Trump also claimed that Obama didn’t write his first book, telling Sean Hannity in 2011: “I heard he had terrible marks, and he ends up in Harvard. He wrote a book that was better than Ernest Hemingway, but the second book was written by an average person. He shouldn’t have written the second book.”
Trump insisted that Bill Ayers, who happens to be white, had to be the author of the first book.
And it didn’t stop there. In 2012, Trump offered to donate $5 million to the charity of Obama’s choosing if Obama would release his college and passport records.
These episodes struck such a nerve because it isn’t only presidents or Supreme Court picks who have to present proof of their credentials. Too many people, Black and of other races, have had to do the same at some point in their lives. It is humiliating and degrading.
It has happened to me several times, and I will share one.
Before I was a columnist, I was an information graphics journalist, a profession that deals with data, sometimes reams of it, to produce maps, charts, diagrams and the like.
The Times was then, and remains, a leader in the field. And as its graphics director, I was in charge of its efforts.
But that field was an overwhelmingly white world. So, for some, my presence was incongruous.
One year I was in Pamplona, Spain, judging the international information graphics awards. The student helpers invited some of the judges out to a bar after dinner. The bar was a cavernous space with an overwhelming amount of flashing and spinning lights.
The students introduced me to some of the locals with my title and the kind of work that I did. No one believed them. I could speak almost no Spanish, but the locals’ noes were as clear as their shaking heads. The students confirmed that the locals didn’t believe I could possibly be who they said I was.
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