Things That Matter

The New York Times Asked People To Share Stories Of Being Told To “Go Back” Where They Came From And My Heart Aches

I don’t think many of us needed reminders of all the blatant racism and xenophobia that exists in our country. From Los Angeles to Miami, Tulsa to Nashville, there has been incident after incident of racist attacks on immigrant communities, even on US-born citizens who are brown and black. Many of us have experienced these attacks first hand

But they’re being put under the microscope again as Trump’s racist comments reverberate across the country. When he told AOC and ‘The Squad’ to “go back” to where they came from – even though all but one were born in the US – he was opening up wounds for so many of us who have been told the exact same thing time and time again.

The New York Times published the story of 64 people, from 2nd generation Americans to recent immigrants from Japan, who were told to “go back” where they came from.

Credit: @LaraTakenaga / Twitter

For many, Donald Trump’s words and the chants from his supporters just reignited the pain or the memories of their own experiences. For many people who shared their experience, they talked about first learning about being ‘different’ because of comments just like those from the President.

Before adding their stories to the actual paper, the New York Times released a super emotional video that is pretty much something all of us can relate to.

From African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Native Americans to Mexican-Americans who have been living in the US for six generations, so many people have experienced these words simply because of the way they look and sound.

In the video, many shared that it was after Trump’s election in 2016 that they began experiencing more hurtful, racist comments. That’s a theme that common from the 16,000 responses according to the New York Times.

Here’s a closer look at some of the 64 responses the NYT highlighted.

Credit: @LaraTakenaga / Twitter

Although most of the people who shared their stories identify as people of color, many were told to ‘go back’ because of the language they speak or the clothes they were wearing. And for many, it’s been a constant stream of racist attacks ever since they were in this country as young children.

We’re also highlighting a few here. Like the story from this man who first experienced those seven words as a young boy.

Credit: New York Times

Imagine simply going up to the mercado con tu mamá and having someone yell such hateful words at you…

For many of us, we don’t have to imagine it. It’s happened to us before. We’ve been waiting in line to pay for something or to order in a restaurant, when somebody feels they have the right to invade your space, interrupt your day, and Hurt your with blatantly racist words.

Even in cities with large populations of migrants and diverse communities (think LA, New York, Chicago), we are not immune.

For many, the common theme was being told to speak English.

Credit: New York Times

Simple chores such as going to the post office, which Sandra Benitez’s of Washington was going, can result in racist encounters. Thankfully, she was equipped with a good come back, telling her attacker she “can speak in any language” that she wants.

While other’s pointed out they can’t even get into political discussions or disagreements without the trolls coming for their identity.

Credit: New York Times

As soon as you start expressing viewpoints or having opinions as a person of color, it seems like the trolls are ready to pounce on you for being black, brown, or Muslim.

The NYT piece and the larger discussion about the words “go back” all started when Trump uttered those words in regards to four congresswomen – all of whom are women of color.

Credit: @nytimes / Twitter

Amid infighting in the Democratic Party, Trump shared some opinions about what ‘The Squad’ should do if they’re so upset with how things are in the US. He suggested they “go back” to where they came from. Mind you: all but one of them were born right here in the US and the 4th is a US citizen.

In response to the piece, some took to Twitter to share their own experiences.

Credit: @nytimes / Twitter

When you’re constantly being beaten down for who you are and for your culture, it’s extremely important to have the support of your family. Your family is there to teach you the importance of being you and in taking pride in your heritage.

Some have defended the President’s language but most on Twitter knew exactly what he meant.

Credit: @nytimes / Twitter

Many pointed out just how sick they were of hearing people say that the phrase “go back” to where you came from doesn’t have any racial undertones to it. It’s obviously 100% blatantly racist to tell someone you think is different from you (based on color of their skin or the way they look) to go back where they came from.

