Opinion

From Charlottesville to El Paso: Failing to Fight Racism Will Far Outlast Trump

Two years ago this week, hateful rhetoric turned to violence as white supremacists marched through downtown Charlottesville. The president of the United States legitimized hate that day by suggesting that there were “very fine people” on the side of the supremacists.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago, Trump supporters chanted that the U.S. government should send “send her back” in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar — a U.S. citizen.

And now, one week ago, a domestic terrorist fueled by hatred for immigrants murdered 22 people in El Paso.

These tragic and disturbing events are manifestations of growing anti-American sentiments and racism in our country. New polling data conducted by Change Research and released by our organizations confirms that racism, xenophobia  and resentment toward minority groups are now mainstream characteristics of President Donald Trump’s voting base — signaling an alarming trend in American politics.

The survey explored racial attitudes among 2,028 voters in eleven swing states that are likely to decide the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and found that Trump voters believe that America must “protect and preserve its White European heritage” by a 2 to 1 margin, and 59 percent said they are bothered when they encounter immigrants who speak little or no English.

We have to act now to stop this growing tide and mobilize our communities to fight back. We have to fight racism — not just to beat Trump and win the White House in 2020, but also to fight the long-term effects of white nationalism on our country.

The increase in racist language and attacks across the United States are not surprising when the president of the United States fails to condemn them time and time again. What is surprising to us — who all work at the intersection of justice and politics — is how quickly racist opinions are growing among the electorate in key states that will decide the presidential election next year and for years to come.

The first way we fight the rise of racism this cycle is to recruit more candidates and operatives to run for office and work on political campaigns. America will return to its dark past of legislating racism through public policy if we aren’t putting diverse, anti-racist candidates into office.

Second, we have to invest in and organize black and brown communities this election cycle and beyond. These poll findings demonstrate that some are becoming more vocal in their racism, but we can still stop this vocal minority from becoming a vocal majority if we invest in black and brown communities this election and organize to stomp out racism. We must show up to town halls, protests, and the polls. If we don’t, the president and racists around the country will continue tilting the ideological balance of our politics.

Only 51 percent of registered Latinx voters received any sort of political contact in 2018, but 76 percent of them cast a ballot. More broadly: Approximately 69 percent of Latinx folks voted for Democrats in 2018, nearly reaching presidential election year turnout. We can get Republicans out of office if we increase the number of brown and black people that vote.

However, 15 million Latinx potential voters — nearly half — remain unregistered. They are the single largest demographic through which progressives can grow their base besides young voters.This data makes clear what’s at stake this election, and that there is a vocal majority who are ready to make their voices heard at the ballot box.

It is time to stand up to racism from the president and his supporters, recruit anti-racist candidates and staff and invest in organizing young, black and brown people — and all those that live at the intersections of those identities.

If we don’t, racism will derail our promise of a more perfect union. It will stifle entrepreneurship and growth, prevent us from attracting the world’s talent, and keep killing black and brown people. Our collective failure to stem the racist tide today will far outlast President Trump and impede our potential tomorrow.

Quentin James is the co-founder and executive director of The Collective PAC; María Teresa Kumar is the president and CEO of Voto Latino; Luis Miranda is the chairman of the Latino Victory Fund, and Tamer Mokhtar is a partner at Investing in Us.

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