I have to start this piece by saying (no, screaming) that I love all of my brilliant, beautiful and brave brothers and sisters. I don’t care if you’re from Miami, Michigan or Mexico: I love you. Let that be known, established and duly noted. When I see you and when you see me, it’s all love because we’re family. Everything I do, as a great patriot once said of revolutionaries, is guided by a great feeling of love. I embody this because once you love so deeply and passionately, you’re incapable of hate. And because I love, care for and hold my own with such regard, it is perfectly acceptable to have this conversation. And that is what I want to do—present a forum to engage with well-meaning Latino Trump supporters now that your guy is at the helm. So with that, a few things must be said, before we get down to business.
First, let me say that this article isn’t meant to be divisive. In reality, Donald J. Trump has already divided us as a nation more than any other single person in this country’s history and I couldn’t make it any worse. Trump has divided us as a community too, creating factions and partitions between brown folk who support him and brown folk who do not. Between Latinos who were born in the United States and Latinos who were not. Between colorist/classist Latinos and non-colorist/classist Latinos, so on and so forth.
Who else has done more damage to the moral fabric, character and integrity of this country than Trump? Some will say he didn’t create the hate that’s been around in this country for so long, but he sure did capitalize from it and exploit it to gain the favor of closet racists, the so-called “Silent Majority,” and those who felt they’ve been left behind in Barack Obama’s “Post-Racial America.” Trump brought the hate, bitter vitriol, and culmination of white supremacy to the ballot box and back into the mainstream from under the rug where its been distilling for some time. Who would’ve thought such nastiness could win you the presidency in the year 2016?
Secondly, I’m titling this piece and directing it to “well-meaning Latino Trump supporters,” because I like to see the good in all people. I travel all around the country, meet folks from all walks of life, backgrounds and creeds. I like to think there’s good everywhere. I believe there’s good in everyone and if it’s not there yet, I believe that I can extract that from folks. I like to think there are sub-groups of Latino Trump supporters. Some are spiteful, malicious, and selfish (perhaps fully indoctrinated from colonization). Others are naïve, while some are oblivious or blind. Moreover, there are some that feel a sense of elitism, classism in its purest form. And a portion that could be placed in their own category who are apathetic (i.e., don’t care, didn’t want Hillary or wanted to see the system explode).
Thirdly, and this underscores my message of love, so don’t take this the wrong way. I ain’t calling nobody out (callout culture is toxic and unproductive—I got a million ways to get it and this ain’t one). I honestly didn’t want to take this tone or approach, but at this point, why not? Quite honestly, we’re all family and last I knew, family should be able to hash out their differences. Furthermore, I come from a large, diverse family and I have well-meaning Latino Trump supporters whom I call blood. I won’t let Donald Trump divide us any further. I won’t unfriend or unfollow you, because I’m better than that.
There will be no shaming, blaming or guilt-tripping here. No name-calling on my end, either. I won’t be mentioning the terms “coconut,” “sell-out” or “Tío Tomás.” What I really want to do is have a conversation, which is where I’ll go with the remainder of this piece. I also want to talk about the current state of affairs of the Latino community. (I’d say the “Latinx” community but you probably either don’t know what that means or disagree with it.)
So, my question to you now is: how’s this Trump presidency working out for you? Too early to call? Well, give me your best assertion.
For my vantage point, it’s looking like y’all pretty much got hoodwinked. Bamboozled. Okie doke’d.
Trump is a flat-out liar, not that this would probably make a difference to you at this point. But it’d be nice for you to be honest with yourself (and us) for once.
Our current president is incompetent, immature and grossly unprepared to execute the gravitas of this office. He’s unfit to serve. I’d call him a con artist, but I don’t think he possesses any sort of believability (but that’s just me). At any moment, this guy is two seconds away from a Twitter tantrum that will make the biggest trolls shake their heads (in fact, this might have already happened). He possesses no sensibilities and cerebral acuity to think, speak or act like a president should. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled with the intellectualism, articulation and the thick skin of Barack Hussein Obama. And make no mistake about it, Obama’s presidency was not perfect by any means, but if Obama was the “Deporter in Chief,” Trump is set to be that on steroids (partly because he wants to outdo Obama and also because he wants to Make America White Again).
