Why The Trump Presidency Will Bring A New Era For Racial Equality

Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images.

Vijay Jojo Chokal-Ingam Author, "Almost Black"
Font Size:

In my op-ed for the Independent Journal Review before the election, I predicted Trump’s victory and commended the Republican nominee as “very courageous in his opposition to racism.” No doubt, Trump’s positions on border security, judiciary, and trade resonated with the clear majority of Americans. However, in my opinion, as an Indian American, he won because Americans believed Donald Trump when he told CNN’s Don Lemon, “I am the least racist person that you’ve ever encountered.” The American people understood Trump’s colorful and controversial language did not diminish his commitment to the cause of meritocracy and racial equality in our country.

In his landmark “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. Martin Luther King envisioned a society in which people are not “judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Yet, in the over 53 years since the apex of the civil rights movement, we seem to have thrown that ideal out the window. In our zeal to create racial equality for African Americans and Hispanics, we’ve forgotten white people deserve fair treatment as well.

Somehow, America has become a place where it is perfectly legal to discriminate against white people. In university admissions, public housing, and employment, widespread racial discrimination toward whites (and Asians) is legally tolerated under the auspices of affirmative action. For instance, the National Football League has its Rooney Rule granting interview opportunities to minority coaches that are not granted to whites. Another example is medical school admissions; it is consistently easier (by as much as 57%) for blacks and Hispanics to gain admission to medical school than comparable Asians and whites with the same grades and test scores, according to published statistical data from the American Association of Medical Colleges.

The discrimination is so pervasive that I had to apply to medical schools as an African American to gain admission, an experience I wrote about in my book Almost Black. I discovered many American universities openly discriminated against white and Asian applicants by compromising their academic standards and state residency requirements to recruit minorities. For instance, the University of Wisconsin-Madison invited me to apply as an out of state minority, despite their strict state residency requirements. I also benefited from Case Western’s racially segregated admissions process that favored minority applicants. Despite my low 3.1 GPA, I got waitlisted at the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University, then the country’s third and fourth best medical schools, thanks to their adherence to affirmative action policies.

It is no coincidence that Donald Trump achieved resounding victories in states where local educational institutions practice racially discriminatory admissions policies. From my personal experience, I can assure you that white people in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Missouri have every right to be angry that their hard-earned tax money goes into state-sponsored racism against Caucasians. After the election, students at Case Western, Washington University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison vehemently protested against Donald Trump. Ironically, those students fail to acknowledge their schools’ racist affirmative action policies alienated white voters, contributing to Trump’s victory.

Unfortunately, Trump’s defense of equal rights for white people is often misconstrued as racism against African Americans and Hispanics. At a Harvard post-election forum, Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri blatantly accused the Trump campaign of “providing a platform for white supremacists.” What Palmieri and other “civil rights activists” fail to recognize is their own hypocrisy – Why should white people be denied equal opportunity? Why are the rights of white people inferior to those of minorities? Perhaps, our country has become so politically correct that advocating rights for white people automatically equates to white supremacy. Even President Obama conceded that people who oppose affirmative action should not automatically be categorized as “being racists” in a recent Exit Interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep. Had Trump run a campaign based on “white supremacy,” he would not have performed as well as his Republican predecessors, Romney and McCain, among minority voters. Who would have thought a “white supremacist” could win almost a third of Hispanic votes?

President-elect Trump has already made strides towards winding down affirmative action and ending legalized racism. He has offered the position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to Dr. Ben Carson, one of the most outspoken African American critics of affirmative action. As the head of HUD, Carson could gut affirmative action in public housing (“affirmatively furthering fair housing”). Trump’s Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions has also combatted racism on multiple fronts, acknowledging bias in policing, persecuting violent racist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, opposing housing discrimination, and openly criticizing affirmative action. Most importantly, Trump has pledged to appoint a conservative-leaning Supreme Court that will have the power to overturn the narrowly decided Fisher case, permitting racial preferences. That’s why I am fond of saying “Donald Trump will end affirmative action, like Lincoln ended slavery.”

History often repeats itself. In 1963, Alabama Governor George Wallace made his famous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door,” blocking black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from attending the University of Alabama. In many ways, Hillary Clinton and President Obama did the same thing in 2016 by supporting blocking a qualified white girl, Abby Fisher, from being admitted into the University of Texas at Austin. Hoping to win more black and Hispanic votes, Clinton and Obama publicly endorsed the Supreme Court’s Fisher case, denying educational opportunities to thousands of qualified Asian Americans and whites. To the credit of American voters, Clinton and Obama’s divisive racial opportunism backfired spectacularly.

After unsuccessfully running for President four times, Governor Wallace later recanted his racist views and publicly asked for forgiveness. After two unsuccessful presidential bids, perhaps one day, Hillary Clinton and her allies will acknowledge that their support of racism toward white Americans led to their crushing defeat.

Vijay Jojo Chokal-Ingam is the author of Almost Black: The True Story of How I Got into Medical School by Pretending to Be Black. He holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Chicago and an MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management. Chokal-Ingam’s works have appeared in New York Post, Independent Journal Review, Observer, among others.