Next week is our 2nd year anniversary living in Georgia. I’ve had no regrets about the move. My blog is filled with words and photographs of my love for Georgia’s landscape and weather. From the very day we moved to Georgia we’ve felt welcomed and accepted. I have to admit, before the move, I had little knowledge of The South. I was nervous about the cultural differences there might be, and if I would be accepted as a Hispanic or a northerner. I think our friends back in Chicago were nervous for us as well. We often get asked by family and friends if he we have encountered any racism in our Atlanta suburb. I explain to them the stereotype of The South being racist is not accurate, at least not in our town. I had to explain to them that strangers would say hello to each other on the street, and I was invited to play dates by the second week of moving into town. People were extremely polite and kind.
I had thought we found paradise. I was excited for my children to say “yes ma’am” and enjoy a childhood where they would have the freedom to be outdoors year around. If only I could stay living in that rose-colored world, but it is an election year, and my perfect suburb is not immune to the divide that the country is experiencing.
The contrast from living in a blue state to living in a red state is very visible now. Being a Mexican American in a red state is an eye-opening experience. Mexicans were brought into the forefront of the political arena by Donald Trump during his presidential announcement speech when he said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
It was insulting to hear him call my parents and relatives that immigrated to the US rapist and criminals. What is that you say? He said some are good people so that makes it ok. No. He said he “assumes” some are be good people. You see, to assume is to say you are guessing, you are really not sure.
My relatives are citizens now, thanks to Ronald Reagan’s Amnesty program, but I can’t deny our history. I know they all came to work, and I know they are not drug dealers or rapists. I know most immigrants work in factories, agriculture, hotels, landscaping, housekeeping…not drug dealing. I know that although they may not become rich working in blue-collar jobs, they are giving their children a better life than they lived. I know, I don’t assume. Trump did not have to walk in my shoes to know this. It is statistically accurate. It is for that reason that I dislike Donald Trump. I can never support his use of racism to fuel his campaign. Over and over again he paints Mexicans as the enemy, and to me his name is synonymous to a hate symbol. To discuss securing the border or enforcing immigration laws is what civil people do, but to name call and create an inaccurate portrayal of people that look like me is dangerous and irresponsible.
Currently, Trump signs could be found on front lawns in my Atlanta suburb. Trump bumper stickers are on cars, and people wear “Make America Great Again” hats. At first it made my heart break every time I saw a Trump sign. For the first time since I had moved here I felt unwanted. I felt that these people must all agree with Trump, who said he could not trust a Mexican American judge because of his Mexican heritage and Mexican billionaire is conspiring with Hillary and the New York Times to create a sex scandal against him. When in trouble he finds a Mexican to blame. Seeing the vast Trump support in Georgia I wondered if we made a mistake in moving here. Don’t get me wrong, I have to say that there are many other people in my suburb that feel like I do about Trump. It just seems that by the look of the lawn Trump signs we are outnumbered.
If I lived in Chicago, I would most definitely write these Trump supporters off as crazy. It is so easy to think of people as crazy if you don’t know them. Now they were my neighbors and friends. I could read their posts on Facebook, where they expressed their distrust in Hillary Clinton and their desire to protect their conservative values. They are not voting for Trump. They are voting for the party. There are a few who truly do like Trump and insisted the media was to blame for my taking offense to Donald’s Trumps comments, as if it all his comments were not taped on video for all to replay, however, for the most part, as I heard Trump’s supporters reasons for supporting him I found out they care about taxes, the security of the country, gun laws, abortion laws, etc. They did not like Trump for the racist things he said. Those comments were just irrelevant to them. It was something to accept or rationalize in order to protect something higher in their priority list. They don’t hate me, they hate Hillary. In fact they hate Hillary as much as I hate Trump.
Last week I was at my kid’s soccer game. A man was wearing a Trump shirt. I read his shirt and looked up and our eyes met. I looked away. I don’t know how that man feels about me, but I do know how the friends I’ve made feel about me. They reach out to offer help if my kids are sick. I see them tell their kids to stand up for other kids that get bullied. I see them do their best at parenting. I no longer think we made a mistake in moving to this suburb of Atlanta. I realize that it is important for me to be here. Just like it would have been easy for me to call Trump supporters crazy if I lived in Chicago, it would be easy for Trump supporters to not care how Trump’s words affect me if they’ve never met anyone like me. I can’t defend some of the claims against Hillary and they can’t defend some of the claims against Trump. We have limited choices. We are forced to make the best choice for our family. I needed to write this and be at peace. I needed it to make sense to me. No matter who you support politically being able to look at issues through someone else’s eyes can bring a feeling of peace and calm. I am now glad for this opportunity. My political stance is unchanged, but at least now I can respect the opposing views, and I hope that by being in Georgia I’ve helped someone else respect mine.