News & Politics

These Four Racial Incidents Demonstrate How Empowered Bigots Feel in the Trump Era

Racism continues to be emboldened under the current administration.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

During a recent BBC interview, veteran gospel/R&B singer Candi Staton had some troubling things to say about the state of race relations in the U.S. in 2018.

Staton, now 78 and best known for her 1976 hit “Young Hearts, Run Free,” is originally from Alabama and is old enough to remember the days of KKK lynchings and jim crow laws—and Staton told the BBC that “from the White House to the outhouse,” racism is still rampant today. Sadly, her analysis is spot on.

Here are four recent racial incidents that illustrate how empowered bigots are feeling in the Trump era.

1. Petaluma, California Man Berates Neighbors for Playing Latin Music on July 4

Latinos in the U.S. have been celebrating Independence Day for generations, but according to Petaluma, California resident Larry Lappin, those celebrations should only occur in English. On July 4, the family of Ivette Celedon (a third-generation U.S. citizen of Mexican descent) was enjoying some Latin music in their back yard when Lappin, one of their neighbors, angrily confronted them and insisted they had no right to “disrespect my fucking country” by playing Spanish-language music on Independence Day.   

2. Anti-Immigrant Woman Arrested for Abusing Passengers on Rockland County Bus

Brooklyn native Vladimir Philidore was riding a bus in Rockland County, NY near New York City when, on June 30, 57-year-old Anne Marie Messiano began screaming racial slurs and ranting that immigrants need to “go back to your fucking country.” And when she saw that Philidore, who is African-American, was filming her with his smartphone camera, she turned her wrath on him. According to Philidore, Messiano tried to grab and take his smartphone and yelled, “Fuck you, and your n***** fucking people. Okay? Get the fuck out of my country.” Messiano was arrested for disorderly conduct after the bus driver—fearing for passengers’ safety—alerted 911.  

3. Mexican-American Man in L.A. Called “Rapist” and “Drug Dealer” While Working

When Mexican-American Los Angeles resident Esteban Guzman was doing a landscaping job in June, a woman he didn’t know angrily confronted him and told him to “go back to Mexico.” Guzman was interviewed by CNN after his mother filmed the incident with her smartphone, and according to Guzman, the woman echoed President Trump’s rhetoric by calling him a “rapist,” a “drug dealer” and an “animal” simply wbecause he was of Mexican descent. Guzman implied that Trump has helped create a climate of anti-Hispanic feelings, noting that he is a U.S. citizen and asserting, “I’m not that person that the president of the United States says I am.”

4. Trump Supporter Verbally Abuses Spanish Speakers in Manhattan Restaurant

In May, Trump-supporting attorney Aaron Schlossberg angrily went into an anti-immigrant tirade at the Fresh Kitchen in Mid-Town Manhattan when he overheard an employee speaking Spanish with two customers. Schlossberg ranted, “My guess is they’re not documented; so, my next call is to ICE to have each one of them kicked out of my country. If they have the balls to come here and live off of my money—I pay for their welfare, I pay for their ability to be here—the least they can do is speak English.” After a video of the incident went vital, Latino activists protested outside the office building where Schlossberg worked. And when a mariachi band played the Mexican standard “La Cucaracha” at one of the protests, it was dedicated to him.


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Alex Henderson is a news writer at AlterNet and veteran political journalist. His work has also appeared in Salon, Raw Story, Truthdig, National Memo, Philadelphia Weekly, Democratic Underground, L.A. Weekly, MintPress News and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson.