The "Trump Effect"

By Nico Tuccillo (Concerned Human)

Although crudely named, the so-called “Trump Effect” has been well documented in schools and groups of people across the nation. This phenomenon is characterized by increased hostility between individuals of opposing political views, “heightened anxiety” in the classroom setting and a spike in “concern” for how this new administration will affect the lives of many of us, our families and our fellow citizens. 

    For example, a survey answered by over 10,000 teachers and counselors across the country has provided some chilling data. “Ninety percent” of these educators report destabilization of the school environment. Incidents of “verbal harassment, the use of slurs or derogatory language such as ‘Trump won, you’re going back to Mexico!,’ and disturbing incidents involving swastikas, Nazi salutes and Confederate flags” are on the rise. Furthermore, many of these educators made it clear that they are of the opinion these changes are a “direct result of the 2016 election,” and I am inclined to agree, especially given my own, personal interactions with the “Trump Effect.” Recently at my high school, during a girls basketball game against a school from Hartford, CT (a team whose members are nearly all black), a contingent of home team supporters began harassing the visiting team with chants of “Trump!,” “We pay for your food stamps,” “Go back to your country,” and so on. 

    It is important for us to be very, very clear about what is going on here, and what the “Trump Effect” really indicates. A direct result of Donald Trump’s political victory is a sharp, palpable increase in racist, xenophobic rhetoric. That is undeniable. Notice this does not therefore insinuate that Donald Trump supporters are racist or xenophobic, that is not what this means. However, it undoubtedly insinuates that many of his supporters are racist and xenophobic, and that they are emboldened by him to act on these feelings. To deny that Donald Trump emboldens racists is to deny the reality of his presidency, the reality of a significant percentage of Americans and their attitudes towards others. And it is no rouge fact that our nation has troubles with prejudice.

    African Americans are twice as likely to be arrested for drug offenses (37%) than what their slice of the population pie (13%) suggests. 80% of stop and frisks in cities like New York fall on blacks and Latinos. In addition to these problems which directly affect minorities and immigrants, there are others which indirectly contribute. Adjusted for population percentages, almost double the amount of whites indicate that they spend most to all of their time around other whites than do blacks or Latinos, the latter two reporting much more diverse settings. We are in many ways a racially charged nation, where significant numbers of our citizens either hardly interact with, or actively discriminate against others, with the vast majority of this behavior being directed at minorities. I am often asked why I harbor a certain amount of distaste for anyone I know to have voted for Donald Trump. In general, that is a good question to ask, and in general, there are usually no good answers. It is often dangerous to form an opinion on a group of individuals as a whole, most of whom you do not know personally. Yet in this case, there is something very important to know about every Donald Trump supporter. They are either 1) someone who actively feeds off of Trump’s encouragement of racist and xenophobic tendencies, like those individuals at my school, or 2) someone for whom this phenomenon does not dissuade them from supporting Donald Trump. Put another way, Trump supporters are either racist themselves, or apathetic enough to be willing to ignore the “Trump Effect.” By supporting Donald Trump, people are making the definitive statement that they are comfortable enough with this train of thought that it does not drive them away, since Trump is indeed a conduit for racism and prejudice. 

    This to me is more important than any policy stance one may agree or disagree with concerning Trump, because racism is not policy. I find, we all should find, racism in any form to be completely unforgivable. I can therefore not look at someone who supports a racist man like I do someone who supports lower taxes or clean energy or abortion or anything else -- differing opinions on all of those issues are possible because they each don’t constitute a moral sickness as racism does. In essence, the “Trump Effect” is has a revelatory nature where it brings forth both those racist themselves and comfortable with racism at the helm of the nation, both of which I find equally abhorrent. 

    We are at a point in our nation’s history where blatant discriminatory rhetoric is causing real pains for millions of our fellow citizens. Donald Trump’s travel bans, his delayed refusals to disavow support from white supremacists and bomb threats against Jewish centers, and the very recent decision of the Attorney General’s office to enact legislation against sanctuary cities is proof of this. There is no denying it. The “Trump Effect” is encouraging many of our kids to expound more freely racist tendencies given to them by their parents, encouraging those who were once fringe voices to make a mainstream grab. Regardless of what you think politically, regardless of your personal stands on the issues, we together must delegitimize Donald Trump’s agenda because it is built upon a foundation of division. There is no excuse for black high school teens to be racially taunted by white ones in a Connecticut high school. There is no excuse for Jewish cemeteries to be defaced and destroyed. These are the actions of only a few people, but they are made possible by the words of one man, and, if we don’t all disown him, they will never end. One way to help is by visiting this website, https://www.dosomething.org/us, where you can learn about the discrimination in this country and how and where to donate or volunteer your money or time to help. We cannot let the “Trump Effect” evolve, we cannot let hate persist, because in the end it burns everything. 

Sources: https://www.splcenter.org/20161128/trump-effect-impact-2016-presidential-election-our-nations-schools
https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-racial-discrimination

*Here's one way author Nico Tuccillo suggests you can get involved: Dosomething.org

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