Across the country, people are turning out to protest the death of yet another black person at the hands of police, after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In the early hours of May 29, Trump took to Twitter to apparently threaten protesters, but one person who wasn't having it — was singer Taylor Swift. She responded with a tweet of her own, calling Trump out by name — and Taylor Swift's tweet about Donald Trump and white supremacy does not mince words.
On May 25, Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed during an incident with police in Minneapolis. Caught on video, one officer was seen kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes, as three other officers stood by. All four officers were later identified and fired by the Minneapolis Police Department. Following Floyd's death, activists organized protests in Minneapolis to demand that the officers involved be charged — protests which escalated throughout the week, as businesses were looted and fires broke out across the city.
In a May 29 tweet, Trump attributed the protests to a "total lack of leadership" in the city. "These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen," Trump added in a follow-up tweet, which said the military was on the way. "Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts," Trump added, which many perceived as a violent threat against protesters. The tweet was later flagged by Twitter for violating its rules against glorifying violence.
Hours later, Swift condemned Trump's threat and called him out for a history of white supremacy. "After stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism your entire presidency, you have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence?," Swift tweeted. "‘When the looting starts the shooting starts’??? We will vote you out in November. @realdonaldtrump." Elite Daily has reached out to both Swift and the White House for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
Swift's May 29 statement is one of the strongest she's made thus far about politics. For years, Swift faced criticism as a high-profile white celebrity who largely remained publicly neutral on political and social issues. In 2012, the singer told TIME that she didn't "talk about politics because it might influence other people." It wasn't until 2018 that Swift broke her political silence; ahead of that year's midterm elections, Swift posted a critique of Republican Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn to her Instagram. "I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love," Swift wrote at the time.
Before her 2018 post, however, Swift's political silence led some white supremacists to dub her a "pure Aryan goddess," NPR reported, and they had latched onto the belief that she secretly held far-right political views despite a lack of proof. In her 2020 Netflix documentary Miss Americana, Swift finally revealed why she had been "secretive" about politics for so long. "Part of the fabric of being a country artist is don’t force your politics on people,” she said in the documentary. “Let people live their lives. That is grilled into us.” Swift added that she had constantly been compared to the Dixie Chicks, who faced significant backlash after criticizing former U.S. President George W. Bush, and she felt the pressure to be a "nice girl" who didn't "force [her] opinions on people."
Since 2018, Swift has been more vocal about her political views because she has reportedly felt a responsibility to use her influence against "disgusting rhetoric," per The Guardian. But while her statement condemning Trump is explicit and important, social media users have pointed out that a white celebrity using their platform in this way should not be celebrated as the be-all, end-all of activism and political engagement:
Nevertheless, it's important for celebrities like Swift to use their platforms to raise awareness, and her post can encourage her fans to do the same.