I invite you to spend seven minutes listening to Baratunde Thurston explaining what, exactly, is wrong with the fact that Barack Obama was hounded into releasing his long form birth certificate. He does a wonderful job of historicizing the requirement that Obama prove that he is an American (to a man such as Donald Trump), at the same time that he explains why this questioning of Obama’s citizenship is deeply hurtful to all Black Americans and their allies.
Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
It’s been a very difficult morning for me. Got the news that President Obama released his long-form birth certificate due to the increasing media circus surrounding claims that he is not one of us. That he is not an American. And it comes at a very interesting time for many reasons, one of which is, it’s April 27 2011 and this just happened. So that’s really interesting to me. Also because I’m reading, right now, a book by Manning Marable called Malcolm X a life of reinvention and he unearths a lot of amazing detail and correspondence around this exceptional American. But through this book you also get a window into the civil rights movement throughout this country’s history – especially the 40s 50s and 60s and you are reminded if you read this book or see a documentary special or know anything about the complete history of the United States, you’re reminded of the extraordinary level of sacrifice that has been involved in allowing all Americans to exist as, be treated as, participate as Americans. To be that which they are took a lot of work. A lot of tears, a lot of pain, a lot of death.
There were people who dropped out of their ordinary lives, sacrificed their personal safety, their reputation, their ability to earn money, to intervene on behalf of those who they also saw as American. They got on buses and Freedom Rides. They sat in, they died in waves and waves of domestic terrorism so that someone like me could go to a voting booth and not be asked by some racist poll worker to pay a tax or prove that my grandfather wasn’t a slave or pass a literacy test that got increasingly difficult the more I passed it. And today, the President of the United States had to prove that he was an American, to the satisfaction of the 75 percent of Iowa republicans who doubt that or the 43 percent of National Republicans who believe that or the one heinous low-class individual who took credit for it after: Donald Trump.
A man who was given every advantage – who inherited millions and lost it all twice but had that opportunity because no one’s ever had to ask him to prove anything. A man who lacks intelligence, compassion, common sense, respect, decency, or an understanding of WHAT THE FUCK it means to be an American that he would come out moments after the President of the United States – and I stress that: the President – released his long-form birth certificate – and Donald Trump comes out moments later and says, “I’m really proud of myself – but it shouldn’t have taken so long. I wanna see the birth certificate for myself. I want to test it for authenticity. I don’t want the press asking me about birth certificates anymore.”
I find it hard to summarize in mere words the amount of pain and rage this incident has caused. It’s humiliating – not just to Barack Obama, not just to the office of the President, not just to Black Americans who died and those who supported our quest for freedom. It’s embarrassing to the entire nation that we would sit and let this nation. We have all been debased by this incident. By a charlatan, by a con man, by a mere promoter of himself. And for him to take credit for this, and for him to revel in it, and yet not be satisfied makes him no better than a Klansman. No better than a Bull Connor. No better than an anonymous, privileged white man in the 1950s who, regardless of his position in society, knew his position was higher than that of a common nigger. And that is what the fuck Donald Trump has done to the President of the United States. To the office of the President of the United States. To me. And to you.
I am disgusted. I have cried, because I know my own ancestors paid a very high price, and never would have imagined that we might have the President that we do, but certainly, part of their joy in the ancestral, celestial skies right now has been greatly diminished by what has happened here today. I hope that eventually, not just in the post-mortal world of karma and spiritual justice, Mr. Trump pays an exceptional price. I hope that price comes during his life. To then be able to walk around, a super-free, super-white, super-privileged man lording over all who would pay attention – which is far too many – at what you have done has got to cost you something in this life, as well.
I don’t wanna hear about The Apprentice. I don’t wanna hear about your new cologne. I don’t wanna hear about the new tower you’re building in whatever fuckin’ town. That cologne smells of racism. That tower is built on the blood of disrespected slaves and freedom fighters, and that show is merely a showcase for the dishonor you have brought among anyone who would call themselves an American.
My name is Baratunde Thurston. I’m heartbroken over this.