This op-ed was originally written and published by Jesse Mejia and appears on jessemejiaspeaks.com
On Tuesday, November 8, 2016 I was at Wellesley College. My wife, a Puerto Rican woman, graduated from Wellesley and that night the school was hosting a #WellesleyWatches party to witness what many had hoped to be a Clinton victory. The evening was becoming longer than expected and we decided to head back to our hotel to finish watching the results. By 2:00am, the election had not yet been called and my wife and I decided to go to bed. Unfortunately, we all know what happened when we woke up, and now America is waiting to see what happens next.
We checked out of the hotel in disbelief and as I was packing our SUV to begin an 8-hour drive back home, there was a pick-up truck parked in front of me. The truck had two bumper stickers, one read “F**K Obama” and the second read “My name is Hillary Clinton and I am Full of SH*T.” As we started our drive, our friends on social media began posting how one person was called a “Sand-Ni**er” while waiting in line to order coffee. Another friend was told “Go F*ck herself and jump off a cliff” if she did not support Trump, and soon thereafter we got word that some men in a pick-up truck drove to Wellesley’s Black Student Center with a TRUMP flag intimidating the black female students who were there studying. I was in that very same building the night before and now, students were being terrorized on their own campus. Trump’s victory has unleashed a bold openness of racism that frankly will never be removed from our American fabric. Racism is part of our history and it will be part of our future.
As a US-born Latino, I feel compelled to fight back against this hate. I feel compelled because there are members in our community who are not in a position to be vocal. I feel compelled because not enough of us have the financial means to start something, but the spark to start something has to ignite with someone. And perhaps most importantly, I feel compelled to fight back because I cannot allow the people with this renewed hate to believe that we are afraid. We are not afraid. Earlier today I had a friend send me a message to express her disgust, and she said:
“I’m physically ill con todo esto… no lo puedo creer … please tell me how this is even possible? No puedo creer que esté país pueda ser tan racista.”
How does a friend console another friend when we as a Latino community are surrounded by so much hate? I even had a couple White friends tell me that I am overreacting because Trump is not a racist. Racism is experienced, not explained, and until you feel it the way I feel it, no one can tell me that I am wrong. Nevertheless, I did figure out how to respond to my Latina friend and to my White friends, and I want to share my response with you.
I don’t have a complete answer on why this happened, but I feel I know what I can do to fight back. I will continue to promote professional development amongst the Latino groups I speak to, I will continue to help Latinos compete and gain admission to top tier business schools so they can earn their MBAs and I will continue to help more Latinos to position themselves to earn six-figure salaries so they too can possess the financial means to have influence.
I share this approach because this is the only thing I do well that I believe will create an impact. No one will fight our battles. No one is going to create change for us. This is our responsibility. As Latinos, we need to look to ourselves for solutions. This hate will not go away.
I do not have all the answers, but I am smart enough to know that I will figure out a game plan to get this done and execute the shit out of it!
I know I am not alone. I cannot be alone. There are more people like me that will contribute to do their part. The men and women that work in factories, hotels, landscaping, and cleaning need us. These are our parents. These are our family members. I have had a full 24-hours to reflect on this and I say this unapologetically, We Belong Here! Whether you were born here, naturalized here, or you just got here, YOU ARE HERE! This is your country too. This hate will not scare us away! RISE UP, MI GENTE! RISE UP and SEGUIMOS ADELANTE!