for black people. This may not be the virulent murderous racism like the good old days of the KKK, but it is still racism.