On Oct. 30th, 2015, an outgoing, friendly 38-year-old woman walked into a Minnesota Applebee’s with her two adult cousins and her four young nieces. As the family—all residents of Minneapolis—sat down in their booth, they continued to talk and laugh while proceeding to order their drinks.
After a short while, the woman realized that a woman at an adjoining table was staring her down. The staring quickly turned into a verbal assault with the woman at the table stating, “In America, we speak English. Go home!”
These comments were made by a 43-year-old white woman named Jodie Burchard-Risch and her husband. And they were being directed to Asma Jama, who was guilty of nothing more than being a Somali-born Muslim woman in a hijab who dared to speak Swahili among her family in an American restaurant.
Despite the fact that she had been a Minneapolis resident since 2000, Burchard-Risch wasn’t interested in letting facts, reason or tolerance haze her xenophobic worldview.
Jama, who refused to be intimidated or coerced by prejudice, confronted Burchard-Risch and a verbal altercation ensued. As the Applebee’s managers removed Burchard-Risch from the establishment, she managed to throw her drink all over Jama and take the heavy, empty beer mug to Jama’s face. Blood immediately began to seep out of the gashes on her face. Jama’s nose was bloodied, her forehead was cut, and her lower lip needed 17 stitches.
Once Burchard-Risch was arrested, she was asked if Jama’s national origin, race or religion had anything to do with her decision to assault her. She simply responded, “Yep.”
Incidents like this have lead many to reference “Trump’s America.” They feel these sorts of overt actions of discrimination, thoughtless violence and bigotry are symptomatic of Trump’s incendiary, racist and intolerant political commentary, but that’s not completely correct.
The problem with #TrumpsAmerica is that it propagates the ideology that xenophobia and bigotry to this extent was ushered in by his ignorance, when the reality is that bigoted savagery is not Trump’s America; it’s traditional America.
— 13TH (@13THFilm) October 12, 2016
To claim that the silent majority’s brutal behavior of minorities is a symptom of Trump is to ignore America’s legacy of systematic oppression against people of different races, different faiths and different sexual orientations/gender identities. What Donald Trump is doing in 2016 is the same thing he did in 1989 when he took out a full-page ad in the Daily News to call for the executions of the Central Park 5; he’s tapping into America’s vein of visceral racism.
The United States of America, a nation built on the slaughter of the indigenous, the slavery of Africans, the restricting of the Chinese and the Japanese and the profiling of Muslims, is not a land influenced by one singular demagogue.
This virulent discrimination isn’t separated by party lines, but something far deeper than that. Here dwells a deep-seeded neurosis that makes an entire group of people believe they are superior based solely on their whiteness. That is not an American affliction—that’s American identity—one that the entire nation will have to deal with and contemplate regardless of who becomes the 45th president of the United States.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site, ThisIsYourConscious.com. He’s author of the book, “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer.” He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.