1 George M. Frederickson, The Black Image in the White Mind (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1971), 276-277
2 George M. Fredrickson, White Supremacy: A Comparative Study In American and South African History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), 100-104
3 William B. Cohen and James D. Le Sueur, The French Encounter with Africans: White Response to Blacks, 1530-1880 (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2003), 20, accessed January 21, 2018, https://books.google.nl/books?id=Swn-9NVay98C&pg=PA20&lpg=PA20&dq=licentiousness+of+africa&source=bl&ots=BrZJXXMwNz&sig=tzsr-W_tnFRAJtBUO4q_7q6B3h8&hl=nl&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiUp-6o2ObYAhWCIlAKHXxBCVcQ6AEINTAC#v=onepage&q=licentiousness%20of%20africa&f=false
4 Forest G. Wood, Black Scare: The Racist Response to Emancipation and Reconstruction (Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press),145-148, accessed January 21, 2018, https://books.google.nl/books?id=4FXXV9H0Y-oC&pg=PA53&hl=nl&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q=drugs&f=false
5 Frederickson, The Black Image, 272-276; Barbara Holden-Smith, “Lynching, Federalism, and the Intersection of Race and Gender in the Progressive Era,” Yale Journal of Law & Feminism 8, no. 1 (1995): 45-49, accessed January 22, 2018, http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1111&context=yjlf
6 Quoted in Frederickson, The Black Image, 278
7 Frederickson, The Black Image, 275-282
8 Frederickson, The Black Image, 276; Wood, Black Scare, 145-148; Holden-Smith, “Lynching, Federalism, and the Intersection of Race and Gender in the Progressive Era,” 45-49
9 Donald J. Trump, Bring Back the Death Penalty, Bring Back Our Police, (New York, May 1 ,1989), accessed online on January 21, 2018, http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1838466.1403324800!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_970/trump21n-1-web.jpg?enlarged
10 Donald J. Trump, “announcement on presidential candidacy” (speech, New York, June 16, 2015), Time, accessed online on January 21, http://time.com/3923128/donald-trump-announcement-speech/
11 Donald J. Trump, “third presidential debate” (debate, Las Vegas, Nevada, October 19, 2016), Politico, https://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/full-transcript-third-2016-presidential-debate-230063
12Fredrickson, White Supremacy, 22-24. See also Gary B. Nash , Red, White, and Black: The Peoples of Early America (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1982); Francis Jennings, The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism and the Cant of Conquest (New York: Norton, 1976)
13 Donald J. Trump, “speech at Ohio rally” (speech, Youngstown, Ohio, July 27, 2017), Time, accessed online on January 21, http://time.com/4874161/donald-trump-transcript-youngstown-ohio/
11. Trump, Donald J. “speech at Ohio rally”. Speech, Youngstown, Ohio, July 27, 2017. Time. Accessed online on January 21. http://time.com/4874161/donald-trump-transcript-youngstown-ohio/
10. Trump, Donald J. “third presidential debate”. Debate, Las Vegas, Nevada, October 19, 2016. Politico. Accessed January 21, 2018. https://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/full-transcript-third-2016-presidential-debate-230063
9. Trump, Donald J. “announcement on presidential candidacy”. Speech, New York, June 16, 2015. Time. Accessed January 21, 2018. http://time.com/3923128/donald-trump-announcement-speech/
8. Trump, Donald J. Bring Back the Death Penalty, Bring Back Our Police. New York, May 1, 1989. Accessed January 21, 2018. http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1838466.1403324800!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_970/trump21n-1-web.jpg?enlarged
7. Jennings, Francis. The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism and the Cant of Conquest. New York: Norton, 1976.
6. Nash, Gary B. Red, White, and Black: The Peoples of Early America. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1982.
5. Wood, Forest G. Black Scare: The Racist Response to Emancipation and Reconstruction. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press, 1970. Accessed January 21, 2018. https://books.google.nl/books?id=4FXXV9H0Y-oC&pg=PA53&hl=nl&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q=drugs&f=false
4. Holden-Smith, Barbara. “Lynching, Federalism, and the Intersection of Race and Gender in the Progressive Era,” Yale Journal of Law & Feminism 8, no. 1 (1995): 30-78. Accessed January 22, 2018. http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1111&context=yjlf
3. Cohen, William B. and James D. Le Sueur. The French Encounter with Africans: White Response to Blacks, 1530-1880. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2003. Accessed January 21, 2018. https://books.google.nl/books?id=Swn-9NVay98C&pg=PA20&lpg=PA20&dq=licentiousness+of+africa&source=bl&ots=BrZJXXMwNz&sig=tzsr-W_tnFRAJtBUO4q_7q6B3h8&hl=nl&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiUp-6o2ObYAhWCIlAKHXxBCVcQ6AEINTAC#v=onepage&q=licentiousness%20of%20africa&f=false
2. Fredrickson, George M. White Supremacy: A Comparative Study In American and South African History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.
