This essay examines how President Trump’s vacillations between overt and colorblind racism represent the intensification of white racial anxieties in anticipation of an impending demographic shift toward a nonwhite majority. Trump’s contradictory rhetoric on race becomes legible in the context of white ambivalence, a condition that entails that white identity, history, and culture be respected as morally superior but, at the same time, not be characterized as white supremacy. Examining a selection of Trump’s campaign and postelection rallies, I show how white ambivalence constitutes a perverse mixture of overweening and explicit valorizations of people of color and, simultaneously, a forceful disavowal of racial conversations that might otherwise implicate white identity in the legacy of white supremacy.

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