Donald Trump is the ultimate symbol of white mediocrity. He doesn’t have to be perfect, he doesn’t have to be great, he doesn’t even have to be good, you’ll love him anyway. He said it himself, he could shoot someone in the middle of the street and you’d cheer him anyway. Let’s also put it this way: Barack Obama’s presidency, which had its own faults, was sandwiched in between two average white boys. This is white privilege on display. Barack was affable, polite, extremely intelligent, Harvard-educated, smiled when you cursed him, so on and so forth. He did (almost) everything right, everything that would make you think he was decent, respectable and well-liked, yet a good portion of America hated him anyway. I wonder why? They questioned his citizenship to the point where he (pleasantly) produced his birth certificate. And who led the birther movement and even called his birth certificate fake?
Oh, and don’t be mad that I uttered the words white privilege. I’m sorry this exists. I didn’t create it nor do I want it to flourish as it does. But that doesn’t mean I won’t call it what it is. There are some that claim white privilege doesn’t exist: could all of the scholars, sociologists, and scientists who study the subject be analyzing an illusion? White privilege is real and we all should acknowledge it as such. For example, it would be unwise of me not to recognize my privilege as a man. I have male privilege. I understand the nasty history of sexism, misogyny and patriarchy that this country has sponsored since its “founding.” I don’t want male privilege to exist either, but the best I can do is call it for what it is and look to deconstruct and destroy it at every turn.
Back to Trump: the masses of the American people don’t support or love this man. How do we know? He lost the popular vote, he has the lowest approval rating than any other President in American history has had at this point, and he also has a metaphorical target on his back from the majority of the media, Muslims and Mexicans. Likewise, a high population (approximately 50%) of Americans didn’t even bother to cast a vote, period. He (nor any other candidate) couldn’t get them to the polls because they don’t love, respect or herald him as he claims. He’s no commander, he’s no king and he’s not beloved.
Then there’s this question: is Donald Trump racist? Well, if he’s not, I’d hate to see who is. Furthermore, it can’t be a far jump from racism based on what he says publicly. If someone is verbalizing what he does, I can only imagine what he thinks and what he may utter behind closed doors. In addition, can you at least acknowledge that this country has a history of institutional racism, economic inequality and social injustice? Given that the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s occurred in my parents’ lifetime (when segregation was still legal), it’d be hard-pressed to deny it.
Do you even acknowledge racism ever existed? You can admit it, you know?
This has nothing to do with pointing fingers and everything to do with accepting reality. This country has a well-documented and hidden history of vile racism. We cannot take an ostrich approach to complications surrounding race relations in this country and be shocked when racially-charged incidents pop up from time to time. This is part of the reason we cannot, as a country, move forward—White America doesn’t want to be honest and I would hope some of you well-meaning Latinos would not fall into this same category.
And, I’m sorry to tell you, Donald Trump has done harm to this country with regards to race relations, Islamophobia, sexism and an anti-immigrant sentiment. I hope I’m not telling you nothing you don’t already know, but let’s face it: he’s no champion of civil rights. What does that say about the future of the nation and where we need to go?
This reminds me, I spoke to a 70-year old Latina Trump supporter the other day. She told me that this country is going backwards. I wonder why. Look who’s driving this country and what direction they’re taking it. Furthermore, why fight the future? This country cannot and should not go backwards. When Donald Trump says “Make America Great Again,” he unconsciously and inadvertently wants to take us back in time. A time where white superiority was celebrated, where unchecked corporatism devastated the planet and where certain populations of people had to live secretly and in terror.
I say all of this to lead me to this point: how can we move forward to have progress for the majority of Latinxs/os/as with hate being preached, accepted and endorsed from our own? Please don’t. This goes beyond political preference—lives are at stake. If they’re not, how do we get people being xenophobically being shot/killed/deported/castigated for their skin color?
And let me make this clear: we don’t have the luxury within our own community to deal with hate from each other. Not right now, not with what we’re up against.
True, this sort of unity may still be unobtainable, but let’s not act like your personal or familial record is unblemished. You ain’t perfect. I guarantee it. With all due respect, you can’t sit in your ivory tower and bark off accusations at good people who want to contribute to this country, without recognizing your own privilege. Without recognizing the help that you might’ve received to get where you are. If you are to suggest that immigrants (at best) should come here the right way, please elaborate on what that “right way” is? Do you know what the average immigrant has to do to become a citizen? Furthermore, did your family came here “the right way?” Do you know your family history? Do you know who once resided in the land that you call home, in which you probably claimed property and how it was taken away from those individuals? And, is the “the law” supreme? In other words, should we carelessly and uncritically accept every law that is on the books, proposed and in our history? If that were the case, we would still be protecting tragedies like slavery, segregation and ethnic internment. That’s dangerous and is not the country I want to live in.
