The Truth about America’s Racist Presidents

Fighting back against a hateful message

By Legrand H. Clegg II | 8/14/2019, 8:30 a.m.
Many if not most American presidents appear to have had racist proclivities.

From the beginning the American presidency has been stained by racial prejudice, often a reflection of broader sentiment among white citizens. Such views have persisted well into modern times," so wrote Sarah Mervosh and Niraj Chokshi in the New York Times on Aug. 1. What triggered the article was a newly released audio recording which revealed that, in 1971, then Gov. Ronald Reagan of California called African people monkeys in a telephone conversation with President Richard Nixon.

To laughter from Nixon, Reagan also stated that Africans are still uncomfortable wearing shoes. Revelation of this audio recording comes on the heels of President Donald Trump demanding that four Democratic Congresswomen of color go back to their home countries, echoing sentiments that racist whites have often hurled at African-Americans. Furthermore, just over a week ago the president attacked a predominantly black Baltimore-based congressional district as a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess", where "no human being would want to live." In the past, the president has also questioned the intelligence of prominent African Americans.

Many if not most American presidents appear to have had racist proclivities. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Theodore Roosevelt dismissed "Negroes" as a "perfectly stupid race"; while Woodrow Wilson was a staunch segregationist and Dwight D. Eisenhower expressed prejudiced sentiments and told racist jokes. Even civil rights advocate Lyndon B. Johnson espoused racist views and used slurs to describe black people.

While I have addressed white allegations of black inferiority and incompetence before, it appears that during this dangerous time when our current president appears determined to promote blatant white supremacy, repetition is most certainly in order to briefly set the record straight.

By and large we as African Americans have long chosen to ignore white claims of our inferiority, and striven as a group to prove ourselves equal to all other people. But this noble approach has not resulted in a cessation of white supremacist propaganda emanating from either the white masses or the White House. At this juncture, then, we must address these insults head-on whenever and wherever they appear; lest we lose another generation of black youths to the forces of racism that have instilled in too many of them a sense of hopelessness and inferiority.

First, we should insist that black people do not resemble apes. Apes have thin lips, straight hair, hairy bodies and flat behinds. When shaven, apes have pink skin. black people generally have thick lips, wooly, curly or wavy hair, smooth bodies and protruding behinds. Our skin color ranges from black to brown, red and yellow -- not pink.

Second, when African Americans experience educational parity with whites, black performance on standardized I.Q. tests such as SAT, ACT, GRE, etc. is virtually equivalent to their white counterparts. Furthermore, since scientists have determined that black people are the genetically dominant parents of the human family, and whites insist that one drop of black blood determines that one is black, how, then, does genetic dominance equate to genetic inferiority?