Letter to the Editor

Karen Santana-Garces

I’m going to start this by telling you the first time I realized I wasn’t fully “American”. I got asked if I rode a lawnmower to school. It was fourth grade. I’ve also been called a beaner cunt.

You might think these are outliers, and they are. But this has just been normalized. When the day after the election you call your mother crying and she says, “It’s okay you can pass for white” it should strike some fear in you. If Obama had lost in 2012, people would’ve been sad but fine. One professor told me that he would have given up another Obama term if it meant we wouldn’t have gone through this. When everything you fear about yourself becomes the highest office, it becomes a matter of belonging.

I was glad whenever someone mistook me for white, I was okay when people would tell me “Oh you’re not really Mexican.”

I’m lucky, I have my education and we have the resources to make it through anything that happens. I don’t care about myself, I care about people who aren’t so “lucky”. People who have less of a buffer when it comes to their heritage. Democracy is about looking at your neighbor and caring about his future too. It’s not about someone saying “No, we want more people like you!” because I was privileged enough to believe I wasn’t like other Mexicans when I should’ve tried harder to be like them and embrace my history. My need for assimilation cut down ties to my ancestry that I can’t get back, and I’m ashamed at how long it’s taken me to

realize what I’ve lost trying to be more acceptable. If you voted Trump and are in the same economic

situation if not better than myself I don’t understand you. I would like to, but I don’t know if I can. Even if you don’t agree with Secretary Clinton’s policies, you should have been able to hear what Trump was saying and immediately disqualify him as a potential president.

“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists”

“Jeb Bush has to like Mexican illegals because of his wife”

“Jeb Bush is crazy, who cares that he speaks Mexican, this is America, English!!”

He called a Hispanic Ms. Universe “Miss Housekeeping”

If you fully support what he’s said I want to know why, and I want to know if you can look me in the eye while you repeat this and much worse to me.

I don’t want to look at my friends and have to question if they voted for Trump. I look at my friendships and assume I mattered to them, but maybe I didn’t. Maybe they went into the voting booth or got their absentee ballot. Maybe they looked at the names. Then maybe they thought about me, or their Muslim friends, or their LGTBQ friends. They thought about the time we’ve laughed together, cried together, got drunk together, or even when we met each other’s parents. When we’ve shaken hands, hugged, and looked each other in the eye to say I respect you. None of that mattered. Voting for

Trump doesn’t make you racist or sexist. It means you looked at these things square in the face and decided that wasn’t a deal-breaker. Maybe you think I’m overreacting, but that means you’ve never been afraid to be yourself. You’ve never walked in a room and realized you’re a minority so you have to keep up your charade. You’ve never laughed at something a person’s said about your race/ethnicity because you know engaging isn’t worth it. So you don’t get to tell me I’m overreacting. You don’t go into a room to seek someone who you’re not afraid to disclose your identity to.

I’m not a progressive, I never believed in Bernie Sanders. I am strictly center-left and I will remain that way. I believe in our founding fathers, our Constitution, and the office of the Presidency. I believe that most people who voted for Trump didn’t believe his rhetoric. But even if he “talked big game” shouldn’t you have realized that some people really do believe that? That when I see people with a Trump sticker I’m facing the same fears from when I was younger and someone shouted at me to get back across the border with the other wet- backs where I “belonged.”

Our first black president has to shake hands with someone openly endorsed by the KKK. I will watch and for the first time in my life, I will not be the model minority.

-Karen Santana-Garces, ‘17