Ta-Nehisi Coates Succinctly and Perfectly Nails How Racism Helped Elect Donald Trump

Best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates joined Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show” Wednesday to discuss Coates' cover story published this week in The Atlantic magazine: "My President Was Black: A history of the first African American White House and of what came next." 


The story details the unique challenges overcome by President Barack Obama and how they shaped his presidency and his legacy. 

"This article is really powerful," Noah told Coates, reading the title. "My President was black. What does that title mean?"

"It goes back the the inauguration," Coates said, adding that he wanted an "elegiac end" to the piece, which he worked with President Obama on. 

"I was actually surprised that he spent that much time with me, especially because I had been critical of him, specifically how he dealt with African Americans," Coates admitted.  

Coates isn't buying many of the claims surrounding the Obama-turned-Trump voters and holds fast to the role racism played in electing Trump. 

"If I have to jump six feet to get the same thing that you have to jump two feet for ― that’s how racism works. To be president, [Illinois Sen. Obama] had to be scholarly, intelligent, president of the Harvard Law Review, the product of some of our greatest educational institutions, capable of talking to two different worlds," Coates explained. "Donald Trump had to be rich and white. That was it. That’s the difference."

Coates also explained how Obama's ability to strategically address white Americans propelled his win, and how his childhood might have helped that.

"Barack Obama was born into a home not just to a white woman and white grandparents, but a white woman and white grandparents who shockingly told him it was okay that he was black and that he should not be ashamed of it and that he should in fact be proud of it," Coates said. 

This was drastically different from the writer's own childhood. 

"When I grew up in West Baltimore, anything associated ― and I’m talking about my childhood ― with white people 99 percent of the time was something malevolent, like it was an explanatory force for something bad," Coates noted. "That’s just not the sort of experience that [Obama] had."

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