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In spite of ignorance: Respecting and accepting all

by The Stylus
Tue, Jan 30th 2018 08:35 pm
Trump gets his headlines most weeks by opening his astonishingly large mouth. He pulled another racist move, this time referring to Haiti and African countries as `shithole countries`. Trump once again demonstrated his lack of international grace and diplomatic posture.
Trump gets his headlines most weeks by opening his astonishingly large mouth. He pulled another racist move, this time referring to Haiti and African countries as "shithole countries". Trump once again demonstrated his lack of international grace and diplomatic posture.

About three weeks ago, in a meeting with bipartisan lawmakers attempting to find a compromise on immigration, President Donald Trump asked, “Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here?”, specifically in reference to African countries and countries that are under temporary protection status (TPS). According to CNN, South Carolina GOP Senator Lindsey Graham and Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin proposed that the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery program be cut in half, but that the remaining visas would go to people in underrepresented countries in Africa and countries under TPS, including Haiti. CNN says that after Durbin mentioned Haiti, Trump reportedly asked, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.” 

Trump suggested the United States accept immigrants from countries like Norway instead. 

This all comes just days after Trump said he wanted to end the lottery program completely. CBS News reported that in an hour-long meeting on immigration reform, Trump claimed that the lottery allows countries to give the U.S. “the worst of the worst.”

“They’re not giving you their best names; common sense means they’re not giving you their best names,” Trump said. “They’re giving you people that they don’t want.”

We at The Stylus, and probably most of you reading, understand that this is simply not true. For one, countries themselves do not get to make decisions about who immigrates to the U.S.; and, for two, just because someone is from Haiti or Ghana, for example, does not mean they are “the worst of the worst” or that they are unworthy of U.S. citizenship. We recognize that this is another move by Trump to demonize people of color. We refused to let that happen when Trump said that Mexico was sending us its worst people and we refuse to let happen now.

At The College at Brockport, we have professors and students from all over the world who have come here through our international student program and through traditional  immigration. These people brighten our campus with their diverse thoughts, perspectives and culture. 

In our community at large, in both the Village of Brockport and greater Rochester area, African and Haitian immigrants, as well as their children, are some of our doctors, business owners and lawyers. They are our mothers, fathers and best friends. Some of our current and former members of The Stylus staff are immigrants. The parents and grandparents of our former copy editor Siomara Germain are Haitian immigrants. Had they not been given the opportunity to thrive in this country, we would never have had Germain on staff, who now works  for CNN in Washington, D.C. 

“My 4-year-old brother is living in Haiti, a country Trump has decided to categorize as ‘shithole.’ Yet he doesn’t know the beauty about these people and the coutry,” Germain wrote to in a personal message to The Stylus. “There is so much beauty about Haiti and especially Africa, under the surface ... So, though his comments were hurtful during the first few hours because I had in my head that my family live in a ‘shithole country’, it no longer bothered me. Because he doesn’t know my people. He doesn’t know much about anything and that says more about himself than it does my country and Africa.”

Germain, like countless other Haitian immigrants and their children, work just as hard as, if not harder than, natural-born American citizens. They have goals and aspirations. They are successful and productive members of this country.

 Immigrants and children of immigrants brought and continue to bring their own unique styles of editing, designing and writing to our newspaper. They help diversify the voice of this paper as much as they do this campus. We appreciate them because without them, this campus and its newspaper would be much more dull and monotonous. We refuse to let racism and prejudice erase or minimize their excellence.

CNN reached out to White House spokesperson Raj Shah who did not deny Trump’s “shithole” comment, but instead said in a statement that Trump “is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.” If this is true, then our doors should be wide open to Haitian and African immigrants.

We at The Stylus hope that every single Brockport student feels welcome and accepted. We hope they know that although the President may not recognize their value,  we always will. 

We as students and American citizens may not have a platform like Trump, one that allows him to spew hate and racism unlike ever before, but that does not mean we are voiceless. It is difficult to hear the things that Trump is saying, knowing that most people do not agree with him, but that enough people do. We can and always will be louder than those people. It is our job as intelligent and compassionate Americans to stand up against Trump’s remarks, to speak out against what we know is wrong.

When it comes time to vote in November this year, we need to vote for people who will no longer try to impose racist policies. That is the most important thing we can do. Until then, we must have never-ending conversations about equity and justice, ones that focus on how we can help those affected by racism and how we can continue working to end it. Fighting against racism has been an ongoing war since the formation of this country and we will not stop until there is true freedom and justice for all people, natural-born American citizens and immigrants alike.

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