Pence, Brown Men, and the Racist Protection of White Women

Fearmongering has been a continuing message of this administration

Mona Eltahawy
Published in
6 min readJul 17, 2019


President Donald Trump speaks to the press as Vice President Mike Pence looks on in the Oval Office.
Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty

WWhen Vice President Mike Pence became the highest-ranking Trump official to visit a migrant concentration camp last week, most of the images showed him in a detention facility where Brown men were kept in cages. The men shouted to news cameras “No shower, no shower,” and told the press pool covering the visit — which was removed after just 90 seconds — that they had been there for 40 days or more, were hungry, and that they wanted to brush their teeth. Agents guarding the cages wore face masks, most likely to ward off the “overwhelming stench.” Pence called conditions at the camp “tough stuff” and blamed Democrats for the migrant crisis.

All I could think of were White women and the lengths sought after to protect them.

PPence, the White Evangelical Chrisitan deputy to a White supremacist president, understands the base that propelled the Trump-Pence ticket to the White House. It is a base that Donald Trump appealed to from the very beginning, declaring during his presidential announcement speech on June 16, 2015: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best… They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting… Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.”

Trump was tapping into a long and shameful history of White supremacist pathologization of the sexuality of men of color to terrify and control White women while also controlling men of color and subjecting them to violence. Dylann Roof, a White supremacist who shot dead nine Black worshippers in 2015, told FBI agents he “had to do it” because “Black people are killing White people every day on the streets, and they rape White women, 100 White women a day.”

When an undocumented immigrant was charged with the murder of University of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts in 2018, Trump and his Republican allies were quick to co-opt the crime.