Trump’s “shithole” comment is plain old racism

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin

The president’s choice of words with regards to immigration contradict the age-old American Dream

On Jan. 11, President Donald Trump was reported to have referred to Haiti, El Salvador and parts of Africa as “shithole countries” during a White House meeting about immigration reform, according to The Guardian. His response came as a reaction to the idea of allowing immigrants from those countries into the United States, according to the same source.

The Internet was quick to erupt with outrage following the horrific statement. Many people, including notable journalists such as Don Lemon and The Daily Show host Trevor Noah are labeling Trump as racist. The comments came as Haiti was preparing to commemorate the hundreds of thousands of lives lost during the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck eight years ago, according to CNN. According to Time magazine, individuals from Haiti have been under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) since the devastating earthquake struck the island back in January 2010. CNN reported that Trump appears to have ignored the fundamental humanitarian purpose of TPS, which allows people to live and work in the United States if their countries are affected by natural disasters, war or any type of political conflict that would prevent citizens from safely returning to their homeland.

Following Trump’s comment, an opinions piece in the Washington Post argued that American news media “has long treated black and brown countries like ‘shitholes.’” The news media in the United States has systematically reported on Haiti and African nations as poverty stricken and disease ridden—and that’s when those countries are even considered worthy of coverage in the first place, according to the same article.

However, I believe the news media did an exceptional job of calling Trump out on his racist comment. Essentially, what the president is asserting is that he doesn’t want to welcome anyone from those countries no matter how qualified they may be, all because of where they come from. A fundamental value of the United States is the American Dream—the idea that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, you can still make it there. You don’t have to be rich to be worthy nor do you need a college degree.

Part of what’s important to keep in mind is that, not only was Trump’s comment exceedingly racist, but it’s also inaccurate. According to Vox, 30 per cent of people born in the United States have college degrees whereas 43 per cent of African immigrants have college degrees. Additionally, 10 per cent of white Americans have advanced degrees compared to the 25 per cent of Nigerian Americans who do. These facts completely refute Trump’s ignorant opinion about people from Africa. In my opinion, the fact that Trump seems to believe an entire country should not be welcome in the United States is the textbook definition of racism. You can’t dismiss entire countries whose populations are not white—let alone refer to them as “shitholes”—and not expect to be called a racist.

I believe there have been numerous examples of Trump demonstrating he is indeed racist, despite many people only now starting to realize it. It’s especially appalling that words such as “shithole” are being used to describe entire countries and continents by those in the White House. For years, African immigrants as well as Haitians and Salvadorans have been coming to the United States and bringing up the learning and entrepreneurship rate—thus helping make America a greater nation, according to The New York Times.

Politically speaking, it would also make no sense to exclude parts of the world seeking entry into the United States given that an influx of immigrants will only help better the economy in the long run. In my opinion, Trump’s racist comment is yet another piece of evidence that the United States is being led by a man who applies policies that will “make America white again.”

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin 

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