Even Jury Selection Can’t Escape Trump’s Racism

Jabin Botsford / Getty
Jabin Botsford / Getty

Donald Trump’s defense team reportedly believes that young Black men will help save the former president from a guilty verdict.

Lawyers for the former president, who has the dubious distinction of being the first ex-commander in chief to be criminally tried, have been “hoping to spot sympathizers and will focus on younger Black men and white working-class men” as jurors, according to a recent New York Times report.

The notion that young Black men might be more easily persuaded than other jurors—less prone to critical thinking and seeing through the defense’s smoke and mirrors—jibes perfectly with all the racist notions Trump has expressed over the years. Even in the midst of his own criminal trial, Trump’s anti-Black racism remains on full display.

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We’ve seen this kind of racism from Trump and those who work for him before.

It’s especially apparent in the way Trump has recently campaigned for Black votes, using a strategy that seems to rely on the idea that Black folks are easily impressed simpletons won over not by substantive policy stances but by shiny objects such as sneakers.


When Trump started selling gold hi-tops just a couple of months ago, right-wing idiots such as Fox News’ Raymond Arroyo suggested the shoes would change historic Black voting habits “because they love sneakers!”

The same goes for Trump’s other stereotype-driven appeals to Black voters—from his pathetic photo-op last week with Black employees at an Atlanta Chick-fil-A to his expressed belief that having a mugshot makes him a relatable figure for Black folks.

“A lot of people said that’s why the Black people liked me—because they had been hurt so badly and discriminated against. And they actually viewed me as, I’m being discriminated against,” Trump told an audience of African-American Republicans at the Black Conservative Federation in February. “When I did the mug shot in Atlanta, that mug shot is number one. You know who embraced it more than anyone else? The Black population.”

Before wrapping things up, Trump declared, “I’m being indicted for you, the Black population.”

Maybe this is the kind of racist indignity that’s gladly accepted by Black Republicans, but their masochism should not be read as a racially-inborn trait shared by Black Americans writ large.

In the midst of a trial that is less about hush money payments, and more about federal election interference, it’s important to recall how Trump specifically targeted Black folks in his more recent crusade to install himself permanently in the White House.

Trump’s Hush Money Trial Is Peak Manhattan

It is not incidental that he has repeatedly called into question the validity of votes cast in Detroit, Atlanta, and Philadelphia—all cities with sizable Black populations. Nor is it a coincidence that Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, a Black mother and daughter who served as poll workers in Georgia during the 2020 presidential election, were targeted by Stop the Steal conspiracists and endlessly threatened, harassed, and intimidated.

Trump’s suggestion that Black political participation is corrupt plays on ideas of who can be an authentic American citizen, entitled to participate in a political process that decides elections and the delegation of power. The unspoken but obvious subtext is that Black folks have no business in those roles.

Similarly racist sentiments were on Trump’s lips Friday morning, as he headed to Manhattan’s Supreme Court for the fourth day of his criminal trial. True to form, he whined to reporters in a speech thick with racist overtones.

"As you know, I’ve been saying for a long time this is a rigged trial,” Trump groused to the assembled media. “It’s coming from the White House. They have White House DOJ people in the trial, in the D.A.’s office, representing the D.A. because he is probably not smart enough to represent himself,” Trump said.

District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Harvard Law graduate and the first Black person ever elected to serve as Manhattan’s D.A., is—in Trump’s book—not smart enough to have that kind of power. Trump has previously called Bragg a “thug,” an “animal,” “lazy,” and a “racist.”

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He’s used similarly denigrating terms against district attorneys Fani Willis and Letitia James, as well as Judge Tanya Chutkan. (In today’s little speech, Trump actually said Bragg’s stupidity was "very much like Letitia James.”)

I can only imagine that one of the most difficult parts of Trump’s experience during jury selection has been having to hear Black New Yorkers—amidst so many others—express their true feelings about him. He’s already fuming that Black D.A.s and a judge are allowed to have any power over his life. Being forced to listen to what he surely views as Black “poors” stating their opinions of him must’ve added insult to injury.

Hopefully, the experience disavowed him and his counsel of a few ideas about who might serve as a helpful mark.

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