When Silence is Deadly

Texas welcome center in Denton, TX

For many Texas-Mexicans (Tejanos), it’s the silence of our friends and our neighbors that are Trump supporters that is killing us.  Tragically, until last Saturday, it was figurative – how can they stay silent? How can they believe this bullshit? Then, everything changed in a moment, when a white man drove 11 hours from North Texas to murder people just like us in El Paso.  He felt empowered to murder us in cold blood in our cars, while fundraising for our children’s’ soccer teams, and simply grocery shopping, because we were brown.

My question to you – to the people I love that are Trump supporters – is when will you use your power to push back on the ugliness that comes out of our President’s mouth?  When will you force him to be a President for all American citizens, not just his base.

The Beauty of South Texas

South Texas is magical. It is and will always be my home, even when I don’t live there. It is where my family lives, where I grew up, where my heart is.

What makes South Texas so special has so much to do with its people. It is and I hope always will be one of those special places where people of different backgrounds, different cultures, and different races came together and proved that it is our diversity that makes us stronger.

As you travel from El Paso to Corpus Christi, along the Rio Grande and up the Gulf Coast, you have community after community of majority Tejano communities, but with Irish and German families all brought together. The Irish, German, Polish and Czech families settled in the region after the war with Mexico and became absorbed into the fabric of life in south Texas to create a culture that is uniquely different. From the Tex-Mex cuisine, to Tejano music (which is a fusion of classical Mexican music fused with Polka,) to the Texas-Spanish dialect, not English, not Spanish, but something in between.

South Texas is where I grew up side-by-side with neighbors, white and brown, that even when we disagreed with each other on fundamentally important issues, we found a way to be friends.

And then Trump happened…

In 2015, as Trump’s momentum grew, Mexican-Americans throughout the country, along with many, many others, were horrified with the language that Trump used to speak about minorities and immigrants. It was clear that he had racist tendencies, and it was also becoming clear that the people that believed in the rhetoric he was screaming about was allowing some of the worst in America to rise up.

For many of Tejanos in South Texas, his language around Mexicans and migrants hit home.  The migrant workers he berated were our aunts and uncles, our friends and family. The “rapists and criminals” he decried – were they US? Who were they?

Yet, we watched as some of friends, our family, started to embrace Trump. They rationalized his language as strong but accurate. Maybe he could say it in a better way but in your minds it was true. Some of you agreed with his economic policies. Some of you just like his style – loud, brash, angry.

Over the last four years, in a community in which color never mattered before, I started to see a divide – driven by a single polarizing figure.  And it hurt. It hurt because you could not understand the angst and the fear that we felt.  You could not understand that we are less then a full generation away from Jim Crow laws being repealed.  The scars of institutionalized racism still sit on the shoulders of my father, my aunts and uncles, even if they don’t talk about what it meant to be marginalized and segregated.

We saw something ugly and terrifying starting to build, supported by Trump’s words and actions, and had no idea what it could mean.

Now we see what could be

So, here we are.  The country mourns three mass shootings in less than a week. El Paso was clearly a hate crime, focused on the brown people that Trump has spent the last four years targeting.  As the shooter targeted the Mexican invasion at a border town, it did not matter if the brown person he shot was an American citizen or not. It didn’t matter if his victim’s families had been here for generations or were literally just visiting for the day. All that mattered to him was the color of their skin, and he felt justified thanks to the words of his President.

Trump has proven over and over and over again that he is not here to be an American president. He is here for his base, and candidly, whether they admit it or not, those that he is appealing have a problem with minorities.  They are the people who cheer “send her back.” They are the ones that believe in this “Mexican invasion” fallacy – which simple statistics (real DATA) clearly disproves.  That is a real fact, versus Trump’s alternative facts.

However, there are many who support Trump because you support the larger Republican platform.  He needs you to get elected too, yet you aren’t his base.  You know his language is wrong. You know his lying is immoral. You recognize his divisiveness is hurting this country. How far will you let it go before you take a stand?

