President Donald Trump has reopened the closet for racial expression in America.
With Arizona’s close proximity to the border, however, racial issues among immigrants is nothing new.
In the last 10 months, the Trump administration has proposed a list of anti-immigration laws including, the wall between Mexico and United States, the removal of DACA, pardoning Joe Arpaio, and trying to ban people from eight countries from entering the U.S.
This set many people off and changed the outlook of racism today.
While his input on immigrants is much stronger than previous officials, anti-immigration policies are familiar for those in America.
“It’s pervasive. The anti-migrant fence has to have a long history in Arizona,” said Liane Hernandez, community outreach and education director for YWCA Southern Arizona. “While Trump’s statements have been shocking, because he’s the president of the United States, it is not new.”
Caroline Isaacs, program director at Tucson headquarters for American Friends Service Committee, said, “I don’t think that it has gotten any worse since Trump was elected, but became more visible. This country was founded through racist enterprises of colonialism and it was built through slavery, so that’s not new.”
“What’s different is that, for a while there was a social consensus that racism was unacceptable, and so it essentially got pushed underground and you had these kinds of coded expressions of racism and institutional racism and policies that were all veiled,” Issacs said.
Now the veil has been lifted, and we are seeing certain kinds of extremism through various forms of media, where it has become normalized, she said.
“SB-1070 was passed long before Trump was even thought to be a possibility as a president,” said Chuck Kaufman, national co-coordinator at Tucson headquarters for Alliance for Global Justice, about the anti-immigration law passed by Arizona in 2010 which requires police to determine the immigration status of someone arrested or detained when there is “reasonable suspicion” they are not in the U.S. legally.
Added Kaufman: “I think the difference since Trump has been elected is, there’s people who used to not express their racism publicly for fear of venture, concerned about what other people think about them, and now feel empowered to spew their racist feelings loudly and widely.”
This type of expression has not only been a negative impact, however. Those who are discriminated not just racially but also through gender are coming out and taking a stand for themselves.
“People realized, maybe more after Trump was elected, that some of their basic freedoms and personal security are at stake and absolutely need to speak up,” Kaufman said.
The nation needs to take steps to insure the future of the country and what role immigration plays.
“Where do we end up? If we continue to follow this trajectory of normalizing extremism, where do we end up as a society?” Isaacs asked.
For the future of racism, not only in Arizona but for the United States, it is hard to determine.
“Across the country, what we are seeing is the lack of conversations about our history, you know, a meaningful conversation around truth and reconciliation, we are just going to see a re-confrontation of these same issues coming back, generation after generation after generation,” Hernandez said.
As a community, it is important to take a stand on what kind of a nation we are, Isaacs said.
“My hope is that we reach a place where we are forced to have a national reckoning about this. So, the best possible outcome, because these things are being laid bare, is that we’re forced to deal with them and we have to make a decision collectively as a society, as a democracy, and say what we are about,” Isaacs said. “Are we a nation of immigrants, are we a melting pot, are we a place of opportunity, or are we not?”
It is predicted that by 2044, whites will no longer be the majority in America. It is not the number of white people that gives them the power.
“So, here’s the thing, white supremacy is not just about the presence or lack of white people,” Hernandez said. “It is about the systems, laws and structures which systemically and institutionally exclude and actively work against the freedom, dignity and bodies of women, POC, queer folk and any other marginalized people.”
Being majority is not the issue that gives white people the power in this nation, but the disproportionate manners and the unlawful systems that were formed because of white supremacy, she said.
The truthful prediction for the future is that being majority or minority will not change the acts in this country, but the fact that the country must come together and face these issues, Hernandez said.
“There is going to take a whole lot more then less white folk to get to equity, justice and ultimately freedom. And, we aren’t free until we all are free,” she said.
Sophie Manley is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org