Latino resistance under Trump

Trump's presidency will be tough for minorities, but there is hope if we start organising.

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    Protesters chant next to Donald Trump pinatas as they encourage Latinos to register to vote in Norwalk, California [EPA]
    Protesters chant next to Donald Trump pinatas as they encourage Latinos to register to vote in Norwalk, California [EPA]

    On November 8, the world changed for millions of Latinos living in the United States. Donald Trump rode the wave of xenophobia, racism and discontent that landed him in the most powerful position on earth: President of the United States of America.

    While we are still grappling with the consequences of Trump's victory, one thing is sure: The outlook has probably never looked worse for Latinos living in the US.

    The next four years will certainly be tough, and therefore it only makes sense for Latinos and other minorities to stand together and resist any attempts of the Trump presidency to abuse and marginalise them further. 

    From latent to open racism

    I came to the US three years ago to do a postgraduate degree and then decided to stay and work. Like many people, to me the US represented a welcoming land for new ideas, perspectives, and people coming from all over the world.

    Many of my American friends repeatedly talked about a pivotal part of the American foundational myth: that this is a melting pot country that welcomes everyone.

    Many of them recognised the strength and uniqueness of this country in its capacity to accept immigrants from every corner of the world.

    But the melting-pot fantasies are all gone now. Trump's election has exposed and encouraged racism in the US.

    It was not unusual before to see someone angry because people would speak in Spanish in a grocery store or because a woman wearing the hijab would pass by in the street.

    But in Trump's successful nomination and now his electoral victory, many saw a validation of their latent racism and an encouragement to be open about it.

    In the weeks leading to the election, I heard from friends that a number of Mexican consulates in the US received anonymous letters with hateful speech, comparing Latinos to cockroaches, using swastika drawings and phrases such as "make America white again".

    Ever since the election results were announced, videos and testimonies have surfaced on Facebook and Twitter with people sharing their encounters with racism after Trump's victory. The reports range from verbal to physical abuse. Latinos in different parts of the country have been told to go back to where they come from.

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    It is not surprising that Latinos are being targeted. Trump made it clear from the very start of his campaign that Mexico sends "rapists" to the US. Trump built his path to the White House on a platform that targeted Latinos as the culprits of a myriad problems facing America, including crime and unemployment.

    It might be true that Trump's victory can be explained by a host of economic factors. Those who voted for him feel excluded from the post-war liberal system that has opened borders and increased the flow of people across them.

    Presumably, the white working class, which has been seen as the base of his electorate, was hit the hardest by the trade agreements Trump has been so eager to denounce. However, it would be an understatement to attribute Trump's victory solely to economic factors. Anyone who has watched a Trump rally video can see a dark excitement his followers feel from his pointed hate speech.

    Organising and resisting

    Although these are times that might seem grim for many people living in the US, this is not time for grief. Latinos across the US should organise to prepare for the Trump presidency.

    First, the Latino community should make use of the fact that after this election the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is the largest it has ever been. Latinos need to create lobby groups to work alongside the Latino Caucus and advocate for important policy measures that could act as a lever against Trump's proposals.

    We need to reach out to political leaders in places that have traditionally welcomed immigrants and ask them to clearly reassure their communities that they will work to protect diversity.

    Second, Latino groups across the country need to get ready to protect community members from the mass deportation Trump has promised.

    Thousands of students across different universities have already signed petitions to create sanctuary campuses for undocumented students. Latino students and community members should stand behind these initiatives.

    Third, Latinos as individuals need to be more proactive within their communities and back Latino organisations, many of which are in need of both financial and in-kind support.

    There should also be a strong effort to connect with other minority communities and organisations and coordinate with them joint actions against the increasingly racist environment across the US as well as any anti-minority legislative changes that the Trump administration might propose.

    Fourth, Latinos should defy the culture of silence and openly challenge racism and injustice. We cannot remain silent as the Trump years unfold in Washington and we should not be afraid to take to the streets when needed.

    The US is not the country of racism and white supremacy; it is a place that thrives on diversity. Immigrants and minorities strengthen the fabric of American society.

     

    But there also actions we can take in our everyday lives that can make a difference. The easiest way to voice our dissent is to boycott companies whose leadership has been sympathetic to Trump.

    We also need to be more proactive on media to denounce everyday racism. Social media is a good way to raise awareness among other Americans on how the lives of Latinos across the country will change under the Trump presidency.

    While Latinos should take serious steps to counter the anti-Latino narrative that the Trump campaign and now his presidency is promoting, we should remember that the image of America that emerged from this election cycle is false.

    The US is not the country of racism and white supremacy; it is a place that thrives on diversity. Immigrants and minorities strengthen the fabric of American society.

    The next four years will certainly be an uphill battle, but we must never lose hope. In the words of Martin Luther King: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

    Miguel Guevara was born and raised in Cuernavaca, Mexico. He holds a Master's degree in public policy from Harvard University's John F Kennedy School of Government. He currently lives and works in California, where he collaborates with Latino community organisations.

    The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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