Michael Eric Dyson on why Trump presidency is rooted in racism

Georgetown Sociology Professor and author Michael Eric Dyson appeared on CNN’s “New Dayand laid it out for CNN host Alisyn Camerota: racism absolutely played a role in Donald Trump’s election.

According to Dyson, Barack Obama‘s presidency “provoked a kind of racial animus that we haven’t seen explicitly expressed in America for quite a while.”

Camerota didn’t seem convinced, saying Dyson thought Trump’s election win was “more race based than a lot of other people think.”

“Let’s be honest,” Dyson replied. “A lot of the response against Obama was for no other reason than he was a black man. If you don’t like Barack Obama as a black man, there are not too many other brothers you’re going to dig. Because he’s nice, he’s congenial, he’s affable, he agrees with people who disagree with him. That kind of man is extremely rare.”

“Just hold on a second,” Camerota said. “How did that allow Donald Trump to be elected? In other words, if you’re saying that there was some racism that went into Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton isn’t a black male either.”

“But did Hillary Clinton lead the birther movement?” Dyson argued. “The very guy that who questioned the legitimacy of Barack Obama as a black man is now the president of the United States of America. You’re answering your own question in that sense.”

“Do you think that’s why people voted for him?” Camerota asked. “Or do you think they overlooked that because they believed he was going to be helpful to business.”

“Your faith in the American citizenry is pretty high,” Dyson replied. “They overlooked what? The fact that Donald Trump for two years with lethal intensity continued to assault a sitting president as — quote — illegitimate and, now thin-skinned as he is, can’t even take John Lewis saying that you may be illegitimate.”

“I don’t think people overlooked that,” he added. “I think he ginned up the racial animus, I think he appealed to the worst instincts in our nature. Unlike Lincoln — the better angels of our nature — he appealed to the worst demons on our collective enterprise of thinking about American citizenship and democracy. And as a result of that, got elected.”