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Donald Trump’s Silence on Bigotry

November 14, 2016, 5:04 PM UTC

It was something, but not enough.

In his first television interview since his surprise win, President-elect Donald Trump gave a few glimpses of how a person with no government experience might actually run the government.

Trump sat down with Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” in an interview taped last Friday and talked about the Mexican border wall. “It could be – it could be some fencing,” he said. “But certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. I’m very good at this, it’s called construction.” He reaffirmed his plan to “get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million,” out of the country or into prison. Obamacare? Repealed and replaced, with no gap in coverage. “And it will be great health care for much less money,” he said.

But when asked about the dramatic uptick in racial violence since his election, he had only this to say: “I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it– if it helps.”

It’s not helping.

In the six days since Trump won the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has documented more than 200 reports of hate crimes, roughly the amount they see in a six-month period. The incidents are primarily anti-black, followed by anti-immigrant, and many involve direct threats of violence. Many, but not all, reference the Trump campaign. Sadly, a shocking number of incidents occurred at K-12 schools. “The white supremacists out there are celebrating his victory and many are feeling their oats,” said SPLC CEO Richard Cohen. Click through for a partial list.

But there isn’t a list of the people who are becoming more, not less, afraid for their safety and economic well-being as the days tick down to the inauguration. If my inbox and social feeds are any indication, that list is growing by the day.

On that front, no help seems to be forthcoming. With the installation of Steve Bannon, the former president of the controversial Breitbart News as his chief strategist and senior counsel, Trump is sending a clear message that he will continue to associate himself with white nationalism and the alt-right. “It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the alt-right – a loose knit group of white nationalists and anti-Semites and racists – is slated to be a senior staff member in ‘the people’s house,’” said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in a statement.

Like him or not, Trump is one of the great communicators of the modern age. For all his bluster and intemperance, when he talks or tweets, people pay attention. His silence on the issue of unleashed bigotry speaks volumes. On this matter, true leadership lies elsewhere.


Programming note: We’re ripping up our edit calendar this week to bring you more topical information on how to better tackle race at work – including issues of communication, navigating allyship and new thoughts on designing inclusive cultures. As always, let us know how you’re doing.

On Point

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How a black playwright understood the Trump voter better than anyone
Who are the Trump voters, really? While pollster and political reporters are scrambling to put together what they missed, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage has some surprising insights from her new play Sweat, about the decline of manufacturing town, Reading, Pa.It's based on three years of interviews. “White, middle and working class folks [I met] were feeling incredibly disaffected—really, really angry. They felt the rug had pulled out from under them, and they no longer had access to the American dream,” Nottage told Fortune’s Pam Kruger.

University of Oklahoma student suspended after harassing black freshmen at UPenn
It was an astonishingly ugly incident that played out online: a large number of black freshmen at UPenn were targeted in a GroupMe messaging group with racist messages, slurs, and added to a “daily lynching” calendar. Although the student has been suspended, University of Oklahoma president indicated that the investigation is continuing.
Washington Post

How to deal with everyday bigotry
The Southern Poverty Law Center gathered hundreds of real-world examples of bigotry in the workplace, in public and between family members, with simple suggestions as to how to defuse them, if it’s safe to do so. They offer some two dozen possible scenarios, including responding to bigoted jokes at work, managing bigoted family members, biased customer service and more.  It’s the best guide of its kind I’ve found.

Why don’t big brands design clothes for people with disabilities?
Fashion school students are stepping into the breach, thinking up creative ways to help disabled veterans and people with other mobility or cognitive needs have an easier time get dressed independently and still look snappy. It’s a real marketplace, and one that anyone can join at any time: One in five Americans, some 53.3 million people, have some sort of disability says the CDC.
The Guardian

A former Congressional staffer explains how to get your representative to pay attention to your cause
Tweeting and Facebook messages don’t work, she says. And e-mail is less effective than you think. What works? Writing a real letter to the Congressional office in your state, and then follow-up with a phone call and talk to a staff member. Patterns of calls on issues are noted – but if you really want to talk to your Congressperson, show up at a local town hall with a group of people and ask good questions. Yes, that does sound like a lot of work.

Over 60 Ugandan schools backed by Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have been shuttered by a Ugandan court
The chain of low-cost private schools called Bridge International Academies were not properly licensed, claims the Ugandan High Court, citing also a lack of sanitary conditions and unqualified teachers. Parents and administrators are protesting the decision. Bridge, which calls itself the world’s largest education innovation company, runs some 63 nursery and primary schools in Uganda which are attended by more than 12,000 students and employee over 800 people.
Quartz Africa

The Woke Leader

Can reading make you more open?
Novelist Ceridwen Dovey shares the outcome of her sessions with a “bibliotherapist,” who generated a reading list of essays and novels to help her personal development after she completed a series of e-mail conversations about her reading habits and her current worries. The results were transformative, she says. Since we know that people who read novels are better able to empathize with others, the idea of reading for therapeutic effect has extraordinary implications in a world where we are more separated from each other than we know.
New Yorker

What we wish Donald Trump knew about race
A new radio series from WNYC, Dear President, Here’s What You Need To Know About Race in America, launches today. The short audio essays are deeply personal reflections on race from a variety of public figures, commentators and writers, and range in topic from black masculinity to mass incarceration. Samaria Rice, the mother of twelve-year-old Tamir Rice who was killed in 2014, kicks off the series. “I didn’t get woken up until my son got killed,” she said. “I’m not going to be quiet for nobody. America robbed me of my son’s life.”

Finding inspiration and insights in the funny pages  
(H)afrocentric is a funny and often poignant comic created by educator Juliana “Jewels” Smith, who discovered while trying to teach a class on the prison industrial complex that unusual teaching aids – like comics – can help get student attention. This series, which she works on with two collaborators,  follows four undergrads trying to navigate life at fictional Ronald Reagan University.
The Establishment


I grew up in the ghetto. I did not have a positive opinion of police officers. Policemen were siccing police dogs and water hoses on people. And I really had a hard time putting myself in that role. So I was not excited about being Officer Clemmons at all."
—Francois Clemmons