In Trump’s America, Many People Live in Constant Fear

President’s Policies Have Demonized Large Segments of Society

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Trump supporters (Gage Skidmore)

By Manny Otiko

In March, the New York Times featured a story about Erik Hagerman, a former Nike executive who retired from corporate life to become a pig farmer. He was so devastated by the election victory of Donald Trump that he went on a “media boycott.” So no social media or news for him. He said his life has become blissfully peaceful since he stopped following Trump’s antics.

Hagerman has been criticized for enjoying the privilege of a white, upper middle-class American. He’s so protected that it doesn’t matter who is president. Either way, he’s going to be fine.

Other people don’t have that advantage. They have to stay on top of news and politics because their lives literally depend on it. I’m one of those people. I’m a black, immigrant journalist. That’s a triple whammy when it comes to Trump’s enemies!

In a way I can identify with the former Nike executive. After Trump’s election I couldn’t watch the news for a few days. I took solace in watching sports and entertainment shows. But, since I work in the news media, I eventually got back into keeping in touch with what was going on.

However, watching the news nowadays is traumatic. Apart from witnessing Trump tear apart the American government and display Third World-levels of corruption, I have also noticed a disturbing rise in ethnic violence.

America before Trump wasn’t perfect, but we seemed to be making strides towards racial harmony. But the election of Trump, who rode to power on a wave of white resentment, unleashed a floodgate of racial animosity. It’s as if this country has jumped 50 years backwards. CNN commentator Van Jones described it as a whitelash.

Now, I read stories of daily attacks against racial minorities. It reminds me a lot of living in 1980s Britain, which saw a rise of neo-fascists upset at the changing demographics and economic stagnation. They too decided their problems were caused by immigration. It was so bad that my parents kept me locked in doors when the National Front (now known as the British National Party) held its annual pro-white march through London.

Living in solidly-blue California, you would think I would be safe. But according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there were more than 1,000 racial attacks after Trump’s election and most of them were in California. In Riverside, Calif. a Muslim woman was recently attacked by a religious bigot.

According to the LA Times, Hussam Ayloush, the executive director of the greater Los Angeles area office of CAIR, said these kinds of incidents are becoming more common.

“Last year we had about 2,600 anti-Muslim bias incidents reported to CAIR offices nationwide,” he said.

Last year, I wrote a story about African Americans who were arming themselves in the wake of Trump’s election. Being a liberal, who grew up in Europe, I have never touched a gun, but I started wondering if I should arm myself.

Fortunately, I haven’t run into any problems. But I talked to a guy who worked at my local mall, who said he was attacked by a Trump supporter because he was singing in Spanish. He happened to be a martial arts practitioner and the Trump fan was left with a broken arm.

But this is what life is like for racial minorities in Trump’s America. Always on edge, terrified by the news and never knowing where the next attack is going to come from.

Just as scary is realizing that a large chunk of the country voted for him because of his race-baiting policies. These people have been emboldened by Trump and now think they can openly speak their views. Dayanna Volitich, a Florida middle school teacher, was suspended after it was revealed that she hosted a white supremacist podcast. And Amy Wax, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, was punished after she said black students always have low test scores and shouldn’t be admitted to college. And a few days ago preppy-looking white man in New York City racially abused women who were speaking Spanish in a restaurant and threatened to call ICE. How many more of these people are going to come out of the woodwork?

So, I don’t have the luxury of ignoring the news. One day I could wake up to a Trump tweet saying all non-white immigrants, legal or illegal, are being expelled. Don’t say it can’t happen. As ESPN correspondent Jemele Smith said, Trump has surrounded himself with white supremacists, like Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka. And one of his cabinet members, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, said he wants to reduce legal immigration. In this political climate, ignorance is not bliss.

Manny Otiko is a media professional who is based in Southern California. Follow him @mannyotiko on Twitter.

Originally published at www.mannythemedia.com on July 2, 2018.

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Manny Otiko writes about race, politics and sports. He has been published in Salon and LA Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @mannyotiko.

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