Most of you would never consider yourselves to be racist. I know a lot of you even claim to be seemingly color blind when it comes to the pigment of one’s skin; we all know that one person who doesn’t see color, all they seem to perceive is a single human race. Still, I’m sure you all hate the idea of racism and openly condemn the practice.
However, I am skeptical about how much progress has been made in achieving racial equality when up until last year a Confederate battle flag remained erect on the grounds of the South Carolina State House; when the rate of wealth inequality has increased amongst minorities; when the majority of Americans rated police departments across the country poorly for not treating races equally; and when people of color continue to be disproportionately incarcerated, policed, and sentenced to death at significantly higher rates than their white counterparts. Wake up, we live in a racist society.
Racism can be overt or covert. Overt racism is consistent with our general teachings of intentional and open discrimination toward people of color, such as publically segregated restrooms or other legal forms of disenfranchisement. Covert racism, on the other hand, is a form of racial discrimination that is disguised and subtle, rather than public or obvious. It is often concealed within the fabric of our society, and although our laws no longer openly condone racial discrimination, it remains embedded in our social interactions. This kind of hidden racism discriminates against individuals through unnoticeable or passive methods such as stereotypes and negative prejudices that people may not even realize that they have. We have all heard a version of this expressed through jokes, comments, memes. While intended to be funny it perpetuates negative stereotypes about people of color in away that disguises itself as popular culture. It’s not about being too sensitive or not being able to take a joke, it’s simply being aware.
While many may feel uncomfortable reading this after having President Obama serve as the first African-American president for 8 years, I can assure you that we have not yet achieved a post-racial society. For instance, after Obama’s reelection in 2012, Rush Limbaugh a popular extreme conservative radio talk show host, argued that the Republican Party didn’t need better minority outreach to win elections, they only needed higher “white voter” turnout, promoting a marginalization of minorities and their importance in the political system. Newt Gingrich (former speaker and presidential candidate) said that President Barack Obama was the ‘most effective food stamp president in American History’ even though figures show more were added under former WHITE president George W. Bush. Perhaps he felt inclined to feed into the old stereotype that people of color prefer food stamps to paychecks to fuel his supporters.
This mindset of exalting white supremacy hasn’t gone away. You all know the regressive rhetoric used during this election cycle. Donald Trump has used various vulgar expressions to refer to women and spoke of Mexico sending rapists and other criminals across the border- calling for the rounding up and deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants; which only intensified with fights toward prominent Latino journalists and other news outlets. Trump has mocked Asian accents; demonized Obama as being a Muslim and claiming that Muslims are a “problem” in America; supported the idea of forcing Muslims to register in a database; falsely claimed thousands of Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks in New Jersey; falsely claiming that killings of whites in America are done by blacks; approved of the roughing up of a black demonstrator at one of his events; and publicly mocked the movements of New York Times journalist Serge Kovaleski, who has a chronic condition limiting mobility. He’s being covered by the media but not condemned.
It was disgusting hearing him speak after winning the Republican Nevada caucuses, in which he bragged about winning “the Hispanics” in his victory speech:
“And you know what I’m really happy about? No. 1 with Hispanics,” Trump said. “I’m really happy about that.”
But he really isn’t! According to the Nevada entrance polls, roughly 15% of the voters taking part in the GOP caucuses were non-white and only 8% identified as Latin@s. When put into perspective, this is a very small portion of non-white individuals deciding who the GOP frontrunner ought to be. Nevertheless, among the small number of latin@ Republicans who participated in the caucuses, 45% voted for him, compared to Cuban-American Senators Marco Rubio (27%) and Ted Cruz (18%).
In reality many latin@s and other people of color view him very unfavorably. This is strongly fueled in part by his stance on immigration issues but mostly because of his demeanor. He doesn’t reflect the values of our communities. He doesn’t reflect our struggle, our pursuit for a better life for our families and children. He reflects an outdated and unintelligent generation that fears change. Trump reflects a xenophobic people that feel uncomfortable around brown skin, which fear for their customs and own race becoming inferior. Trump reflects the last breathe of a White America striving to remain the norm, striving to hold on to power. A person like trump will never have the true Latin@ vote (and I’m not talking about the few that have forgotten what it means to be of color that have supported him). The only things he can do is mobilize and fuel our spirit to continue fighting against these form of oppression. As long as his presence persists in politics, I strongly believe we will continue to fight against a broken system that benefits them more than us until we get officials that look like us, that truly represent us in more ways than just words.
Jeffrey Dominguez studies political science. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.