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When Trump's hate tweets make news, here’s what to do

1. Don’t retweet him.

Trump’s tweets are often so outrageous that the media covers them as stories, and many people are upset, correctly noting that the president’s posts perpetuate bigotry and could feed violence and hatred against immigrants, Muslims, and people of color. 

The problem is that by reposting the president’s tweets, the media and social media only amplify these dangerous messages, bringing the images into millions of people’s feeds. Retweeting or Facebook-sharing a harmful post only highlights it, making it more likely to stick in people’s minds, which can seriously hurt vulnerable communities. 

Don’t retweet or reply-tweet harmful content.

2. Tell the truth instead. If you have to mention the tweet, identify its purpose.

Trump’s tweets are dangerous, but so are his administration’s racist policies, including the Muslim ban, family separation, and other policies that target immigrants and people of color in the United States and abroad. If you want to weigh in when the president's tweets are breaking news, be sure to focus on the people who are affected by these policies as well as by the president’s endorsement of racist memes. 

3. Uplift the voices we should listen to instead.

Part of challenging racism and misinformation is building empathy and connections between members of our communities. Unfortunately, the media tends to present stories in one-dimensional and stereotypical ways, such as reducing Muslims to either extremists or victims or framing immigrants as either “good” or “bad.” That’s one reason why Trump’s tweets are so dangerous: They build on existing stereotypes of targeted groups and the lack of complex representations in the media.

Follow artists, writers, activists, and thinkers of color online, share their work, and center the  voices of people directly impacted by the issues you comment on. To get started, check out United We Dream, UndocuBlack, ConMijenteMuslim Justice League, MPower Change, Young Muslim Collective, and the Arab American Action Network

4. Address racist comments in your own networks.

While the president's tweets always garner a lot of attention, he's not alone in perpetuating racist images and ideas. When someone in your network posts something racist, xenophobic, or Islamophobic, here are some ideas for how to respond: 

  • Instead of arguing, ask questions. Try to move the person to consider their entrenched ideas by listening.
  • Take the conversation offline – it might be time to ask your friend or family member to coffee to talk face to face.
  • Post a fresh comment instead of replying to a negative one. Getting into a back and forth argument with a stranger might not be worth your time. But you can make sure a negative comment doesn’t stand unchallenged.
  • Finally if someone is posting hate speech, it might be time to block them. 

About the Author

Carly Goodman is a historian and served as the Communications Analyst and Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow at AFSC.