‘Why Don’t White Athletes Understand What’s Wrong With Trump?’

Jemele Hill, formerly of ESPN and now of The Atlantic, asks Why Don’t White Athletes Understand What’s Wrong With Trump? (“The Red Sox players who visit the White House owe their black and brown teammates an explanation”):

So far, the conversation about the upcoming Boston Red Sox visit to Donald Trump’s White House has centered around the people of color who are skipping the event. The manager Alex Cora, a critic of the Trump administration’s inexcusable treatment of Puerto Rico amid the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017, cited his home island’s continuing troubles as his reason for opting out.


Black and Hispanic players and coaches are expected to justify their reasons for not going to Trump’s White House. But the real question is: Why have so many of the white players on the Red Sox chosen not to support their black and brown teammates?

Hill’s covering sports, but her question applies beyond a single profession or activity: there is a wide gap in racial attitudes toward Trump. Yet even stating the matter so plainly omits the reason for that gap.  Hill reminds what should be just as plain:

Context matters. And the truth is that Trump’s hateful rhetoric and policies aren’t so easily forgotten. Forcing people—including championship athletes—to disregard how hurtful his actions can be is disrespectful to those he has hurt.

Alex Cora can’t laugh and shake hands with the president knowing that 3,000 people in Puerto Rico—a U.S. territory—perished as a result of Hurricane Maria. And it’s not just that the government’s response to the devastation was inadequate. Trump also lied about the island’s death toll, and in a tweet the president called Puerto Rico’s leaders “grossly incompetent” and said they only want to “take from USA,” which implied that Puerto Rico wasn’t part of his country. In the same vein, a senior administration official told The Washington Post that Trump “doesn’t want another single dollar going to the island.” That’s not policy, that’s pettiness—and it shows contempt and condescension toward the people of Puerto Rico.

Trump frequently styles himself as though a white man’s president, and in so doing is unworthy of being anyone’s president.

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