President Trump’s racial rhetoric signaled to his supporters that they too could use racist or racially insensitive language and get away with it, said Darryl Howard. “A lot of people took Trump’s [racially insensitive rhetoric] and internalized it,” he said. “He made it OK for them to say it too.”
“His popularity and press coverage only grew,” George Martin added.
Daniel and Jordan Allott met with Howard and Martin in Macomb County, Mich., to talk politics, specifically Trump and race, in a Detroit suburb that went for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 before swinging to Donald Trump in 2016. Both men are black: Martin voted for Trump and Howard seriously considered doing so, before “reluctantly” casting his vote for Hillary Clinton.
Howard said Trump began his campaign with a brash piece of bigotry when he labeled Mexican immigrants “rapists” who are “bringing crime.”
And he believes Trump “most definitely” played on people’s racial fears to get elected president. He said he recalls seeing clips of people holding “Make America White Again” signs at Trump rallies during the presidential campaign. “Nobody said, ‘Hey, take that sign down. Our slogan is “Make America Great Again.”’”
Polls show more people believe Trump supports white nationalism than believe he opposes it. That said, very few of his supporters regard him as a racist. That number includes Martin, who believes Trump played on people’s fears but is not a racist. Howard thinks Trump is insensitive—about race and a host of other things.
“It’s fair to say he’s insensitive about a lot of things, and race is one of them,” Howard said. “But you know, he’s a 70-year-old man that you know lived through a time when black people weren’t equal to him.”
“Donald Trump just gives off this air of arrogance,” Martin added.
This video was originally featured as a part of the Washington Examiner’s series The Race To 2020: The people and places that will define a presidency. You can watch more videos here.