Chimamanda Adichie to Trump supporters: “If you’re a white man, you don’t get to define what racism is”

A voice for our time.
A voice for our time.
Image: AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
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The Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie delivered a scathing indictment of Donald Trump’s campaign yesterday, questioning whether the president-elect’s behavior would change after his election.

Speaking with the BBC’s Newsnight on Nov. 11, Adichie appeared alongside the conservative editor of the American Spectator magazine, Robert Emmett Tyrrell. The two clashed over how Trump will govern as president, and what the endorsement of the right wing extremist group Ku Klux Klan meant for his presidency.

“I think what we should do is look at Trump for who Trump has told us and shown us that he is,” Adichie said. “So let’s look at what he has said on the campaign trail. The only way we can judge the kind of president he will be is based on the campaign that he ran.”

Tyrrell dismissed the endorsement of the KKK, saying, “I can’t imagine anybody more marginal to American election than the KKK.”  Tyrrell also refused to acknowledge that Trump was racist, dismissing House speaker Paul Ryan’s description of Trump’s remarks as “textbook racism.”

Adichie responded: “If you’re a white man, you don’t get to define what racism is. … You don’t get to sit there and say that he hasn’t been racist, when objectively he has. And it’s not about your opinion. There are objective things, racism is an objective reality, and Donald Trump has inhabited that reality.”

The interview was Adichie’s latest foray into the 2016 US elections. In June, the renowned feminist published a short story called The Arrangements, in which she took readers into the intimate lives of the Trump family through the eyes of the future first lady, Melania Trump. Adichie was also one of four writers who penned thank-you notes in the New York Times to first lady Michelle Obama.