It used to feel worthwhile to list off the terrible things that Donald Trump has done since assuming office in the beginning of 2017 — particularly the examples of his blatant racism. The Advocate did as much in a story at the beginning of 2018 pushing back on when he asked why the United States would want people from “shithole countries.” The story, which appeared on the cover, was titled, “People from ‘Shithole Countries’ Make Important Contributions to Western Mass.”

But 18 months later, Trump has said so many blatantly racist things and taken so many actions blatantly motivated by racism that it almost feels redundant to spell them out. Keeping up with them has been a chore. Trump fatigue has set in.

And then he goes and attacks the Squad — the quartet of progressive female minority congresswomen including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — by telling them they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” He made the vile statement fully in public on Twitter, and for me it is impossible not to hear “we don’t want any black or brown people in our country” and a call for other ignorant assholes to back him up.

It’s the worst kind of bullying. For people who look like me — a white, cisgender male — it’s not always obvious, but it happens all of the time. And many people of color have the misfortune to experience this specific, ugly, racist taunt and implicit threat at an early age.

One of my first assignments after being hired in 2014 as a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette was to speak to a group of students of color at Hadley’s Hopkins Academy who were taking on racism at the 7th through 12th grade school. One of them, a black eighth-grade student named Mik Gnobo, said he had been told in the halls of the school to “go back to Africa” and “go pick the cotton fields.” He described with maturity how he dealt with these unprovoked comments, about how he kept his emotions in check and tried to ignore them. “It hurts, but at the same time, you have to keep control,” he said. What he hoped for with the group they started was not only to stop the bullies, but inform the vast majority of the mostly-white school that this was a problem.

More recently, Gloria Graves Holmes, a black woman moderating an interstate discussion on race through the Bridge 4 Unity project, shared a memory with me of having the exact same slur — “go back to Africa” — hurled at her. The first time she heard it, she was about 10, and close to her home in Harlem. Much later, established in life, she heard an echo of that same message. She said: “I was a full-time teacher, a masters-level student, a mother, and wife, building a dream home with my family, and the night we moved into our newly-built home, I hear, ‘Nigger go home.’”

Over the course of our extensive interview, those moments stood out. It was clear the memories of them are still with her after all these years — still painful despite a lifetime of accomplishment and respect she had worked for.

Now, the hateful man occupying our White House lobs the same familiar, hateful message at four black and brown congresswomen who have similarly earned the esteem of their peers, elevated to elected office. His warped perspective sees these four, three of whom were born in the United States, and the fourth who has lived in the U.S. since childhood, as perpetual outsiders. It is the same distorted worldview that has pushed forward a migrant family separation policy and kept asylum seekers in detention centers so squalid that multiple people have died in them.

This should be more than we as a nation can stand. And yet, the vast majority of Republicans remain silent on this outrage, tacitly backing the leader of their party — though Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Texas Rep. Will Hurd, and a handful of others are exceptions. The man is a bully, pure and simple. Despite how fatiguing it is to live under his presidency, we have to remind ourselves that it is his hateful views that do not belong in our country. Our neighbors and fellow citizens (and those who deserve a path to citizenship) must be welcome.

Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at