It Started As An Attack On Migrants But California’s Prop 187 Helped Shape California’s Political Identity Today

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It Started As An Attack On Migrants But California’s Prop 187 Helped Shape California’s Political Identity Today

Bruce Huff / LA Times Archive

Today is the 25th anniversary of California voters passage of Proposition 187 which denied public service to immigrants without legal status. The prevailing legacy of Prop 187 should be a point of pride for California Latinxs who successfully overturned a scathing anti-immigrant measure. According to LAist, it “remains one of the most divisive measures in state history, and the battle over its passage ultimately reshaped California politics.”

The policy denied public health care and all education from elementary school to college to undocumented immigrants. Under Prop 187, state and local agencies had to report any immigrants who did not fulfill residency criteria to state and federal authorities.

When the initiative entered the ballot on November 8, 1994, it passed with 59% in favor. Following an uphill legal battle, it was declared unconstitutional in 1997 by a federal judge. Despite its horrid attack on the immigrant community, the battle to dismantle the proposition is what shifted California from a beacon of conservatism to a reliably blue state today. 

25 years ago, California officials concocted a plan to blame immigrants for a recent state recession. 

Following a state recession, in 1994, that cost California thousands of jobs, Republican Assemblyman Dick Mountjoy, an accountant and a political team came up with the ballot measure nicknamed “Save Our State.” Mountjoy’s measure said Californians suffered “economic hardship” because of undocumented immigrants using public services. 

Under the extreme initiative, anyone who wasn’t “lawfully admitted for a period of time” in the United States would be denied social services and education. Children would be kicked out of public schools after 90 days if their parents could not prove they were lawfully in the U.S. Moreover, teachers, health care providers, and law enforcement would be forced to survey their neighbors and report any individuals they believed to be undocumented to federal immigration agencies. 

These xenophobic provisions were alleged to “save money” for California. Prop 187 came during Republican Governor Pete Wilson’s re-election campaign, which was losing in the polls. Wilson was already using anti-immigrant rhetoric in his campaign ads, thus supporting Prop 187 was a no-brainer for the troubled governor. 

Latinx begin to organize against Prop 187.

During a debate, Wilson made it clear he had a zero-tolerance policy when it came to undocumented immigrants when he was asked if he would call INS on a second-grader.  

“I make no apology for putting California children first…Yes, those children who are in the country illegally deserve an education, but the government that owes it to them is not in Sacramento or even in Washington. It is in the country from which they have come, Wilson said

The same day 70,000 people, many Latinxs, marched in opposition to Prop 187. According to a Baltimore Sun report from the rally, at the time, it was the largest demonstration the state had ever seen. 

A graduate student, Angel Cervantes, organized 10,000 students from 30 LAUSD schools staged a walkout on November 2, 1994 — 6 days before the vote. 

“It was the biggest thing I had ever seen, probably one of the most life-changing empowering, moments,” Cervantes told the LA Times in 1994. “To see so many groups, so many organizations, so many banners, so many different Latin Americans… it was very powerful.”

Prop 187 passed — but it wouldn’t hold for long. 

Prop passed with 59 percent of voters approving it. But it was immediately challenged in court by seven groups, five of the lawsuits would make it through. Court Judge Mariana Pfaelzer issued a preliminary injunction blocking implementation on December 14, 1994. Despite appeals by the state, by 1996 President Bill Clinton’s welfare reform law would only strengthen the legal opposition to Prop 187. 

“Judge Pfaelzer ruled that the measure was unconstitutional in Nov. 1997, and almost two years later, in Jul. 1999, Proposition 187 was effectively overturned via federal mediation,” according to LAist. 

The fight against Prop 187 would solidify a better, stronger Democratic electorate — including a coalition of Latinxs.

The Republican-backed Prop 187 solidified for many Latinxs of the time that the GOP was an anti-immigrant and anti-Latinx party, causing many to flee toward the Democrats. These new Latinx Democrats would put Latinxs in elected offices in the years to come and shift California left. 

A report by Latino Decisions found that from 1994 to 2004, 1.8 million new voters, 66 percent of which were Latinx and 23 percent of which were Asian, registered in California. Today roughly 80 percent of elected positions in California belong to Democrats. 

The fight against Prop 187 unified Latinxs and other immigrants in a way the state had never seen. It forever changed the demographics of California politics and proved Latinxs were a valuable electorate with the power to transform.

