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Column: Discrimination rises in ‘Trump’s America’

Students speak out about their personal experience.

Protestors+gathered+under+an+upside-down+flag+waving+above+a+crowd+of+activists+at+the+trump+protest+on+Friday.
Protestors gathered under an upside-down flag waving above a crowd of activists at the trump protest on Friday.

Protestors gathered under an upside-down flag waving above a crowd of activists at the trump protest on Friday.

Yasmin Cortez

Yasmin Cortez

Protestors gathered under an upside-down flag waving above a crowd of activists at the trump protest on Friday.

Jason Enns, Arts & Life Editor

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Donald Trump: the man who filled the hearts of middle America with fear and hate using bold rhetoric, and in some cases, flat-out lies; the man who demanded to see Barack Obama’s birth certificate; the man who had protesters beaten-up at his rallies; the man who said he would keep Muslims out of our country and build a wall on the Mexican border… that man is the president of the United States.

Following his victory, our country seems more divided than ever. Protests and riots filled streets and highways in Long Beach, LA and across the nation. Posts reading “not my president” blew up social media sites, as well as descriptions of discriminatory acts, bullying and even hate crimes after just one day in “Trump’s America.”

Is this what Trump meant by “make America great again?” Did he want America to be a place where minorities and other marginalized groups experience fear for their safety on a daily basis? Did he want to make America great for the intolerant?

“It’s not about Trump being president, it’s about the rhetoric that he’s speaking,” said Brandon Ha, sophomore microbiology major and queer man of color. “It’s about the space that he’s creating, because what’s happening is he’s taken a rise of a hate-mongering speech and because of that it’s causing people to step back and not see equality and justice.”

Eight years after the election of our first black president, three years after the inception of the Black Lives Matter movement and over a year since the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, Trump’s support is thought to be strongly in part from right-wing citizens upset by these liberal progressions.

Intelligence Report, a magazine that Trump has made the cover of twice this year for his hate mongering, reported a surge of growth in hate groups across the country, like the Ku Klux Klan, which grew from 72 chapters in 2014 to 190 last year.

According to the year end report by the Anti-Defamation League, “domestic extremist killers” slew more people in 2015 than any year since 1995 — when the Oklahoma City bombing ended the lives of 168 men, women, and children. In 2015 they report at least 52 people killed by “adherents of domestic extremist movements.”

The question for Cal State Long Beach students is, will they be protected here? Though universities typically tend to be left-leaning, and Long Beach’s majority demographic is Hispanic and Latinx, there is still no way to feel completely safe in “Trump’s America.”

“Students were just feeling unsafe,” said CSULB assistant director of multicultural affairs, Christian Lozano, regarding student reaction after the election.

Lozano, however, remained hopeful that it might not be as bad in California as it is in other states like the midwest, where political science sophomore and La Raza member, Asia Gonzalez’s friend goes to school.

“My friend in Wisconsin tells me about the Trump supporters following her at night, the man in his KKK outfit a block away from her dorm, and the hateful messages written on the whiteboard on her dorm door,” Gonzalez said.

CSULB campus police sergeant Keith Caires says that being on college campuses will usually reduce one’s chance of experiencing prejudice.

“I haven’t seen it here. What I’ve seen on campus is just a perceived potential for a problem,” Caires said.

He says the right wing groups usually aren’t “loud and proud” at colleges like CSULB because they are usually overwhelmed by a large left presence.

“When you’re the majority demographic I think that changes the venue a little bit. So when it comes to a perceived racial divide, that’s how we break out here in Long Beach,” he said. “As far as like a bunch of KKK people coming in here and shouting them down, telling them they’re going to be deported, I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Caires and Lozano both praised groups like La Raza on campus for providing safe spaces for students. But, with the looming changes in our country’s social climate, students can’t be guaranteed safety when they leave campus.

“I’m lucky to have found a safe space in the Raza center but every day that I leave, I feel the dread once more,” Gonzalez said.

Caires’ biggest concern is the practice of unlawful protests, or altercations between protestors and those whose politics they stand against. So far no violence has spurred from campus marches, but that doesn’t mean they have been entirely peaceful.

“I have attended rallies protesting the president-elect and I am surprised to say that we have faced more criticism on campus than on the streets of Los Angeles,” Gonzales said. “Students not participating in the protests have yelled at us, ‘Get over it!’ and ‘Make America great again!’ I do sense more prejudice.”

As of 2015, 68 hate groups in California, second highest in the country, behind Texas — according to Intelligence Report. Shortly after the election results, a KKK rally popped up in Long Beach’s neighboring city of Anaheim. So it seems there is no escaping this nation’s racial divide, even in the “International City.” But the problem isn’t new, it’s just come out of hiding.

“This stuff has always been happening,” Lozano said. “For someone [who] is of color or [who] is marginalized or has had some challenges throughout their life… they were very much aware that this stuff has always been happening.”

But now more so than ever, he says students are afraid of being verbally or physically attacked when out in public. The reason, he says, is because Trump is speaking out about these groups, others think they can do the same.

“It was one of those moments where it revealed the truth. This has always been the case, now it just made it feel as though it was okay for people to be intolerant,”  Lozano said.

“Intolerant” — a phrase that does not bode well for our country’s future. Just to “tolerate” each other isn’t enough, he says.

“You’re not suppose to tolerate someone,” Lozano said. “You’re supposed to be open and understanding and empathetic. People need to learn from one another rather than just, ‘I’m going to tolerate you.’”

For now however, the bar is set low: the first step is tolerance. And, though the city of Long Beach may have better race relations than others, most of the students going to CSULB commute to school.

“Our community has always been diverse, it’s always been tolerant, that’s what I’ve experienced,” Caires said. “This community takes care of itself. Now, it’s not uncommon for a group, any group, that is experiencing problems outside to think they’re going to experience the problems here as well.”

Students like Brandon Ha, who lives in Orange County, have had to deal with a heightened level of prejudice at his workplace.

“I’ve had [customers] at work say like ‘This is Trump’s America, why are you working here? A white person should be working here,” Ha said.

With Trump in office it seems some students have more to fear than ever. His supporters are not only passionate about their views, but they have enough zeal to make it to the polls in high numbers.

Voters ages 18-29 continue to be one of the least represented groups at the polls. According to Electproject.org they average around 40 percent, about 10 percent less than the next least represented demographic, people ages 30-44.

“It’s only an election. What I really wanted students to know is that this isn’t the end of the world, everything will be fine,” Cynthia Schultheis, assistant director for the Multicultural Center said. “In two years we have another election so if you guys are smart you’ll get out there and register to vote, and vote.”

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