Latinos were among those stunned to learn the results of the past election. An unqualified, clownish, and sexist reality TV host will ascend to the White House. Trump manipulated longstanding resentments and economic insecurities, blaming immigrants, Blacks, the LGBT community, and those in Latin America for the dislocation of US workers and deteriorating economic and social conditions. Racism and right-wing nationalism, central to Trump’s campaign, will become official ideology evidenced by the appointment of Breitbart’s Steve Bannon as Trump’s chief strategist.
Not surprisingly, Trumps’ empty promise to address the economic insecurities of the middle classes and “Make America Great Again,” is quickly spiraling into a billionaire boondoggle with the installation of the financial elite or their representatives to major posts: the fumbling Rick Perry to a department he threatened to eliminate and whose name escaped him during presidential debates (Energy Department); Andrew Puzder, an anti-union CEO to the Department of Labor, and Betsy DeVos, an enemy of public education, to the Department of Education. The most extreme sector of the Republican rightwing will become key figures in the new administration.
The tendency of the mainstream media will be to attempt to normalize Trump’s regime, prioritizing access and industry profits rather than act as a check on power and hold Trump accountable to some semblance of truth. The Korean American journalist Jay Caspian Kang predicts major mainstream outlets will soon begin reducing their “identity politics writers” for those who can represent Trump well to the general public (Kang Blog). In addition, Washington loyalists and a growing segment of the political establishment will uphold the validity of a tattered democratic system. Their defense of the status quo is meant to inspire acquiescence and political conformity exactly when what is necessary is active resistance.
Soon more public dollars will begin shifting toward private concerns, supporting corporate and banking interests at the expense of the general good. Tax cuts for the wealthy will increase pressures to cut healthcare, privatize Medicare, and reduce Social Security benefits. Increased military spending will swell the national debt and lead to reductions in social spending including unemployment and food stamps while limiting attempts to stimulate job creation. Continuing federal reductions in aid to the states will result in less support for education and local calls to reduce minority initiatives.
Latinos have much at stake and more to lose. The future of DACA is unclear. However, a Trump administration will undoubtedly act as a deterrent to access for undocumented students. Increased deportations will result in more divided families. Financial assistance to college students will diminish while profit-oriented approaches to education will weaken commitment to neighborhood schools and limit postsecondary access to those with fewer resources. More students will be caught in the vice of spiraling educational costs and the long-term negative effects of college debt.
What is necessary is not conformity but leadership, organization, and popular mobilization. ILACHE is our voice in higher education. It is through our collective actions that we must continue to promote our agenda of access, equality of opportunity, and community advancement. ILACHE seeks to collaborate with others who reject Trump’s message of xenophobia and hate. The election signals the need to expand our alliances and build broad coalitions that can advance a democratic and inclusive vision of social justice.
We ask that you become an active member of our educational community. This is not a time to retreat but to double our efforts in support of students, families, and communities.