Last Friday, a fellow activist and I hung two giant signs off of an I10 overpass in downtown El Paso. The signs read “NO TRUMP” and “NO KKK, NO FASCIST USA”.
The signs hung for about two hours before they were removed and received no news coverage from any major news station in El Paso. With that said, I decided it was my moral duty to write about what lead to our decision to hang these messages on the freeway.
As an activist, I have felt a sort of moral obligation to use my voice and different outlets in an attempt to give voice to those who don’t have one. As a Latinx university student working on my sociology degree, I have been granted many opportunities that so many others could only dream of having.
I recently spent a couple of months living in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where I got to see first-hand who these people, that Donald Trump so openly puts down, really are. I got to live in the country that “sends over their criminals, rapists, and drug dealers” and attempt to understand what exactly it was about these people that offended Donald Trump so much.
My search for answers left me with more questions. In my experience, I learned that, like most Americans, Juarenses simply wanted a better life for themselves and their families.
Upon moving back to El Paso, it seems that the political climate of our country is reaching a state of unrest and division of monumental proportions.
As I settled back into life back in the states, I realized how indifferent so many people were about life outside of their own comfort zones. So many just shrugged off the cruel events across the country because it was more comfortable to ignore the reality of what our country had become.
After the white supremacy rally in Charlottesville – and I use the words white supremacy because I refuse to tip-toe around this term like many others – the ‘alt right’ doesn’t exist. Using a different word for white supremacists and Neo-Nazis doesn’t make them any less of these things.
In any event, after Charlottesville, I expected uproar. Especially in a border city where the vast majority of people here are Hispanic; instead, I was greeted by a crippling silence from the masses in El Paso.
I didn’t understand how people were so indifferent and unaffected, and then I suddenly came to a realization.
Because the majority here is Hispanic, people are lucky enough to live in a sort of Utopian state of delusion where they believe that racism doesn’t exist here because here, there are no white cops shooting down little black and brown boys. There are no KKK rallies or neo-Nazis waving Nazi flags in your face.
And because this discomfort does not exist here, people shut their eyes to the reality that our brothers outside of this city face. But that? That is racism. That is the very foundation that systematic racism stands on and the very foundation that allows these problems to continue existing.
Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Justice only exists if it exists for us ALL.
On Friday, a fellow activist and I hung those signs on I10 to remind El Paso that we too must continue to resist. We must stand with those victims that got run over in Charlottesville. We must reject this idea that naming streets after Confederate soldiers is a part of history to be proud of.
We must reject the idea that Nazis and KKK members deserve rights in this country. And lastly, we must reject the idea that what’s happening in this country right now is normal. RESIST ideologies of hate and the perpetuation of racism and white supremacy.
Continue resisting El Paso.
Guest Contributor: Chandelier Kahlo
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was mistakenly labeled as a ‘Staff Report’ when originally published, rather than a ‘Guest Columnist’ contribution; the label has since been corrected. We apologize for any confusion.