My plea to my Republican friends and family

Speak up! Give your elected leaders the courage to stand up to Trump.  Stand up for your friends, your family, that he has put in danger with his inflammatory language.

My Republican friends hate the connection that non-Trump supporters make between the American president today and Hitler.  But, look to history to understand why the comparison matters.

My grandmother grew up in Nazi Germany. She lived through the war as a child. And she is scared. She is also a Republican who watches Fox News.  Her take as our country has changed in the last few years is simple.

It was the silence of the German majority that allowed Hitler’s power to grow until it was too late. Then, no one could speak up.

Trump does not care about those that don’t support him. My voice in his mind is silenced already. But your voice could matter.  Take a stand, force him to be accountable, push him to be the President that you thought he might be able to be originally.

Speak up!  Stand up!  

 

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Dear Mr. Trump

white-house

I published this several months ago after being struck by the emotion and power and love that our country felt for Muhammad Ali. Ironically, this was before Trump’s suggested “ban on Muslims” so now I feel this is even more relevant.

Today, even if Trump won the election, most of us our terrified for the future of our country. No one WON in this election, least of all the country.  Today for many of us, the question we ask ourselves is “what do we tell our children.”

Note – unlike Trump loyalists, democrats aren’t crying foul. We aren’t insisting the election is rigged. We aren’t spewing hate at each other. We are heartbroken, frightened, shocked, and scared. But we will not give up. Because Trump’s America, at least as he described it during his election, is not our America and now as president, he MUST aspire to represent all of us.

So, I have a question for Mr. Trump, and I leave it Mr. Trump, because he has not earned my trust or my respect yet. He isn’t my president yet. Though I acknowledge that in several months, he will be.

I ask him -What kind of leader will he be…

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Dear Mr. Trump:

Today, as I watched Good Morning America, there were two back-to-back segments. One was on politics and one was on the Ali memorial in Louisville. One spoke about your team fighting your recorded deposition being made public from the Trump University debacle, and the other showed people lining the streets of Louisville to welcome one of their favorite sons home – larger than life even as he made his final journey, but still the poor, skinny boy who began boxing because someone stole his bike and he couldn’t fight back. Continue reading “Dear Mr. Trump”

When Passing is Failing

This is going to make most of you uncomfortable. I will use language in this blog that makes you uncomfortable. Race and bias is not something Americans like to talk about.  We all know there are problems, but we don’t know how to fix them, and we don’t want to admit to ourselves that deep down, we all might have our own prejudices to contend with.

Today, I’m not going to pontificate or problem solve. I’m not going to hypothesize about what’s wrong. Candidly, I don’t have any of the answers nor do I truly understand all of the whys behind our countries issues today.

Instead, I’m going to tell you a little about my story. My experience with prejudice, with feeling different and confused, and how it shaped the person I am today…mostly through making some really cowardly decisions at 18.  Continue reading “When Passing is Failing”

Love Wins, Not Hate

love, patriotism, gesture, peace and people concept - closeup of

My heart has become heavier and heavier over the last few days and weeks, and I finally feel so strongly compelled to write about it that I can’t stop myself.

As the 2016 election process has continued to evolve, I have watched the American commentary on the candidates and supporters of the candidates dissolve intro vitriolic statements of hate. We have regressed to a society that refuses to understand that the world is grey and blue  and red with many different shades, and instead, aligned in camps that view the world exclusively in black and white. Wrong and right. My way or not at all.

We have stopped remembering the foundations of our country – all men and women are equal regardless of gender, religion, race, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation.  We ALL deserve respect and we all deserve a voice. Continue reading “Love Wins, Not Hate”

Why I love Jerry Christofferson and Facebook

I do not know Mr. C! I will start by saying that from the beginning.  As is the case with many viral phenomena, he showed up on my feed as a share of a share, but his posted essay on the state of America and American politics was epic! What is even better – it isn’t his essay! It looks like he copied (and sourced) that the author is LaMonte M. Fowler, another person that I don’t know. Continue reading “Why I love Jerry Christofferson and Facebook”