When Donald Trump recently took time out from his busy presidential schedule of golfing, telling lies and lounging in bed at Mar-a-Lago next to a bucket of extra-crispy KFC under the picture of a shirtless Vladimir Putin scotch-taped to the wall as he listened to Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson audition for the American role of Joseph Goebbels, Trump decided to take an arbitrary and unnecessary shot at LeBron James and CNN’s Don Lemon.
While many applauded the president for showing an improved level of restraint in not diddling the “caps lock” key on his dumb phone, the derogatory tweet still caused a furious debate among political pundits about whether or not the insult was the latest example of Trump flexing his involuntary racism muscle.
Some insisted that the tweet wasn’t racist as much as it was petty, because the tiny-fingered Twitter troll never passes up the opportunity to take a swipe at anyone he deems an adversary. Others argued that the grammatically impaired Grand Dragon has repeatedly proven himself to be a racist, therefore everything he does is racist.
But instead of taking sides, I decided to examine the slight through the objective lens of mathematics. So I undertook an ambitious project: To catalog every single word Donald Trump has ever tweeted about black people.
To accomplish this goal, I sifted through 34,625 of Trump’s tweets using the Trump Twitter Archive, a project started by Brendan Brown that monitors, compiles and archives Donald Trump’s Twitter handle in real time. The site currently catalogs all of his tweets but does not have some tweets that were deleted before January 27, 2017, because, prior to that date, the site only collected his tweets a few times a day.
Using a list of keywords from The Root’s Donald Trump archives and media reports from the past five years, I compiled an exhaustive list of black people who Trump has tweeted about. The list may not be 100 percent inclusive, as some tweets contain Twitter handles and the names of people who are not public figures. It is also possible that I may have missed a few names that escaped my data profile.
I then examined each tweet and rated it “positive” or “negative,” depending on how it portrayed the subject of the tweet. To give Trump the benefit of the doubt, if the tweet was neutral, I rated it as positive.
Some tweets appear twice. For instance, if a tweet mentions both Barack Obama and African Americans, it was included under “Tweets About Obama” and “Blacks/African Americans”
Even though the list may not be 100 percent definitive, it is representative of Trump’s pattern of tweets as it relates to African Americans. You can download the data, along with the keywords and ratings for every single tweet I compiled, here.
I separated the data into three categories:
- Obama tweets: Tweets about Barack Obama
- Tweets about individuals: Tweets about individual black people including celebrities, government officials, athletes and people you may or may not have heard of
- Tweets about groups: These are tweets about blacks as a whole, NFL players and other races, ethnicities and nationalities
Here’s what I found:
I’ve always believed that Donald Trump had a secret crush on Barack Obama. Donald Trump’s twitter history reads like a Drake song and the data reflects that Trump was always in his feelings about the 44th president of the United States:
- He has tweeted about Barack Obama more times (2,672 times) than he has tweeted about Melania (232), Ivanka (291), Eric (161) or Donald Trump Jr. (109). Yes, if you add it up Trump has tweeted about Barack Obama more than he has tweeted about his entire family combined, which is kind of weird. But hey, I’m not here to judge.
- Of the 2,672 tweets about Barack Obama, only 3 were positive (one “happy anniversary” tweet; a tweet after Trump visited the White House; and one about meeting a war hero).
- He called Obama “dumb,” “weak,” or “stupid” 61 times.
- Thirty-one of his tweets about Barack Obama mention Kenya or Obama’s birth certificate.
- Ninety-nine percent of his tweets about Barack Obama are negative.
Of the 368 times he mentioned black individuals, 175 were negative. While that might be surprising, there are a few caveats:
- Ninety-two of his positive tweets were about black contestants on his NBC show, The Apprentice.
- Another 27 positive tweets were about Tiger Woods playing at his golf course.
- Aside from Barack Obama, he tweeted about Omarosa Manigault more than any other African American (41 times).
- Beyonce, Jay-Z, Oprah Winfrey and LeBron James all received positive tweets from Trump before he became president.
- Surrogates like Paris Dennard, Pastor Darrell Scott and Katrina Pierson all received positive tweets after he announced his bid for the presidency. And of course, this following dynamic duo was lauded by Trump:
- In 93 tweets about blacks, Africans or African Americans as a group, only 11 were positive, meaning his tweets about black people were 88.2 percent negative.
- In 55 mentions of Latinx or Hispanics, 21 were positive, meaning 61.8 percent were negative.
- All 53 tweets about Muslims were negative portrayals.
- Every one of the 66 tweets about immigrants was negative.
- Of the 57 times he tweeted the word “racist” or “racism,” he only used it to refer to white people 5 times.
- He only mentioned “white supremacists” once.
Overall, when we examined every Donald Trump tweet we could find that mentioned black people as individuals or as a race, it was negative 93.4 percent of the time.
None of this proves that Donald Trump is a racist. It just proves that his Twitter account has a problem with non-white people. Then again, if you read my Twitter account, one would think that I speak in non sequiturs and I am obsessed with Krispy Kreme donuts. A social media profile isn’t necessarily a reflection of the person behind it.
Also, I speak in non sequiturs and really like Krispy Kremes.
But is @realDonaldTrump as racist as the real Donald Trump? It is impossible to say. The data speaks for itself. All I can say is:
Why isn’t the color gray called “light black?”
Also, I could really use an original glazed right now.