People Were Scared Trump’s Presidency Would Bring Racism out of the Woodwork. It is.
The 2016 U.S. presidential election will likely go down in the history books as one of the ugliest and most controversial in the United States history. From Donald Trump’s first controversial remarks on illegal immigrants from Mexico, to his most recent ban of immigrants from seven predominately Muslim countries, race has played a festering role the entire time.
Racism from some of Trump supporters has only become more predominant since the President’s victory. It didn’t take long after the votes were in to see stories of hateful speech bubbling to the surface. In Wellsville, N.Y., a massive swastika was found scrawled on a park wall with the caption “Make America White Again”. In Maple Grove, Minnesota, a high school bathroom was reported to have hateful graffiti reading “#gobacktoafrica,” “#whitesonly,” “#whiteamerica” and “Trump Train.” With the win of Donald Trump, racists in the United States have unfortunately begun to feel they had a voice, spewing hateful rhetoric and further building a gap in an already very divided country. Disappointingly, yet not surprisingly, Trump did little to quell such acts of hate. During a 60 Minutes interview in November, he claimed to be largely unaware of the numerous reported racist incidents following his victory, saying “I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it — if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.”
The two months between election day and Trump’s inauguration have done little to unify, with examples of racist behaviors becoming more brazen. Just days after the inauguration, Lebanon Valley College student Ricky Lee Bugg Jr., a junior member of the LVC men’s basketball team, claimed he was called racial slurs by the manager of an off-campus restaurant. Bugg said he and a friend were eating at the restaurant, when the manager came out and said “I don’t need you n***’s money.” Not surprisingly, the two then exchanged heated words:
“I flipped a few chairs,” Bugg said, adding he yelled at the owner, “That’s not the way to treat people. The manager was like, now that Donald Trump is president, I can say what I want.”
A more violent incident happened just a week after the inauguration at New York’s JFK Airport according to Fox News, when a man was accused of kicking and verbally berating a Muslim Delta employee. The attack happened when Robin Rhodes barged into the office of Delta employee Rabeeya Khan, asking her if she was praying and then punching the door. When Khan asked what she had done to cause such an unnecessary outburst, Rhodes replied “You did nothing”, cursed at her and kicked her in the leg. Khan then left her office to go seek security, as Rhodes followed her and then mocked her by getting on his knees in a poor attempt to imitate a Muslim prayer. He shouted: “Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you. You can ask Germany, Belgium and France about these kind of people. You see what happens”. When he was hauled off in handcuffs, Rhodes allegedly told the police “I guess I am going to jail for disorderly conduct. I couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman because their back was to me and they had something covering their head.” Khan was wearing a hijab at the time of the attack.
Educators like Enid Logan, who teaches sociology and African-American studies at the University of Minnesota, say the controversial statements given by Trump have given a pedestal for those who felt suppressed during the eight-year Obama administration. They no longer have to hide their opinions – no matter how nasty they may be. “There was nothing subtle with Trump — extreme vetting and ideological testing of Muslims, deporting all undocumented people, Mexicans are rapists and murders,” said Logan. “And he won. White people supported him. So this kind of thinking isn’t as marginal as we thought.”
If it was Trump who fanned the embers of racism into flames, then it’s largely up to him as President to extinguish them if he’s to have any chance at unifying rather than continuing to divide. Because there’s really nothing great about a United States of America where those with prejudice in their hearts feel empowered to carry out such bigoted acts.