Two photos. Taken in the same place. Depicting the same thing. But with a world of difference.
Such was the case after a Twitter post comparing two photos of Presidential interns under Barack Obama and Donald Trump went viral. Why? Because of the lack of racial and ethnic diversity among Trump's interns as compared to the Presidential interns chosen under Obama.
The images were shared on Twitter by podcaster and Democrat supporter Fernand R. Amandi, who captioned the post, "A tale of two Presidential intern pics".
And though the images were taken in the same frame and composition (the President standing in the middle of the interns who are seated or standing in neat rows), the subjects were distinctly different.
Obama's image was taken in 2016 where the President can be seen posing with his last batch of cohorts. While Obama's interns represented a more than a neutral mix of races and ethnicities including people of colour, Asians, even a Sikh man of Indian origin, Trump's intern photo depicted a more blanched group with just a handful of people of colour or other ethnicities visible.
The image comes in the wake of severe criticism of President Trump's handling of "Black Lives Matter" protesters in the United States following the murder of a black man, George Floyd, by a white cop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The incident led to a watershed moment in the United States as hundreds of citizens took to the street and demanded an end to racial injustice and systemic racism in police and other security forces.
Trump retaliated by threatening to use the National Guard on protesters whom he called "thugs" and was widely criticised for making racially loaded statements like "when the looting starts, the shooting starts". He was also slammed for putting up a fence around the White House to keep Washington DC protesters out and for forcibly removing protesters using tear guns so that he could walk to the nearby church for a photo-op. The POTUS was also accused of running away and hiding in his bunker as protesters first reached the White House in DC, earning him the moniker of "Bunker Boy" on social media.
Not the first time
This is not the first time that Trump's photo with Presidential interns went viral with accusations of racial disparity. A photo of his 2017 summer batch went viral for being "very white and very male" as reported by Vox in 2018. One of the interns in the 2017 Fall photos was accused of making a white power symbol as well in the image, though the claim was widely denied by the White House.
The 2018 spring batch's photo (the one depicted above) did better in terms of increasing female interns. But racial diversity remained missing with just a handful of minorities making it.
As per the report, the White House may even have tried to quash the Summer 2018 intern photo due to the possibly the same reasons.
If the interns are a cue, Trump's cabinet is also known to be one of the whitest and most male cabinet in the United States since Ronald Raegan. As opposed to the four women and four persons of colours (POC) in Trump's 24-member cabinet, Barack Obama's 22-member cabinet consisted of seven women and ten POC.