Yesterday, we noted that Donald Trump’s anti-Latino and anti-immigrant campaign was bleeding into civil society at large to dangerous effect, helping to foster a climate that demonizes and dehumanizes 55 million Latinos because of the way they look or speak. We also documented an array of recent anti-Latino and anti-immigrant attacks and confrontations. Unfortunately, we have two new entries to add to the previous list of examples.
A new op-ed published in The Guardian by Los Angeles-based journalist Tina Vasquez, titled “I’ve Experienced a New Level of Racism Since Donald Trump Went After Latinos,” documents her recent experiences with complete strangers having a newfound preoccupation with her immigration status. We excerpt Vasquez’s reflections below:
“Donald Trump’s hate speech against Latinos seems to be emboldening white Americans’ racism.
…A couple of weeks ago, while I was running errands in my neighborhood, a stranger asked me if I was ‘illegal’. Around 10 minutes earlier another stranger asked me if I spoke English. Both were white and one of them even called me ‘senorita.’ Then, late last week, I was standing in line to use the ATM when a white man approached me cautiously, asking if I spoke English. He was lost and said he didn’t want to be in a ‘bad area’ longer than he needed to. He was holding a King Taco cup in his hand. I’ve seen white guys like him at the neighborhood taco spot. Stay for the tacos, leave before you have to interact with Mexicans who aren’t serving you.
This is the world Trump wants when he says he’s going to ‘make America great again.’ It’s the America of 1950s TV shows, where people of color don’t exist in the lives of white Americans unless they’re being served or entertained by them. This appears to be a world longed for by many, as a recent poll found that 47% of white Americans look upon Trump ‘favorably.’
I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 29 of my 30 years. As a light-skinned, biracial Latina in one of the most diverse and Mexican-centric cities in the nation, I have never been asked the type of questions I’m now fielding from white people. I’m not the only one experiencing an uptick in seemingly out-of-the-blue racist exchanges. Latina journalist Aura Bogado recently tweeted about a strange interaction at a grocery store. My father recently told me a white neighbor he’s been friendly with since moving into the neighborhood 15 years ago, casually inquired about his citizenship status. As the days go on, I hear more of these kinds of stories from Latino friends and family members.
…When media fails to call Trump’s ‘rants’ what they truly are – hate speech – we move toward normalizing his racism and xenophobia, which emboldens others to behave similarly. As long as Trump has a platform and a microphone, people of color will be put in harm’s way. That can take the form of the type of racist interactions I’m experiencing – or violence.”
In addition, the prominent Dreamer network United We Dream went to the U.S. Capitol yesterday – where Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz were holding a rally – to peacefully protest against Trump’s recent hateful rhetoric by wearing t-shirts stating “I’m fighting for my parents.” As UWD documented, some of the pro-Trump attendees at the Capitol reacted by spitting on them, shouting derogatory slurs, and even pulling the hair of one of the Dreamer attendees.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “We are getting a glimpse of what a Trumpian era would look like. Intolerance is on the rise and hateful rhetoric is encouraging it. This climate has been fostered by Trump’s racist remarks about Mexicans, his Willie Horton-style video that falsely and cruelly stereotypes Latino immigrants as dangerous, and his statement that his followers are “passionate” when asked to comment on a hate crime committed by Boston brothers against a Hispanic man in his name. But sadly, some in the GOP field are playing ‘follow the leader’ while others are too timid to effectively denounce his naked appeals to white nationalism. It’s time for people from across the nation to stand up and be counted. It’s time for all those who stand in solidarity with immigrants to register to vote, so that our demand for respect is heard on Election Day; it’s time for all immigrants who are eligible to become citizens to fill out the paperwork and naturalize; it’s time for the Republican Party leaders and the RNC to denounce Trump’s racist rhetoric, to distance themselves from his radical proposals, and to stand up for nation’s core values of liberty and justice for all; it’s time for more Democrats to be a match for the moment and stand up to defend a community that is under attack and core American values that are under siege; and it’s time for the media covering Donald Trump to treat his anti-immigrant worldview not as ‘telling like it is,’ but as dangerous demagoguery.”