“So, you Mexican?”
The Uber driver was an older man with a thick Brooklyn accent. I was in New York on business from my hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico and on my way to the New York Public Library. I wasn’t confident I could navigate the subway system from Brooklyn.
I quickly mumbled, “Mexican American,” and stayed quiet after that, regretting that I told him that I am from New Mexico. I stared out the window at the famous bridge and wondering if he’d pull over and leave me on it.
That is the reality of the Trump Effect. Regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s election, the effect will no doubt remain.
The hostility that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has fed through his rhetoric has had violent effects throughout the country on immigrants, women, and people of color. Anti-Trump protesters are routinely harassed and physically abused at his rallies, often at the urging of Trump himself.
Incidents of violence toward Muslims — including murder — have increased since 2015 and a map of violent attacks linked to Trump and his hateful rhetoric show a nationwide trend of violence against Immigrant communities and communities of color. Most recently, a Black church in Mississippi was set on fire and the words, “Vote Trump,” were spray painted on the wall.
While I have heard many people threaten to leave the United States and move to Canada if Trump wins, millions more — particularly people of color and poor people- don’t have the luxury of even joking about leaving.
We will be stuck, and I fear our lives will be in danger.
As a Chicana, I have lived my life with the security and privilege of citizenship, as have most of my family. We don’t live with the threat of deportation, nor have we ever been afraid in our own city, where there is a high population of people who look like us and have our same names. The Trump Effect has created an open hostility, particularly toward communities of color. Immigrants, who have been the targets of racist Republican policy for decades, will be among those who face the greatest danger.
I am not naive enough to think racism in the U.S. is new. There is a long history of state-sponsored racism that has played itself out in the everyday actions of people. From Jim Crow laws, broken treaties on sovereign Native land, deportation raids and separating of families to laws regulating women’s bodies, U.S. policies have fed antipathy toward Black, Indigenous, Immigrant, Latino, Asian, women and LGBTQ communities in our cities and towns for generations.
Trump isn’t saying anything new or different. In many ways, people who are already in office (including his running mate Mike Pence) have already been carrying out the policies he is promising.
The difference I feel now is the frenzy and almost cult-like state that Trump supporters have entered.
When Trump recently visited Albuquerque on October 30, there was a long line of about 4,000 of his supporters, as there have been in most every other city. With Trump and Clinton too close for comfort in the polls, the threat of a Trump presidency continues to loom.
He may not win, but there are far too many people who are willing to be open with their support of a racist, sexist, xenophobic accused sexual predator because they feel powerful in doing so. Therein lies the danger.
Whether he wins or loses, this group of empowered, angry people will be looking for someone to blame. And they will take it out on the very groups that Trump has targeted.
None of this means, however, that our communities are not already organizing against this hateful rhetoric and acts of violence. Many groups are already working to shift that dynamic. Movements like All Of Us 2016 and GOP Hands Off Me, have inspired direct action all over the U.S. and sparked conversation that is more about people of color and women standing in our own power than it is about fear.
Trump’s racism is nothing new, and we will continue to fight it long after he is gone.
That day on the Brooklyn Bridge, I waited in silence for my driver’s response.
“You probably have good food there, don’t you?”
We talked food for the rest of the car ride.
.Andrea Serrano is Deputy Director at OLÉ in Albuquerque, NM and is a Ms. Foundation Public Voices Fellow.