Look at how we have been reduced to as a community. Every time Donald Trump speaks about Latinos —and Blacks for that matter, a group we undeniably share history with— look at the manner in which we are depicted: we’re all “illegals” living on welfare and in impoverished communities. Is this how the country sees us or is Trump just that out of touch? Does it matter to you? As Latinxs living in the United States, these broad strokes of expression deny the progress we have made, the incredible valor that we live with and the genius and beauty of our history.
Part of the reason Brown and Black folks are so hated in this country today is because we’re more educated than we’ve ever been, we’re becoming the majority and we’re fighting back in ways that we have never before. It’s scary for most of White America to recognize that their power is slowly slipping away. Perhaps some are even fearful, which is part and parcel to the conversation on how Trump was even elected president. He was the anti-Obama. Eight years of a Black president and the thought of having a woman at the helm for the next four to eight years was something that some of you well-meaning Latinos Trump supporters just couldn’t accept. It was the source of your rage, frustration and animosity with progressive politics and the system in general. Fighting the future of this country cannot and should not make you angry.
And I hope that anger doesn’t have you so consumed that you can’t acknowledge racism played a role in this election or the place that it has in this country. The actuality of it is, in Trump’s America, race matters. I wish it didn’t have to be about race. But I can’t shake the perception around the pigment of my skin or the perspective on our reality. What we’re up against, as a people today, is unfathomable. There are good families in this country right now who are afraid to leave their house. Living in trepidation. This is the country that the people who shout “Get out of my country!” want to live in.
This narrative would be incomplete if I didn’t at least mention the Drug War happening in this country. Really, almost all of this migration boils down to failed policy. You want to end “illegal immigration?” End the Drug War. It ain’t rocket science (but maybe if it was, we’d understand it better). People are being deported to their deaths all over some plants. Plants that are slowly becoming legal in the United States. Again, what does this say about the future of the country? Let’s get with the program and devise some smart policy.
Of course, you have the right to vote for whomever you like (that’s one of the good things about this country). But we also have to be honest with ourselves and with reality. So while you may be well-meaning, you’re misguided. You may not be immoral, wicked or evil, but your line of thought is erroneous and for the record, you’re standing on the wrong side of history.
Come to terms with it now so you can have a justifiable explanation to your children when they ask you about it in a few years. I also hope that your children will not be so brainwashed by your flawed ideology so much that it produces more ignorance. This country can’t afford it, but people like you will probably just blame everyone else.
And no, I’m not asking for handouts, freebies or reparations. Everything I got in my life, I got on my own. I want all Latinos, immigrants and people of color in this country to have access to that option too. This is ultimately what we’re fighting for: access. Yet with your vote and continued support for Trump, some of you might’ve had some decent intentions, but only for yourselves. You’ve failed to recognize and support people like you, who have a story that’s not quite as advanced as yours.
Finally (and this must be said) you’re better than no one. I don’t care how much money you have in your bank account, what zip code you were born in, what side of town you live on or who you voted for. In the eyes of Trump and his people, you’re either with him (kissing his ass) or against him. If you’re a Latino who’s with him, you’re cool in his book (for now). If you’re a Latino who’s against him, you might as well be an “illegal immigrant” yourself.
But don’t buy into the illusion of inclusion. If you’re welcomed into Trump’s room, are you sitting at the table or is your ass on the menu? Are you even allowed in the room or are you being kicked out? Either way, they’re using you for a photo opp and it never feels good to be used.
I will also say that I hope you’ll wake up at some point. All signs are saying that a Trump presidency is going to be a disaster, if it’s not one already. By the time you’re reading this, another scandal will be headlining, a scandal that Donald Trump will help produce. Look in the mirror, homie—you’re not who you think you are. It’s just a shame that some of my Latinx brothers and sisters can’t recognize this, either.
Be well and may the Creator bless you.
Máximo Anguiano is a raconteur, creative, and public intellectual based out of San Antonio, TX. He tweets from @blurbmsmithblots.
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