On Trump and Discrimination

Original Essay on Cafe Avant Garde

This article was written before the incidents on Friday, but we thought it would be appropriate to share the sentiment today regardless..

In one of my church gatherings, a 16 year old teenage boy (who I will presume to call Jon for the sake of anonymity) came to visit just for a little time, while he was visiting the United States. He’s originally from South Africa and is extremely slim and speaks with a slightly broken accent. He came with his much older sister who speaks english fluently. After this visit, they were to go back to South Africa, though they hope to visit again because they really enjoy being here in the United States. During the gathering when we were sharing our prayer requests, they asked prayer for two things: safe travels and for the United States to elect the right President. This was surprising to me. It was weird for someone who didn’t live in the states to ask for this kind of prayer, but their explanation was simple: they didn’t want to be hindered from coming back to the United States.

To many, this worry might be too radical. After all, no one running for the office has ever declared a ban on South Africans. But if you’ve been following the 2016 Election Race closely, you know this anxiety is reasonable. Remember: Jon is not a Mexican or a woman or a Muslim. What he also is, however, is someone who loves America who just happened to be someone who isn’t a U.S.-born white American: the only group Donald Trump, our current Republican nominee for the United States, doesn’t discriminate against.

My church, that I’m very grateful and proud to be a part of, is comprised mostly of extreme conservatives, whether the conservatism is associated with religious aspects or not. Most of my church prefers supporting Trump over other candidates because they believe the other candidate, unlike Trump, will enforce liberal values, liberal policies, and liberal judges. As someone who considers himself more of a conservative than a liberal, I sympathize with this kind of fear. And I’m not sure if Jon was aware of the fact of my church’s political populous, but he mentioned the prayer request as if he knew. He nor his sister called out Donald Trump’s name as if they felt uncomfortable to.

As someone who also is part of a minority race, I can’t help but also feel scared. Like, legitimately frightened. As anyone would be, I’m proud of the place I was born in. But I’m worried that if Trump becomes President, I won’t be allowed to be proud of that fact anymore. The fear is not out of anything Trump has said towards Asians or South Koreans, never mind me as an individual, specifically, but it has all to do with something Jill Soloway, comedian, calls, “Otherizing people.” After winning her emmy, in her backstage interview, she said, “he calls women pigs if they don’t look like beauty pageant contestants, he blames Muslims and Mexicans for our problems. He makes fun of disabled people.” The list, by the way (without being too specific), extends to: veterans who’ve been captured, women in general, conservative pundits, all media/journalists, undocumented immigrants, Wisconsinites, American diplomats, Black bankers, those who won’t vote for him, Iowans, the British, the Chinese, Germans, Iranians, Saudi Arabians, New Jerseyans, Democrats, even Republicans, U.S. leaders, and very recently, veterans with PTSD (Lists of everything he has insulted: here and here).

Just to be clear, this might not matter to you. And the fact that this might not matter to you, genuinely terrifies me. Maybe for you, all of this hatred is worth escaping gun control policies and the Affordable Care Act. Maybe for you, you legitimately believe Trump has the best policies or values that could better help our nation. But is there such thing as a good piece of legislation when it’s only aimed at those who aren’t being victimized? What good value or good policy exists in a world where discrimination is embraced and prejudice normalized?

I don’t know.

I really don’t know.