ALMA ROSA CARRILLO FLORES
During this political campaign I often wonder “How can we take care of ourselves, not only as individuals, but as a society?” I personally tried to stay away from my own country’s political atmosphere and now I have found myself embedded in United States politics.
If I look at the news from back home in Mexico, I see mostly corruption, poverty, violence and so on. Don’t get me wrong, however. That is not what Mexico is all about. This single story about Mexico is what the western world has said about my country and many other developing nations. But that is a different topic for a different time.
What I really want to say here is that government and politics here and back home are both chaotic in their own way. But politics in the United States are not just based on strategies to get votes. Here, it is about racism and because of this, politicians make themselves openly and publicly racist.
Racism is what Trump’s campaign has been about since the beginning of this ridiculous circus also known as the election. I don’t mean to be disrespectful of U.S. politics and culture, but it is problematic when politics start to become racist, classist, sexist and so on.
So let’s think about what Trump’s campaign and presidential debates are about and why.
After avoiding saying his name or posting about him on social media, I am writing an article on his comments and political campaign. One of the most important things for people to understand is very clear; he is a racist. As much as people want to see this as a political strategy, he is still a racist, rich, white man.
I want to explain Trump’s problematic comments from a Mexican immigrant perspective.
First, he has called all immigrants rapists, murders and many other derogatory terms that I cannot even repeat. He then wants to build an enormous wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico and even expects my country to pay for this ridiculous idea.
I understand how it might be easy to agree to such terms if you only think about the security of this country. Maybe a wall would do one good thing: make the transportation of drugs across the border between the two countries more difficult. Maybe it would even stop the import of firearms to Mexican cartels.
But let’s be realistic. This will most likely not happen because there is a complicity between the two governments where one provides arms and the other provides drugs, oil and produce.
Not all immigrants are criminals or even Mexican. There is a wide variety of ethnicities, cultures and origins in this country. Have people forgotten that this country was built by immigrants?
Our Native American brothers and sisters are the first ones to have inhabited this land and yet they are not trying to kick all of us out. Instead their lands and beautiful culture are being taken away by the immigrants whose ancestors came to conquer.
This nation has become one of the most powerful nations in great part due to the work of the immigrants. Their work is found in many sectors: the agricultural sector, public service sector and even the corporate and business sectors.
Coming to this country illegally can be a deadly experience. Those who come are at high risk of being shot by the border patrol, drowning in the lake separating the two countries, dying in the desert due to dehydration, starving or being kidnapped by the cartels. And that is only if they cross directly from Mexico. Those crossing from further south in Latin America take the train La Bestia which takes them all across Mexico to finally make it to the border.
Immigrants are not only men but also a considerable number are women. Some of whom are even pregnant, but yet they are willing to take the risk. Many women are sexually abused during this long trip. Some fall off the train and either die or are severely injured.
There are also children who travel alone and face the most dangers as they have no protection during the journey. Some are kidnapped by Mexican cartels or military members to work as sex slaves.
Most of those who decide to come to the U.S. are quite aware of these dangers, but decide to come anyway. Some come to this country to be reunited to their family members (as was my case) after being separated for years and years. They decide that escaping violence, poverty, sexual abuse, oppression and corruption is worth the risk.
Thus when I hear Trump or others make comments about immigrants in the U.S. being criminals and rapists, I cannot turn my face the other way. It takes a lot to come to this country, not only during the journey but also when we leave behind our countries and the racism that we face when we come to this one. If people are making the decision to come to find a better life in the U.S., it is because they are in great need, not because they want to take advantage of the country.
No matter who becomes the President of the United States, I really hope that something will be done to heal a society that is mainly composed of immigrants. These communities have been attacked and stigmatized for years but this publicly racist campaign by Trump has taken these insults and attacks to another level.
I hope that a country with many good aspects can learn to stop judging people only on their skin color, ethnicity and origin, to embrace and learn about our differences without cultural appropriation, color blindness or systematic racism.