San Diegans React To President Trump's Racist Remarks
Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego's congressional delegation is speaking out against Donald Trump's racist remarks over the weekend. The president targeted for Congress women of color saying they should go back to where they came from Monday. He even doubled down on those remarks. Now lawmakers are preparing to vote on a house resolution today condemning those comments. So let's talk more about what he said. Go back to where you come from. The phrase has a long racist and xenophobic history in America. Joining me to talk about that is Roberto Hernandez, associate professor of Chicana and Chicano studies at San Diego State University. Roberto, welcome. Thank you. Good morning. Thanks for having me. So where does this racist phrase come from? You know, the exact origins of the phrase are quite exactly known. However, it is one that has existed for a long time that has been used time and again, uh, not just here in the US, but in various countries, typically around, uh, immigration, but not solely. Speaker 1: 00:58 And the, and that's important to make that distinction, right? Because, for example, here in the u s one of the first instances in which it really becomes popularized is actually in the context of, uh, trying to push for free, uh, African American, former enslaved peoples to go back to Africa, right? To go back to west Africa. There's, uh, early beginnings of the American colonization society that ultimately leads to the creation of Liberia. But again, the idea being that, uh, you have to get blacks out of the u s uh, on the one hand, both so that this could remain a white supremacists, white only nation, but also in particular the target was of freed slaves because the idea was if you get rid of them, those that are still in slave do not have an example wish to emulate in terms of seeking freedom. And, you know, of course this isn't anything new. Speaker 1: 01:51 Can you give us some other examples of how it's been used over generations in this country against other immigrants? Yeah. So whether it be some, um, southern European immigrants, eastern European, um, Italians, Irish, I mean, oftentimes just the assumption is newcomers are a problem. They must go. Uh, but again, it's not just solely immigration, right? Uh, say other examples in this country of what we've seen also say for example, during the civil rights movement where both African Americans and others were in the south were arguing for freedom and just this and the assumption was, well, our African-Americans here behave if you're demanding just as you must be an uppity negro from the north, right? So the assumption was get out of the south, you aren't necessarily an outside agitator. Right. And ultimately what this kind of rest upon is the idea that whether it be the south, the u s as a whole, the idea that this society, this nation is perfect already and anyone that necessarily point Saudi criticism, we with the nation, the problem was be with them. Speaker 1: 03:01 And we have a clip that actually speaks to that. President Trump has defended the use of his comments. Here he is at a press conference yesterday at the White House. If you're not happy here, then you can leave. As far as I'm concerned, if you hate our country, if you are not happy here, you can leave. And that's what I say all the time. That's what I said in a tweet, which I guess some people think is controversial. A lot of people love it by the way, given all the variations of the phrase, do they all convey the same meaning? Well, I mean, I think fundamentally I would point to this idea of the theodicy of the state, right? And, and in the case of president Trump and his own, um, narcissistic personality, you know, most of the theodicy of, of himself, right? He thinks himself, God, anyone that critiques him must be the problem. Speaker 1: 03:52 It's important to point that out because this is where then you get these variations from an immigration context to say the civil rights example that I mentioned, or, uh, you know, the American condensation society that ultimately is about preserving the assumed pristine, um, godlike status of the country, the society, the community, the nation would have for you. Do you feel the unders underpinning of this statement or the statement itself is rooted in white supremacy? Yes, definitely. White supremacy, which imagines itself like, God, this is what I'm trying to get at. That underneath white supremacy is these feelings of superiority that likes to imagine it one oneself in this got like a position vis-a-vis the rest of society because of the other communities we live color or otherwise. I'm wondering if anyone has ever used the phrase against you? Oh yeah. Oh, unfortunately is a quite common, you know, I grew up here in San, she drove right near the border. Speaker 1: 04:55 So being near the border, it's, it's not uncommon to hear that. Can you give me a specific example of something someone said to you? Ah, yes. And actually it's a moment that was captured in a documentary called the new world border, uh, which was in 1994 in the midst of the California debate around proposition one 87 we had a group of white nationalists that were busting from out of town and the held a good fences, make good neighbors rally down at the border. And I was there, um, fairly young high school at the time with a goop of counter demonstrators, if you will, uh, against this rally. And this is this perfect moment, this captured in the documentary where this guy, uh, shout said us, uh, go back to the stinking swamps that you came from. You know, and I show that film often in classes and you don't see me in the film, right? Speaker 1: 05:54 But I th afterwards tell the students, you know, that guy that screamed that you'll actually screaming that at me and my sister and a group of people that, that were there as part of this, uh, counter demonstrator group. How did that make you feel? Uh, again, I mean, you could only, it's insulting is racist, but you could only, you can let it affect you, right? Because again, the irony is I come from this land and this is, these are comments that are made out of racism, out of ignorance, uh, out of, you know, we think of the word idiocy in, in idiot is one who is divorced from reality, right? So to me, these are comments made by idiots and you can't let that really affect you. Speaker 2: 06:39 Why do you think these kinds of comments and sentiment heavens Speaker 1: 06:42 do word in, in my work in particular, I look at the creation of nation state borders, uh, and the in sewing national identities and these borders that we erect, not just physical, national, territorial borders, you know, and this idea of build the wall. But that replicates in terms of, uh, of how we build the social borders between humans, between different communities. Right? So I think, I think it has to do with that mentality of, uh, wanting to erect border walls and ultimately, like we were talking earlier, um, superiority and white supremacy. Speaker 2: 07:17 I've been speaking with Roberto Hernandez, associate professor of Chicana and Chicano studies at San Diego State University. Roberto, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for having me.