As a black woman, I’ve been called many things: nigger, ho’, bitch, and, once in Arkansas, a “negress,” which made me laugh. “Whore” doesn’t even begin to scratch the insults that would cause a reaction, much less make me think about it for too long.
It’s been five days since a guy called me that, and I’ve forgotten all but the starkest details about him: the brown streaks in his mostly gray, straggly beard, and the way the creases in his sunburnt skin folded up. And I remember how his whiskey breath burned my nostrils when he called me a “stupid whoremonger” who didn’t know what was best for this country because I said Hillary Clinton is the better presidential candidate.
Honestly, I’m not even concerned about a drunk, white man yelling at me. It’s happened before over a Saints game, so I’m not surprised it happened over a political conversation. What I’m more concerned about is what this presidential campaign has done: made America even less of a safe space for minorities and more of a safe space for bigots.
Republican nominee Donald Trump and his campaign bear much of the blame. Bigots have always found a platform to speak and act out. The Ku Klux Klan and David Duke are still alive and kicking. Social media allow ignorance to spread within seconds. Men typically shout over women on news talk shows. However, Trump’s campaign has made it okay to say anything about anyone, truth or not. He says the Second Amendment makes it okay to threaten someone with a gun. “If she [Clinton] gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said in reference to U.S. Supreme Court vacancies. “Although the Second Amendment people— maybe there is, I don’t know.” His supporters cheered.
In a country where Trayvon Martin was murdered by someone exercising his Second Amendment right, I don’t find Trump’s comment funny at all. There were times I was afraid that someone carrying a gun would use it and the Second Amendment against me if I made the wrong move.
Trump also enforces negative stereotypes about people of color. He frequently says most black people live in violent, poverty-riddled inner cities. He’s said Mexicans—not Latinos, as they prefer—are illegal aliens who are rapists and criminals and drug dealers.
I grew up in a rural town surrounded by sugarcane and farm lands. I never saw an “inner city” until I moved to New Orleans to attend Xavier. Growing up across from the street from a sugarcane field meant Latin Americans worked it—and, often times, when I was young, they would stop to speak to me and make me laugh. I did not experience the people Trump insists they are.
A recently released video has Trump doing what it also does best: putting down women. The 2005 recording captures Trump bragging that he takes whatever he wants from a woman because he is a celebrity. He can kiss a woman or “grab her by the p****.”
The problem isn’t only with Trump being a racist and sexist. It’s with someone in his position saying these things and encouraging others to do the same, like a total stranger who thought it was perfectly okay to put his finger in my face and call me a “stupid whoremonger” because I said I prefer Hillary Clinton—and not a racist, sexist pig.