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Trump revs up racist denialism in campaign call to ‘guard the vote’

The former president is sowing conspiracy theories about cities with large Black populations and trying to incite fury, just like in 2020.


At a weekend rally in Iowa, Donald Trump effectively encouraged his supporters to be wary of voters in cities with large Black populations, naming Atlanta, Detroit and Philadelphia as prime areas to watch in November.

“The most important part of what’s coming up is to guard the vote,” the former president said Saturday. “And you should go into Detroit, and you should go into Philadelphia, you should go into some of these places, Atlanta, and you should go into some of these places, and we gotta watch those votes when they come in.”

The remarks are reminiscent of when Trump recently told New Hampshire rallygoers not to worry about voting — and to prioritize poll watching instead.

The remarks also echo Trump’s conspiratorial claims after his election loss in 2020, when Black activists and civil rights leaders sounded alarm bells that his allegations about certain cities amounted to racial bigotry.

This seemed obvious from the jump, to be honest. As he homed in on Georgia’s election results, for example, Trump and his followers targeted Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss with racist conspiracy theories. Both of the Black election workers testified to the House Jan. 6 committee about what they had to endure after Trump targeted them with lies.

And yet, I agree here with Sherrilyn Ifill, who noted in a post on X that the racism underlying Trump’s election denialism has always seemed like an afterthought for some. 

“Exactly what he said in 2020,” the former president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund wrote about Trump’s comments in Iowa.

“Not sure why the racial dimension of Trump’s attack on the Constitution has been underplayed, but it was central to the effort,” Ifill added. “It’s not mysterious. And he’s doing it again.”

I think the racist fundamentals of Trump’s election claims have been wildly understated.

The phrase “election denialism” — often used to refer to Trump’s post-2020 actions — doesn’t seem to fully describe these actions. Trump didn’t just deny that the election results were valid; that almost sounds passive. He also accused people in largely Black areas of rigging the results — while portraying two Black women as the face of voter fraud.

And Trump’s GOP has waged an assault on the Voting Rights Act, which shored up Black voting rights. And failing to center racism in the story of election denialism is malpractice: As I see it, anyone who fails to note that Trump’s false claims were rooted in bogus allegations of election fraud in cities with large Black populations is only telling a portion of the story. 

And the full story must be told, particularly as Trump and his campaign attempt to play up his support with Black voters in dubious ways. He and his backers are performing solidarity with Black figures while actively sowing fury toward Black people. 

Remember this the next time you hear anyone touting Trump’s relationship with the so-called Black community.