1. Frederickson, George M. The Black Image in the White Mind. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1971.
When considering all of the evidence a couple of things stand out. First, the 1890s saw the resurfacing of a racial trope that has its origins in early colonial history, the black brute. The idea that black men had uncontrollable sexual desires was used by racial propagandists to justify the lynchings of blacks in the South of the United States. Second, Trump has on several occasions characterized blacks and Mexicans as violent rapists and criminals who specifically target white woman. He incited racial tension by calling for the execution of 5 black teenagers in the aftermath a rape in NYC in 1989. He called Mexicans rapists and he went into grave detail about Mexican gangs slicing up “beautiful” white girls. Although he doesn’t always use overtly racists language like the language that was used around the 1900s, it is clear that he is appealing to white racists who are afraid of non-white criminals. The fact that Trump doesn’t only characterize blacks as brutes, like white supremacists did around the 1900s, but extends this category to Mexicans, doesn’t change the fact that the essence of the argument is still the same, whites should be afraid of the criminal and sexual tendencies of non-whites specifically aimed at white woman. In order to protect against this danger, violence is justified. All of this leads to the conclusion that the rhetoric used by Trump can be connected to a tradition of racist rhetoric from the beginning of the Jim Crow era (1890s), which was most prevalent in the South, despite the fact that there are minor differences.
The third episode of Donald Trump characterizing non-whites as brutes was after he became President of The United States. During a speech in Youngstown, Ohio he spoke about the criminal gang MS-13. He said the following “The predators and criminal aliens who poison our communities with drugs and prey on innocent young people, these beautiful, beautiful, innocent young people will, will find no safe haven anywhere in our country. And you’ve seen the stories about some of these animals. They don’t want to use guns, because it’s too fast and it’s not painful enough. So they’ll take a young, beautiful girl, 16, 15, and others and they slice them and dice them with a knife because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die. And these are the animals that we’ve been protecting for so long.”13 Again, the same characterization is made here. Trump specifically talks about MS-13, which is a violent Mexican gang, targeting “beautiful” young girls. The young girl’s innocence is contrasted by the extreme violence of the Mexican “predators”. He doesn’t mention the girl’s colour, but he doesn’t have to. One has to only ask what crowd Trump is speaking to, to realize what he means by “beautiful girl”. It was clear from the beginning of his campaign that he was appealing to angry whites, and after he became president this continued. Look at any picture taken at the rally in Youngstown and it will quickly become clear that almost all attendees were white. Put all of this together and it is obvious that the “beautiful” girl he is talking about is white and the criminals who violated her are not.
The second episode of Trump’s portrayal of non- whites as sexual deviants was during his presidential campaign. In the speech he gave to announce his candidacy, he talked about Mexicans. His specific words were as follows: “They Mexico are sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”10 Later he referred to Mexicans as “Bad Hombres.”11 Trump continuously made these references throughout his campaign. The same implication is made here as in 1989. Non-whites are characterized as rapists. It is, of course, true that he was speaking about Mexicans instead of blacks this time. One might say that this changes the whole dynamic of the situation, but this would be inaccurate. The ideology of white supremacy was never accurate or consistent and fundamental ideas about other races could change according to the needs of white supremacists. For instance, in the early days of American colonization, some Europeans saw a possibility of trade with the native population of their colonies. This encouraged some of the early colonizers to portray the Indians as gentle and open to the idea of trade, instead of portraying them as savages. Others, who aimed to eliminate the Indians and steal their land, did portray Indians as savages.12 This example shows how racist ideology can easily be altered to fit the needs of the white supremacists. The same goes for the black brute stereotype, in the post-bellum South around the 1900s, blacks and mulattos were the only ones characterized as brutes. Trump also includes Mexicans but the underlying idea is the same, non-whites have a dangerous tendency to violate white women. Trump’s campaign rallies were mostly visited by white people, who also make up a large part of his political base. Whether Trump is talking about blacks, Mexicans or any other non-white group for that matter, the fact remains that he specifically appeals to whites by characterizing non-white males as a danger to white womanhood.
