Rick Najera: What Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ Really Means

Aug 28, 2015
11:30 AM
The New York Yankees in 1926, before they let blacks and Latinos play (Public Domain)

The New York Yankees in 1926, before they let blacks and Latinos play (Public Domain)

The presidential elections have steamed onto our American landscape like the iron trains did the old west: great for the white man, bad for the Indians. And this train is great for Trump and bad for Latinosor any American who believes in a multicultural and diverse America.

Trump has an immigration plan that would be better called a deportation plan, and that plan is playing well with the hardliners. It has helped Trump surge in the polls. He is attacking well-held constitutional principles such as the 14th Amendment, which he believes should be rescinded. He is unapologetic about his hate speech. Recently when his supporters beat a Latino with a steel pipe and urinated on his unconscious body, Trump merely shrugged it off; instead of condemning the act of violence, he was quoted as saying, “My supporters are passionate.”

Given all of this, it’s clear his slogan of “Make America Great Again” is really a cover for “Make America White Again.”

Later Trump tweeted that he was against violence. That’s the abuser’s wayfirst the iron glove, then the soft one. He is playing a dangerous game and hoping to ride a wave of hate into the White House.

Trump’s immigration (or deportation) policy for some 11 million people living and working in America will destroy the economy and destroy livesLatino lives. But those lives don’t matter to Trump. There is a struggle with racism occurring at the very heart and soul of this nation.

The Trump hate train is roaring down the track. The train has left the station, fueled by nativism, ready to be filled with more than 11 million undocumented immigrants, mostly Mexican—whom ironically enough may be deported from a land that once belonged to their ancestors.

Trump wants to build a wall of pure fantasy, much like the wall in Game of Thrones to keep out the white walkers. But Trump’s wall would be built to keep out his worst nightmare —“brown walkers”— even though about 40 percent of undocumented immigrants come by plane and overstay their visas. This huge wall will keep them from returning to America after we sort out the bad ones; then we will let them come back in, he promises (as if he has given anyone a reason to believe him considering his past flip-flops).

The 300-mile-long, 700-feet-tall wall from Game of Thrones (ArticXiongmao)

The 300-mile-long, 700-foot-tall Wall from Game of Thrones (ArticXiongmao)

The hypocrisy is ripe: Trump wants less government, less taxes and less immigrants, and to do that he is willing to create more government, which would ultimately require more taxes. And in the end, who will pay for the three times more border enforcement, border security and government that forcibly removes up to 11 million people, including American children who are U.S. citizens?

The media is responsible for Trump. He is a reality show come to life, and the reason he is leading in the Republican polls is the lack of positive Latino images and role models on television and film.

Trump is leading a “Make America White Again” campaign because his followers look to bring back the Leave It to Beaver era when America was whiter —mostly on TV. That’s where his uniformed mob gets its lessons in American history.

The 1950s show 'Leave It to Beaver' was colorless in more ways than one (Public)

The show ‘Leave It to Beaver’ was colorless in more ways than one (Public Domain)

The media lens is out of focus and wrong. According to a USC Annenberg study on images of Latinos in the media, less than 5 percent of the speaking roles in film are played by Latinos —far less than their real numbers— and 38 percent the Latinas are either naked or partially clothed. Most of these Latino roles are written by predominantly young, white, male writers. Bad data in, bad data out. Latinos are underrepresented (and underdressed) in the media, recreating a world that fills Trump’s followers with nostalgia.

Trump’s portrayal of Latinos is false and incorrect, created from a white, in-control and privileged perspective, and that’s how he and his supporters want America to remain. It’s easy to pick on undocumented immigrants —or “future Americans”— because they have no champions or billions to spend on a chance to buy the White House. They are too busy working and sweating in backbreaking jobs (that most white Americans won’t take) and paying taxes into a social security system from which they can never collect. They have left an estimated $100 billion in uncollected taxes in our coffers, according to a government study. Undocumented laborers make up 50 percent of the country’s pickers of fruit and vegetables, and when they are kept from working, such as what happened in Georgia, an estimated $140 million in crops are left rotting in the fields.

Hate and prejudice are built on ignorance and fear, and no one has helped create that more than the media and Donald Trump. Trump himself says he will keep immigrant families together—just outside of America.

In a 2011 interview with conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham, he asked, “Do we have a country or not?”

Yes we do, Mr. Trump. And it’s a country of laws, a country big enough to create Americans like my family. My father fought in World War II and Vietnam. He volunteered to go to Vietnam to work as a civil servant to fix helicopters and planes—“for the overtime,” as he once told me. That’s a Mexican-American work ethic.

My uncle was killed in World War II in a Japanese POW camp. But Trump considers people captured by the enemy less heroic. Remember what he said about McCain? Trump avoided the draft himself. But hypocrisy and logic has never stopped him from spewing hate.

What Trump is proposing is against conservative values which demand less government and less taxes. But hate is not logical. We need to return to the America my family has served and died for. We need to turn off this reality-show character and derail his hate train.

Rick Najera

Award-winning writer, director and comedian Rick Najera


Rick Najera is a nationally acclaimed speaker, an award-winning writer-performer with credits in film, television, theatre and on Broadway. Currently he is writing and guest starring in Hulu’s hit show East Los High and directing the CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase for the 11th consecutive year. Najera recently filmed a television pilot Color Correct News which addresses current news and issues. He also developed and hosts the new Latino Thought Maker Series for Oxnard College, interviewing top entertainment professionals in the business such as Edward James Olmos, Esai Morales, the cast of Hulu’s East Los High, among many others. Najera has been nominated for two Writers Guild of America awards for Best Writing in a Comedy/Variety Television Series for his writing on Fox’s MADtv. He’s the author of the acclaimed memoir Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood.

For more information on Rick Najera, visit www.ricknajera.com or follow Najera on Twitter @ricknajera.