The exchange was part of a larger discussion between the Nigerian novelist and R. Emmett Tyrrell, editor-in-chief of the conservative magazine American Spectator, on BBC Newsnight, which aired Friday.
BBC reporter Emily Maitlis pointed out that Republicans like Paul Ryan had previously acknowledged that Trump has been racist in the language he’s used.
“That’s not true,” Tyrrell said. “He hasn’t been racist.”
But Adichie quickly interrupted him, saying, “I am sorry, but if you are a white man, you don’t get to define what racism is. You really don’t.”
Tyrrell pushed back, but Adichie continued: “No, you don’t get to sit there and say that he hasn’t been racist when objectively, he has.”
The author said that “racism is an objective reality, and Donald Trump has inhabited that reality.”
Tyrrell claimed that Adichie’s argument, which he called false consciousness, was a Marxist concept.
“In other words, I can’t even open my mouth here because I’m a white male,” he said.
“No, of course you can,” she said. “I’m just saying to you that Donald Trump has shown us and has said recently things that are objectively racist.”
She used the example of Trump saying in June that a federal judge’s “Mexican heritage” would mean he couldn’t impartially preside over a case involving Trump.
“I looked at Judge Curiel, and he didn’t look any other color than my color,” Tyrrell said.
“But that’s not the point,” Adichie countered. “It’s about what your candidate said.”