"America is better than this" - Tino Barragan weighs in on the election

Atlanta Donald Trump supports cheer him on during an October 21st campaign stop in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. (photo by Justin Merriman)

By Tino Barragan | @TinoBarragan

I can feel racial tensions growing by the day when in reality classism is what’s tearing America apart. People in America are fed up and are screaming for change. I want change too. I’m tired of status quo across the board. I want to see better plans of action with illegal immigration, an inadequate educational system, income inequality, healthcare, the tax system, climate change, the voting process, police/community relations and more. However, we have to be careful of who we stand with and at what costs.

America can’t just settle for the first person that represents a different option especially when they are as terribly under qualified, divisive, and offensive as Donald Trump. I won’t dive into all my opinions of Trump regarding sexism, his character, or business practices. I won’t dive into the fact I don’t believe for one second he’ll change a system that has benefited him all his life, the same system that benefits his children and peers. I’m only going to address one of the messages Trump’s campaign is spreading.

Trump’s tone, delivery, and generalized statements towards Mexicans have definitely felt racist to me. When he speaks about Mexicans or Latinos crossing the Mexican/American border, he never speaks about the ways they have contributed to this country. There's never a positive message. “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.” That last sentence is the kindest he's spoken of Mexicans except for when he was in Mexico where his message and demeanor changed dramatically. I would have actually respected Trump more if he had stayed true to his harmful delivery instead of speaking with his tail between his legs when standing in front of the people he consistently verbally attacks. Within 12 hours he was in Arizona back to his chest thumping, hate promoting ways. Some people are clinging to his every word with utter devotion. Now think about everything he has said up until this point. Do you see the problem?

There are so many illegal immigrants crossing the border that are hard-working and kind hearted people. I hear people across the country yelling, “Build That Wall! Build That Wall! Build That Wall!” Somehow we’ve dramatically intensified the negative views regarding Latinos and especially Mexicans coming to America illegally. That also affects the way American Mexicans have been viewed. Many people in this country aren’t differentiating between the two. The chants are getting louder. Living in diversified California can make a person forget how unnecessarily divided this country can be in regards to race relations. I was born in America. But I also have family and friends who were not born in the states. Many of the people who weren’t born here have gained citizenship creating a better life for themselves and their families. Some have stayed illegally while doing the same. Those dreams that were accomplished have been totally diminished in the blink of an eye. Why? Is it because they did what this country is supposed to represent? Is it because they did what the ancestors of the people yelling, “Build that wall” have done in the past?

When Trump talks about human beings coming over the border he's talking about people in my family. He’s talking about numerous friends of mine and their families. Yes it's true that criminals do cross over and that is a problem. That criminal element turned my life upside down in more ways than one. Yet, I refuse to generalize everybody that enters America illegally just like loving and respectful white people don’t want us generalizing them. I know differently. I've lived differently. I've seen different than what Trump is talking about. We all have at one point whether we know it or not. Some of the people I love and trust most in this world are Mexican, Irish, African American, German, Chinese, Japanese, Bolivian, Italian, etc… I can say with all confidence that I respect and care about all people until they prove otherwise. Some of the discriminatory and racial comments I grew up hearing (and even saying at times) in school, in public, on TV, or wherever, are no longer in my vocabulary or thought process. I’ve got my share of issues. But hateful feelings fueled by race isn’t one of them.

Short and sweet, I do believe that we need to do something about America’s illegal immigration issue. I believe we should commit to immediate amnesty. I don’t want to keep bailing illegal immigrants out with amnesty moving forward. I’m open to a plan that would deport illegal immigrants that are criminals with certain tiers of criminal activity mapped out. I don’t want to ruin someone’s life for smoking pot. Let’s tighten up all boarders and address the people over staying their visas. Protecting Syrian refugees is America’s duty while protecting American citizens at the same time. The Illegal immigration issue is not as simple as I’m making it out to be. It also doesn’t have to be so ugly. We need a plan that is achievable and fair all around. A plan that is firm yet considerate of human rights. A transparent plan that represents the foundation America was built on while accounting for a new era that cannot carelessly allow open borders.

Even if building the wall is the best option, there has to be a way to address all borders and all races with integrity and understanding. Trump’s delivery about the wall is all wrong and is promoting racist behavior. Every border has its own challenge. Every group deserves respect. The harmful message being delivered by Trump includes the implementation of roundups. How else would you deport 11 million people? Are we going to single out white people to catch illegal Europeans or Canadians? Are we going to single out Asians or Indians? Muslims as a whole have been spoken of very harshly. Where does it start and end? If Trump gets his way, Mexicans will be one of the first groups targeted. He's not just talking about the criminals. He’s talking about breaking up families too. I would be prepared to stand up against any type of roundup movement. America has come too far for that to happen. Too many good people would be treated unfairly and with absolute discrimination. Nope, not going to happen in 2016 and beyond. Brothers and sister of all races and genders would join together to stop this madness. We’d have to stand up together, right?

So how are we supposed to view Americans supporting Trump considering how offensive and disappointing his message is? Well, everyone has a story and they’re all equally important. The truth is, there are a lot of middle class and poor white people (among others of course) supporting Trump that I will never encounter. People of all races are struggling in this economy. High paying jobs are being created in established markets and areas where gentrification is taking place. So while unemployment is better, many struggling communities of all demographics aren’t feeling the growth. I can’t help but to feel like that is where a lot of the anger and pain is originating from.

To the Trump supporters who are common everyday folk lashing out at people that look like me, you and I have more in common than you ever will with a man like him. My friends and family that came over illegally have more in common with you than Trump ever will. I care about your future. I care about your children’s future. I would never support anyone continuously disrespecting you or your families. Why? It just wouldn’t be right. One day you may realize those facts. One day the majority, regardless of color or gender, will wake up and welcome the fact that we all have more in common than we’ve been willing to admit. We’ll rise up against corruption and the puppeteers pulling the strings that are holding this country back. Awareness is at an all time high. Now we have to catapult that awareness into action by looking in the mirror and accepting all our differences because we really do have so much in common. We aren’t that far away from turning the corner. I know it doesn’t feel that way right now. I’m hoping America is just fed up and needed to vent. That frustration cannot allow America to move backwards though.

We live in a different time. We have not adapted as a country to those changing times. America is the land of opportunity. But the system needs an overhaul and millions of people see it. When problems are addressed by the people, we’re often times dismissed and told that we should just be grateful and thankful for what we have. We’re told that we’re lucky to live in America and that is true. But the economic gaps are widening at alarming rates and it’s causing division amongst Americans to increase more and more every day. The feelings of anger and frustration are misguided. Trump represents a harmful message disguised as patriotism that is crippling positive change and making it harder to address universal issues holding back this proud country. We’ve come too far as a nation to allow that to happen.

America is better than what we’re showing right now. It’s never too late to change a mentality. We are the vocal majority if we stand together and respect each other’s differences. That includes people of all races, classes, genders, as well as people in the1% that support true equality. There has to be a happy place where the rich don’t feel attacked and the rest don’t feel left behind. As the country improves economically, we can adjust our policies to reflect those improvements. Politicians work for the people. Greedy blue and red politicians and the special interest groups controlling them are feeling the heat right now because Americans are calling out the obvious corruption more than we have in a really long time. Divisiveness and distraction is exactly what status quo and corruption wants. Our fight for change is with them, not each other. I got your back if you got mine. End classism. End racism. We are the vocal majority.