I knew I wanted to address this for awhile, and I originally intended to write this article exclusively about Donald Trump. However, I realized that 1. he wasn’t worth devoting the time and effort of writing an entire article and 2. that our nation’s racial biases stretch far beyond the opinion of one ignorant Republican presidential candidate. We have a seemingly unique problem for such a developed country: racism whose roots are so deep that the confederate flag was just officially removed in South Carolina about a month ago.
I distinctly remember my third grade teacher explaining to me that our country is a “melting pot,” full of hundreds of different cultures from all over the world. I never realized the beauty of always having access to great Mexican food in L.A., or Taiwanese shaved ice in Koreatown, or baklava in the Byzantine Quarter. I remember being constantly reminded of how great and lucky I was to be American, and that our nation was the leader for the rest of the world in regards to civil rights and democracy. And while I completely agree that everyone who is fortunate enough to live in the United States basically hit the jackpot, it’s not an excuse to justify acts of racial discrimination.
I haven’t been able to turn on the news within the last five years without hearing about police targeting African-Americans, or laws that justify police stopping people to look “undocumented” immigrants, or the justification of demanding the President of the United States’s birth certificate because, let’s face it, he is African-American. Americans likes to think that we are one of the most advanced countries in the world. We may be advanced in terms of technology and our military, but America lacks advancement in the fundamental principle of not judging someone based on the color of their skin.
The U.S. is the “nation of (and for) immigrants.” It is supposed to be the example of acceptance and democracy that the rest of the world respects, and it is failing. One of the biggest threats to the U.S. is the U.S. itself. It’s 2015, and the fact that #blacklivesmatter exists shows the failure of our country to stand against racial injustice. How can I continue to stay hopeful in our nation’s future when Donald Trump is the leading GOP candidate because people actually value his political fervor over his degrading comments about Mexican immigrants being rapists and criminals?
A lot of people somehow forget that every American, except Native Americans, are descendants of immigrants. It does not matter whether someone’s family came on the Mayflower or if someone emigrated from South America within the last year. We are all American, so why does timing matter? Why does color matter? Why does any of it matter? When I look back all the events that have transpired within the last couple of years I can only see the “melting pot” I had imagined as a child begin to crumble away. I know the vast majority of Americans hate this racism just as much as I do, which gives me hope that as a people we can overcome the systemic discrimination that occurs in our country. But I also know that I’m not alone when I say that frankly, I’m frightened to see the direction our country goes in within the next couple of years.