POLITICS
12/15/2016 11:41 am ET Updated Dec 15, 2016

Ta-Nehisi Coates Perfectly Explains How Racism Helped Donald Trump Win

"Donald Trump had to be rich and white. That was it," he said.
Ta-Nehisi Coates discusses President Barack Obama's and President-elect Donald Trump's respective qualifications for the pres
Comedy Central
Ta-Nehisi Coates discusses President Barack Obama's and President-elect Donald Trump's respective qualifications for the presidency on "The Daily Show" with Trevor Noah.

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates stopped by “The Daily Show” on Tuesday to discuss his recent cover story for The Atlantic, which examines President Barack Obama’s unique challenges and legacy as president.

During the segment, Coates got real about Obama’s and President-elect Donald Trump’s two very different roads to the White House. 

Coates said Obama “definitely” had to work twice as hard as Trump to become president, comparing his laundry list of achievements to Trump’s limited experience:

If I have to jump six feet to get the same thing that you have to jump two feet for ― that’s how racism works.

To be president, [Obama] had to be scholarly, intelligent, president of the Harvard Law Review, the product of some of our greatest educational institutions, capable of talking to two different worlds ... Donald Trump had to be rich and white. That was it. That’s the difference.

Coates also addressed the “very, very unique circumstances” that allowed Obama to become the nation’s first African-American president:

...He was able to address white Americans in a way that I just think very few African-Americans could.

I think Barack Obama was born into a home not just to a white woman and white grandparents, but a white woman and white grandparents who shockingly told him it was okay that he was black and that he should not be ashamed of it and that he should in fact be proud of it.

These factors, Coates said, also limited Obama’s ability to fully understand the trauma of racism. He cited his own childhood experience for comparison:

When I grew up in West Baltimore, anything associated ― and I’m talking about my childhood ― with white people 99 percent of the time was something malevolent, like it was an explanatory force for something bad.

...That’s just not the sort of experience that [Obama] had.

Watch “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah’s full interview with Coates below.

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