Mental Health Media

Genocide of the American Dream

There are ten stages of genocide. We’re at number 7.

      1. Classification (creating a distinction between “us and them”)

  • Donald Trump ran his 2016 campaign as the president for all Americans. His “Make America Great Again” was especially effective among the Americans who felt silenced and disregarded during the Obama years. Trump supporters say that they like how he doesn’t hold back, how he doesn’t censor himself, that he’s a real dude. They like that he’s a businessman with a dark sense of humor. *These are actual things I’ve heard from Trump supporters.* It’s fair to describe a Trump supporter as someone who is pro-military, pro-war, pro-wall, anti-immigration, anti-womens’ rights, anti-tax, and not always White, though the majority are White and likely to be armed with a tiki torch, an assault rifle, or worse, severe mental issues that are dangerously suppressed. Trump’s MAGA rhetoric further ingrained the political binaries of republican vs. democrat, conservative vs. liberal, right vs. left. Trump has made it okay for covert racists to come out from their Confederate caves. Trump has normalized violence, bigotry, and White Supremacy.

      2. Symbolization (forced identification)

  • Sure, in an expressive sense, people aren’t being forced to identify themselves. However, as soon as he went into Office, Trump signed Executive Order 13769, otherwise known as The Muslim Ban. During this time, 700 travelers were detained, and 60,000 visas were revoked from individuals coming to America via major airports from Iraq, Iran, Lybia, Somalia, Sudan, Seria, and Yemen; they were not at liberty to travel in the same way as travelers from Russia or China. These traveling refugees were singled out and pegged as terrorists because they come from “terror-prone regions with Islamic agendas.” Individuals from the Muslim countries were barred from entering America for 90 days.

      3. Discrimination (which occurs systematically)

  • Where to even begin with this one… systems are not broken; in fact, they’re doing exactly what they were designed to do. Trump, with his administration, his plans, his rhetoric, and his supporters will stay loyal to the systems that keep the poor poor and the rich rich. Trump’s idolization of capitalism means that zip codes will continue to determine the life course of any given student; whether they become successful or fall victim to the cradle-to-prison pipeline. Trump’s idolization of capitalism means that conditions will get better for racketeering insurance companies rather than for sick Americans. Trump’s idolization of capitalism celebrates and encourages people to lift themselves up from their bootstraps even though not everyone has boots. Trump’s idolization of capitalism means that Flint won’t get the clean water they deserve and that the government won’t prioritize a Green New Deal even if the planet is in grave danger. Trump’s idolization of capitalism means that mentally ill individuals, mostly male, will end up imprisoned rather than treated. Trump’s idolization of capitalism means that Millenials will be the first generation to end up worse off than our parents because of the disparity between insurmountable student debt to employment and wage ratios. Trump’s idolization of capitalism provides the opportunity for numerous corporations to compete for the construction of the border wall despite the outright disregard for indigenous land that would be pillaged.

      4. Dehumanization (sub-human, less than)

  • During his 2016 election campaign, Trump referred to Mexicans as rapists. Beginning in April of 2018, Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy goes into effect which prosecutes all adult migrants entering the country illegally through the southern borders. In May of 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen – all of which are speaking on behalf of Trump – defend the separation of families at the southern border as a “necessary evil.” In June of 2018, Trump accused Democrats of encouraging MS-13 animals to migrate illegally to cause more trouble here in America.
  • Further, in a tweet, Trump called for the immediate deportation of these “invaders.” In August of 2018, Trump called Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a dog. Presently, migrants are being kept in concentration camps – otherwise known as detention centers – where 24 individuals have died. They are being held without trial in freezing conditions without sufficient food or water and enough space or adequate materials for sleep. Children who become sick with a minor cold are at risk of dying because of the lack of medication. Basic necessities are not being provided. And this is barely scratching the surface; the life-long effects of trauma will likely haunt victims and hinder their chances to physical and mental wellness.

      5. Organization (police and military set out to enforce policies)

  • June 18, 2018, Homeland Secretary Nielsen said, “We have to do our job. We will not apologize for doing our job,” she says. “This administration has a simple message — If you cross the border illegally, we will prosecute you.” On the Night of Broken Glass in November of 1938 in Germany, the SS police were also just doing their jobs. They were also just following commands. Over 30,000 Jews were transported to concentration camps from just a single raid. By the end of 1945, an estimated six million Jews were exterminated. Hilter’s plan to implement the final solution to the Jewish question was discussed at the Wannsee Conference in 1942, and nothing was done to stop him from following through.

