Why I am going to need you to stop calling Donald Trump orange

By Ali Muldrow

For a long time now the jokes and consistent conversation about Donald Trump’s skin color being orange have annoyed me severely. At first I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. I wasn’t sure if it was just that in general commenting on people’s physical appearance feels like bullying to me, or that frequent comparison between Donald Trump and cheese flavored chips seemed like a cheap disappointing distraction that allowed folks to avoid having real conversation about the consequences of poor policy decisions. 

What I have come to slowly wrap my head around is that for me at least referring to Donald Trump as orange is about race. Donald Trump is White. If we must discuss his skin color we must be willing to discuss whiteness.

We called Barack Obama our first black president over and over and over again his entire family was racialized daily. Yet some how calling Donald Trump our most recent white president or our 44th white president, or just plain incompetent has too much truth to it to take. 

He gets further from white because white no matter who or what it hurts, white is good and pure, and he is moved across the color spectrum closer to me.

In many black communities people who are my complexion are referred to as high yellow or light skinned as a way to acknowledge the range of blackness and also to reconcile things like a history of widespread slave rape and colorism. I feel this same way when referring to our current political climate a dark time in a American history, my inner autocorrect screams no it isn’t we are being robbed by the wealthy in broad daylight and blaming the shade of our own shadows.

Changing the color of Donald Trump’s skin in order to use it against him is really about maintaining your right to use my skin against me. It’s about going the extra mile to recklessly confirm that bad people are somehow people of color even when they aren’t. In altering Donald Trump’s skin and then bringing it up as part of what is wrong with him, we are normalizing that a person’s skin color can be a part of our problem with them as long as we don’t call them white.

Ali Muldrow is co-director of GSAFE, and candidate for Madison Public School District’s School Board Seat 4.

Ali Muldrow