By Kica Matos and Sam Fulwood III
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was recently asked to speculate about his political future. ''I have no idea,'' he stated. ''But I'm here now. And it's beautiful."
"Beautiful" is not the word most people of color would use to describe the climate that Trump has created, nor to the policies that he has threatened to implement if elected president. It is not beautiful for the millions of Mexican and Latino immigrants that he has grossly discounted, belittled and demonized. Nor for the Asian American community; Trump, as a candidate for the highest office in the land, has consistently mocked Chinese people as "sneaky," playing to historic anti-Asian tropes.
The moment is not beautiful for those who believe Black Lives Matter and who are described by Trump as "trouble," or for the black community for whom Trump claims "laziness is a trait." It is certainly not a beautiful moment for the Muslim community, who has been mischaracterized and labeled as a "problem" by Trump. Nor for the millions of displaced Syrian and North African refugees who have enough to worry about without having to be disparaged by a top GOP candidate and threatened with expulsion back to conditions Trump described previously as akin to "living in hell."
Despite the antics of Stephen Colbert and other late-night television hosts, the joke that once was Trump's candidacy has moved beyond comedy and long stopped being funny. With SNL failing to "dump Trump" as its host this past weekend, we have to ask who in our country is in the position to laugh off racism and who must exist with the reality and violence of it every day.
The GOP's poll-topping candidate (until Ben Carson recently took the lead using his own style of bigoted politics) has created fear, revulsion and disgust among many people of color.
Looking at Trump's most recent use of racist and offensive imagery towards Jeb Bush, which included a mockery of Mariachi culture, lets us know that this candidate is not shying away from using racism as a central tool in building his platform. In the short time that he's mounted his vile and divisive campaign, Trump's openly racist agenda has created a notably toxic and xenophobic climate among Americans.
He has become the candidate of choice among white nationalists, energizing and giving a veneer of political legitimacy to their reprehensible views. If unchecked, Trump's politics have the real possibility of creating even more racial strife. Indeed, there is a growing list of documented incidents of racialized violence created by his candidacy and his words -- from the viscous assault of a Latino homeless man by Trump supporters in Boston, to "white power" chants at a Trump rally to hostile acts directed towards Latino activists.
Trump's slogan, "Make America Great Again", does not align at all with his rhetoric or political agenda. His campaign slogan should instead offer, "Make America White Again." That's the subtext to his message, appealing to those that pine for a return to the days when discriminatory laws, openly bigoted politics, racial violence, and a culture of hate and cruelty were tolerated when directed at people of color.
Ultimately, Trump's presidential aspirations are doomed. Even if he were to defy the odds and win the Republican primary, his contempt for people of color will ultimately be his downfall. Conventional wisdom holds that in order to win, the Republican candidate will need an estimated 42- 47 percent of the Latino vote -- something Trump is unlikely to achieve. Latinos voters, in particular, are highly unlikely to support Trump, as current polls suggest he has negativity ratings at 72 percent or higher. A whopping 79 percent of African Americans view Trump unfavorably. Moreover, his candidacy has energized voters of color in a phenomenal way, making it easier for civic engagement organizers to do voter outreach work.
Although some Republican candidates have attempted to distance themselves from Trump's antics, their campaigns have undoubtedly been influenced by his extremism. Bobby Jindal and Jeb Bush echoed Trump's use of the offensive term "anchor baby" to refer to children born in the United States to immigrant parents. Ben Carson touted his belief that a Muslim should not be president following Trump's failure to correct a supporter's false assertion of Obama's religion. Bobby Jindal echoed disproven lies that there are "no go" Muslim-only zones in European cities and went further to say that immigrants "want to overturn our culture, they want to come in and almost colonize our countries." Marco Rubio, looking to appear tougher on immigration, recently said he would end DACA -- the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program -- instantly putting over 700,000 young immigrants raised in the U.S. in line for deportation to countries they do not know.
In a nation that's undergoing rapid and historic demographic change, just who do conservative politicians expect to support them, if they insist upon supporting the rhetoric and policies that alienate the growing communities of color? It's a fool's gambit of a political strategy.
Those of us who care about the future of our country must use this moment to agitate and galvanize our communities, pushing back against the prevailing narrative that is being shaped and led by Trump and other Republican candidates who engage in race-baiting and racist political appeals. We must hijack this moment of division that Trump and his ilk present to us. We must re-purpose their efforts for our nation's collective unity, guaranteeing that we all play a role toward eliminating the breeding grounds for the ugly hate that lies within figures like Donald Trump.
Kica Matos is the Director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice at the Center for Community Change Action (CCCAction).
Sam Fulwood III is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, where he analyzes the influence of national politics and domestic policies on communities of color across the United States.
Whitney Shepard, Racial Justice Coordinator for CCCAction, contributed to this article.