Politics
Donald Trump’s long history of racism, from the 1970s to 2018

By German Lopez

Trump has repeatedly claimed he’s “the least racist person.” The record suggests otherwise.

If you ask President Donald Trump whether he’s racist, he has a standard response: He claims that no, in fact, he’s “the least racist person that you’ve ever encountered.”

But Trump’s record tells a very different story.

On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly made explicitly racist and otherwise bigoted remarks — from calling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists to proposing a ban on all Muslims entering the US to suggesting that a judge should recuse himself from a case solely because of the judge’s Mexican heritage.

The trend has continued into his presidency. From stereotyping a black reporter to pandering to white supremacists after they held a violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump hasn’t stopped with the racist acts even after his election.

The latest came in remarks surfaced by the Washington Post. Talking about immigration from Haiti and African countries, Trump asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” He suggested that we should allow more people from Norway. The implication is very clear: The people coming from predominantly black countries are bad, while the people coming from a predominantly white country are good.

Meanwhile, the very first time that Trump appeared in the pages of the New York Times, back in the 1970s, was when the US Department of Justice sued him for racial discrimination. Since then, he has repeatedly appeared in newspaper pages across the world as he inspired more similar controversies.

This long history is important. It would be one thing if Trump simply misspoke one or two times. But when you take all of Trump’s actions and comments together, a clear pattern emerges — one that suggests that bigotry is not just political opportunism on Trump’s part but a real element of Trump’s personality, character, and career.

Trump has a long history of racist controversies

Here’s a breakdown of Trump’s history, taken largely from Dara Lind’s list for Vox and an op-ed by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times:

  • 1973: The US Department of Justice — under the Nixon administration, out of all administrations — sued the Trump Management Corporation for violating the Fair Housing Act. Federal officials found evidence that Trump had refused to rent to black tenants and lied to black applicants about whether apartments were available, among other accusations. Trump said the federal government was trying to get him to rent to welfare recipients. In the aftermath, he signed an agreement in 1975 agreeing not to discriminate to renters of color without admitting to discriminating before.
  • 1980s: Kip Brown, a former employee at Trump’s Castle, accused another of Trump’s businesses of discrimination. “When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor,” Brown said. “It was the eighties, I was a teenager, but I remember it: They put us all in the back.”
  • 1988: In a commencement speech at Lehigh University, Trump spent much of his speech accusing countries like Japan of “stripping the United States of economic dignity.” This matches much of his current rhetoric on China.
  • 1989: In a controversial case that’s been characterized as a modern-day lynching, four black teenagers and one Latino teenager — the “Central Park Five” — were accused of attacking and raping a jogger in New York City. Trump immediately took charge in the case, running an ad in local papers demanding, “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” The teens’ convictions were later vacated after they spent seven to 13 years in prison, and the city paid $41 million in a settlement to the teens. But Trump in October said he still believes they’re guilty, despite the DNA evidence to the contrary.
  • 1991: A book by John O’Donnell, former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, quoted Trump’s criticism of a black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” Trump at first denied the remarks, but later said in a 1997 Playboy interview that “the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.”
  • 1992: The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino had to pay a $200,000 fine because it transferred black and women dealers off tables to accommodate a big-time gambler’s prejudices.
  • 2000: In opposition to a casino proposed by the St. Regis Mohawk tribe, which he saw as a financial threat to his casinos in Atlantic City, Trump secretly ran a series of ads suggesting the tribe had a “record of criminal activity [that] is well documented.”
  • 2004: In season two of The Apprentice, Trump fired Kevin Allen, a black contestant, for being overeducated. “You’re an unbelievably talented guy in terms of education, and you haven’t done anything,” Trump said on the show. “At some point you have to say, ‘That’s enough.'”
  • 2005: Trump publicly pitched what was essentially The Apprentice: White People vs. Black People. He said he “wasn’t particularly happy” with the most recent season of his show, so he was considering “an idea that is fairly controversial — creating a team of successful African Americans versus a team of successful whites. Whether people like that idea or not, it is somewhat reflective of our very vicious world.”
  • 2010: Just a few years ago, there was a huge national controversy over the “Ground Zero Mosque” — a proposal to build a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan, near the site of the 9/11 attacks. Trump opposed the project, calling it “insensitive,” and offered to buy out one of the investors in …read more

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