The advertisement Donald Trump published in several New York City newspapers in the wake of the violent rape of Trisha Meili in 1989 can be connected to this tradition of portraying blacks as brutes. Trisha Meili was a young white woman who was raped in Central Park in 1989. Five black suspects were quickly rounded up and confessed to the crime. Donald Trump spent large sums of money to publish advertisements that called for the execution of the suspects. The ad spoke of criminals who “beat and rape helpless woman.”9 The same dynamic is at play as around the 1900s. Trisha Meili was a white woman raped by black assailants (this turned out to be false later). The ad didn’t mention the attackers were black and that the victim was white. It doesn’t contain any overt racist language like the language used around the 1900s, but it’s no coincidence that this case drew so much attention. Around the same day Trisha Meili was raped, a black woman was brutally raped and thrown off a building, but Trump didn’t publish ads about that horrific attack. No, he specifically chose the incident where a white woman was raped by black teens and by doing so incited anger towards non-white males and stigmatized them as rapists. Even after the Central Park Five were exonerated, Trump refused to believe that they were innocent.
According to whites supremacists the cause of these animalistic practices was the destruction of the racial hierarchy that had been in place for centuries under the slave system. They argued that blacks had a dual nature. On the one hand they were childlike, which required paternalistic oversight by whites, but on the other hand, they were animalistic. When they were enslaved, blacks were docile, but after the system of slavery in the South was destroyed by the Civil War and Reconstruction, blacks were freed and their animalistic nature took over.7 This, according to racial propagandists, caused blacks to give in to their uncontrollable sexual urge to violate white women. All of this resulted in the notion that lynchings were necessary to counter the criminal sexual urges of black men.8
Although the notion of blacks being hypersexual had always existed under white supremacists, even before slavery, it emerged in a new way around the 1900s in the South of the United States to justify the practice of lynching.1 The idea that blacks had uncontrollable sexual urges was partly inspired by the view of Africa as a promiscuous place.2 Early European colonizers interpreted, among other things, the lack of clothing and polygamy of Africans as indicators of heightened sexuality.3 During the period after Reconstruction, the idea of blacks being hypersexual resurfaced in a particularly devious way. Southern racist demagogues promoted the idea that freed blacks were raping white women in large numbers to justify the practice of lynching. Newspapers often spread false stories about black men raping young white girls.4 This was necessary because the notion that blacks were intellectually inferior couldn’t justify the horrible practice of lynching, it could only justify their unfitness for self-government. In order to justify lynching blacks had to be portrayed as wild animals with unchecked sexual urges.5 Consider this description of the events preceding a lynching by George T. Winston “When a knock is heard at the door, the Southern woman shudders with nameless horror. The black brute is lurking in the dark, a monstrous beast, crazed with lust. His ferocity is almost demoniacal. A mad bull or a tiger could scarcely be more brutal. A whole community is frenzied with horror, with the blind and furious rage for vengeance.”6
After Obama became the first African American president, some people were under the naive impression that race was no longer an issue in the US. This notion was shattered by the election of Donald J. Trump, who made countless racially charged comments during his election campaign. This continued after he became president. I am particularly interested in a specific theme that keeps reappearing in Trump’s statements, which is the rape or assault of white women by black or brown (non-white) assailants. I will argue that the statements made by Trump can be connected to a long tradition of racial discourse in which non-whites are portrayed as brutes who target white women (the black brute stereotype). I will do this by briefly summarizing the history of the portrayal of non-whites as brutes. Then I will discuss three examples of Donald Trump perpetuating this stereotype. The first is an ad he published in 1989 in the wake of the rape of Trisha Meili in New York City. The second is the speech he gave when he commenced his presidential campaign in 2015. The third is a speech on immigration he gave in Youngstown, Ohio when he had been president for some time. By picking statements he made over a time span of almost 30 years, first, as a citizen, then, as a presidential candidate and finally as President of the United States it will become clear that Trump has had fostered this racist ideology for a long time.
Student number : 10595015
Name : Jules de Bont
Date : 24-1-2018
Course : American History beginning to end
Word count : 2029 (including citations, excluding bibliography)
Donald J. Trump’s rhetoric on race: Non-whites as brutes.