A Student Filmed Her Teacher In Blackface And Now The Video Has Gone Viral And The Teacher Is On Leave

Things That Matter

A Student Filmed Her Teacher In Blackface And Now The Video Has Gone Viral And The Teacher Is On Leave

@karrington_kk / Twitter

A student’s video of her teacher wearing blackface to class to appear as the rapper Common on Halloween went viral. The teacher from California has since been placed on leave, according to BuzzFeed News

The clip circulated on Twitter after 16-year-old Karrington Kenney shared video footage. In the 23-second video, the teacher enacts a scene from Common’s Microsoft AI commercial for his students in the class. Kenney told BuzzFeed News the video came from a friend whose mother is also a teacher at Milpitas Unified School District where the incident occurred. 

The school told BuzzFeed they would not release the name of the teacher because it was a “confidential personnel matter.” 

Kenney shares the video of teacher with blackface on Twitter.

“Sooooooooo… one of our WHITE teachers at MHS yesterday decided to paint his face so look like Common the rapper yesterday,” Kenney tweeted. “The school just told him to clean up…”

In the video, not only is the teacher painted in dark brown makeup but it is much darker than Common’s actual skin color.

“With A.I. Microsoft technology, the future is up to you,”  he says attempting to speaking with an offensive black accent, while Common speaks much differently.  

“We decided to post this to bring this to the eye of public,” Kenney said. “He genuinely thought it was okay to come to school like this.”

Kenney said the incident hurt especially because there aren’t many black people at her school. 

“He’s a white male, so he came to school with his face painted and he tried to act as if he was the rapper,” Kenney told  KTVU. “To see that he really thought that was O.K. and it was a joke — it really hurts, especially being one of the handful of black people that we have at our school,”

Officials call for an investigation of the incident. 

Chris Norwood, the president of the school board in Milpitas, called for an investigation of the “insensitive” act. 

“As an African-American man, the history of blackface reminds me of the cruelty, hatred and fear my parents and people of African ancestry have dealt with in the past and still experience today around the world,” Norwood told the New York Times. “Unfortunately, blackface still permeates global society today through social media, comedy and fashion.”

The school releases a statement, calling it “insensitive.” 

School officials released a statement condemning the racist act to parents and faculty. 

“It hurts to know that this type of cultural insensitivity and lack of cultural awareness still hovers in the background,” the superintendent of the Milpitas Unified School District Cheryl Jordan and school principal Francis Rojas said in a statement. 

“We are committed to strengthening our school environment through culturally relevant and respectful education designed to address prejudice and racism so that we can prevent bullying and harassment. Blackface paint has a historical and present-day connotation of racism that demeans those of African ancestry. The act was disparaging to our students, parents, colleagues and the Milpitas community we serve.”

This isn’t the first time a teacher has been put on leave due to a racist act. 

In October, a Pennsylvania middle school teacher was placed on administrative leave after a viral Facebook video showed her call someone the N-word and using derogatory language. A video shows Renee Greeley confronting a parent in the school parking lot. 

“Because you’re black.” she tells the man who she insists is on welfare after he told he made six figures. “Always looking to milk the system. And you see me, a white woman, so you think I’ve got money.” 

Greeley then called the man the N-word and other expletives. The school administration promptly placed her on administrative leave without pay. 

“It’s got to stop,” District Superintendent Daniel P. McGarry told USA Today. “This rhetoric and this language and the way the people feel and the way they communicate has to stop. It’s destroying the country. It’s destroying (the) country and we’re going to be the place that’s going to prove to people that it can be done the right way.” 

Within the same week of this incident in Pennsylvania, a Virginia teacher was fired after she used a racial slur against her student. 

“She called him a ni**let. She called the student a ni**let. She went on and there were other words and terms expressed out loud,” one parent told NBC 12. “I’m concerned for the culture that’s within the school. I’m concerned about who we have in the classroom.”

As long as the President is comfortable using racist language and tropes in his rhetoric, citizens will continue to follow his lead.