How Do You Feel About the President Showing His Papers? [Reader Forum]

A powerful video by writer Baratunde Thurston sums up the racially coded horror-show of Donald Trump's birth certificate crusade.

By Channing Kennedy Apr 30, 2011

A lot of hearts got broken this week when President Obama took extralegal action to publicly release his long-form birth certificate, in an effort to put to rest the racially-coded conspiracy theory that he was born in Kenya. (It didn’t shut anyone up, of course, least of all new head birther Donald Trump.)

And one of those broken hearts belongs to the eloquent and multi-talented Baratunde Thurston, co-founder of Jack & Jill Politics and web editor of The Onion. Baratunde took a break from being funny to record this moving seven-minute emotional dissertation on the meaning of birtherism for all black Americans, that questions the value of a beloning that can always be called into question. As he writes on his original posting:

[…] I began to cry. I thought of my ancestors, both direct and collective, who had fought and died so that I might be treated as an American. I then thought of this fetid, smug, hate-filled, wealthy white man taking credit for the release and yet still not being satisfied. It does not matter how long we’ve been in these United States. We will never be American.

So, tears in my eyes, pain in my heart and rage in my soul, I composed this video message. More than written text, it comes close to expressing my full pain at witnessing a white man who was handed everything call the President of the United States (and me) a nigger.

Baratunde’s a popular guy who knows from social networking, so it didn’t take long for the video to blow up, as of last count, it was rolling toward 200,000 views in two days. (Do your brain a favor and don’t read the comments.) We posted the video on the Colorlines Tumblr pretty early and watched it take off, shooting past 1,000 notes; for people who aren’t nerds, that means ‘it has been very popular.’ One Tumblrer, Numol, even contributed her time to make a full transcription! Thanks, Tumblrer Numol!

What follows are some of the personal notes that Tumblr users have put on their reblogs. And if you’re looking for more on the significance of Trump, we really dug the insights of Melissa Harris-Perry and Adam Serwer.

Here’s violet-stars:

Up until now I’ve looked at Trump as a sideshow, a "carnival barker" and whatnot. But what he did was some hateful shit. Hateful if it’s born from a personally held belief and hateful if it’s done as a media grab. I don’t know which one is worse.


I think "Klansman Trump" is a good handle for him. Or "White Citizens’ Councillor Trump" (who touted themselves as the high class white nationalists in opposition to the KKK.)

Here’s hotshot Feministe blogger Jill Filipovic:

Baratunde is really the greatest.


In many ways my life has as a black person born in america has been a struggle for community. i have traveled physically and intellectually through Afrocentric, Black Nationalist, Pan-African Models never finding home and only bits and pieces of my heritage and the vast innumerable debt owed to me by my oppressors. W.E.B Dubois in i believe in his book The Souls of Black Folks, about us being a problem people. For not only our oppressors who cannot get rid of or subsume us but also for ourselves because in times like this the pain can be too much.


this makes my heart break. I will never let my mother watch this.


Thank you for making this about race. Really.


that’s what the fuck is up.


It really is all about race. Simple as that. You may hide behind all the other names you may be using. Socialist. Hitler. Birther. At your core, you really just wanna call him a nigger. Shame on you sir.


Amazing parallels being drawn here. Well done.

One of our favorite tweeters, Jamil Smith:

I was truly moved by Baratunde’s reflection here. This is not a laughing matter.


I don’t remember the subject, but I do remember whatever it was my ex said, "Most Americans would agree with me." and I said, "I don’t think so. I doubt many black Americans would agree." He said, "No I mean real Americans." So yeah, white Americans are the only ones who count. I knew that I wasn’t a ‘real American’ according to him either. It’s one of the reasons I am so happy to see the increase in POC Americans with every census. One day I will count as a real American amongst the majority of my fellow citizens.

and finally, airandangels:

Now, I’m not an American, so I’m not intimately involved, but I say YEAH.

This reminds me of how angry I felt about Paul Henry making out that our former governor general, Sir Anand Satyanand, didn’t ‘look like a New Zealander.’ Fuck you, Paul Henry, Anand Satyanand was born in New Zealand, and so were a lot of people who don’t look like New Zealanders to YOU.

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