      6. Polarization (propaganda shared to pin groups against each other)

  • Trump’s tweets targetting The Squad are perfect examples; “they should go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.” At a press conference post-tweets, Trump coyly proclaimed, “I didn’t name any names.” He didn’t have to. Using coded language manipulates audiences to make their own inferences and add their own meaning. When Trump called the Tiki Torch White Supremacists, “fine” people, the world knew right away which side he was on. Further, he tweeted that Black athletes that kneel are sons of bitches. Lest we forget the 1989 full-page ad Trump sponsored to BRING THE DEATH PENALTY BACKin the midst of the Central Park Five – now The Exonerated Five – frenzy.

      7.  Preparation (official action to relocate/remove people)

  • We’re here now. Just this past Sunday, July 14, 2019, raids were scheduled to occur in major cities across America in an effort to detain and deport undocumented immigrants with deportation orders. The raids didn’t occur because of the media tip-offs, which resulted in mass activism and advocacy for undocumented immigrants who are now just waiting for the other shoe to drop. ICE Agents have been encouraged to use devious tactics, such as presenting false or unsigned warrants for arrest and linguistic intimidation.

I cannot speak on the experience of undocumented immigrants as I have the privilege of being an American citizen. As such, I can only imagine the perpetual state of anxiety, stress, and fear that they live in.

I can, however, speak on the experience of being a first-generation Latina.

All of this is to say that I am losing my mind.

I feel impotent. Like a lone ant exposed to the bottom of a thumb.

I have become consumed by the plight of political and cultural consciousness, and I’ve lost touch with balance.

It is absolutely crazy-making.

My partner is White. And with all this madness happening right before our eyes, I sometimes grapple with making sense of loving a White man.

Because the political is personal.

Because our experiences are entirely opposite.

Because even if he is well-intentioned, kind, and caring, I find myself teaching him – and his friends – a lot about culture and the like.

Because I’ve been told to go back to where I came from and silenced when I explain that I was literally born at Daniel Freeman Hospital in Inglewood, California, which has now become a luxury housing development thanks to the Rams.

Because my mother and brothers have been called wetbacks and spics.

Because my tenth-grade nephew, who plays varsity football in Austin, Texas, was warned not to kneel again or he’d be removed from the team.

Because we’ve all witnessed the outright racist acts of BBQ Becky, Permit Patty, Cornerstore Caroline, and all the police officers who have brutally criminalized and murdered people of color.

On Sunday, July 14, 2019, the same day as the planned ICE raids, I went to a Vulfpeck concert.

I was surrounded by White people, White-passing people, and White-aspiring people.

I became hypervigilant, hyperaware, and had an anxiety attack.

I was equal parts angry, scared, and overwhelmed.

No longer could I enjoy the music because I fixated on the outward free-spiritedness of everyone around me – not a care in the world, what a privilege!

Then in a winded monologue, singer and drummer Theo Katzman praised Los Angeles as the land where dreams are made. Where people [like him] come from all over to this corner of the country to make their dreams come true. He made fun of his jorts and his trucker hat a bit, but the message stayed the same: he wasn’t from here. He made Los Angeles his own for the sake of his dreams. How nice.

But isn’t that what migrants want to do as well?

Why is it that people of color who cross borders are labeled as immigrants, while White people who cross borders are labeled transplants or expats?

How come White people can move into low-income neighborhoods, gentrify the shit out of them, and then have the audacity to complain about Los Angeles?

As Trump said, they should go back and help fix the … places from which they came.”

But that’s racist and what Trump said, has said, and likely will said, is all trash.

All in all, I don’t know what to do with all this.

As a school social worker, I am dedicated to improving the educational experience and attainment, both academic and socioemotional, for my students.

I care about social justice, advocacy, activism, all the -isms, literacy, artivism, expression, exploration. I care so so so so much.

But am I the only feeling this way?

Can anyone tell me, guide me, in figuring out what to do with all this?

 

Cover Photo by Brittani Burns on Unsplash

Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

Born & raised in Inglewood, CA, Angela combines her education and life experience of community inequity, family violence, and mental illness to de-stigmatize mental health.