My Experience with Racism: Obama, Trump, & Biden
How the mindset of the president influences the country.
Growing up I had never experienced racism that was directed towards myself or my family. Sure, there were probably racist people that I had interacted with, but it was never blatantly apparent. All through elementary school, I was surrounded by children and families from all races. Southern California was one of those places where you would see a nice blend of Asian, Hispanic, black, and white populations. The culture was vibrant with the Asian supermarkets, Indian festivals, and authentic Mexican food.
You’re probably thinking that the reason I didn’t experience racism was due to the diversity of my surroundings and location in the country. Although that is a factor, my family had not experienced blatant racism in settings with only white people either.
Fast forward to the summer of 2008 where my family and I moved from LA to Denver. Historically, Colorado is more conservative and less diverse than California, but as an eleven-year-old all I noticed was how open and peaceful Colorado was compared to the hustle and bustle of LA. As middle school started and I got to know my neighbors, I started to notice that I was the only kid of color in the majority of my classes and my surroundings. Thankfully at that time, no one made fun of me for the color of my skin, but more for the awkward stages of puberty I was going through.
2008 was the election year of Obama Vs McCain. As Election Day approached, everyone was talking about how fascinating it would be for Obama to be elected. As I heard Obama speak on TV, I felt like the whole country was one. Obama’s words gave me a feeling of unity and acceptance for all people. This is when I began thinking about what it would mean to have the leader of the country be a person of color; I began to realize the importance of diversity in our country.
People of all colors were friendly, kind, and genuine.
During the eight years Obama was president my family and I did not experience any racism. People of all colors were friendly, kind, and genuine. We never got the sense that someone was pretending to like us, forcing themselves to talk to us, or dismissing us due to our ethnicity. The world felt safe and welcoming. Thus far in my life, I had never felt threatened or discriminated against.
As Obama’s eight years came to an end and the new candidates arose, fear started to creep into my life. I saw Donald Trump’s speeches, how he spoke about women and other ethnicities, and what his character was. I was appalled and convinced that someone with such disregard to Americans was actually going to be a final candidate for the presidency. Honestly, I thought he was running for president as a joke.
Impacts of Trump’s Presidency on my life
On Election Day of 2016 I could not believe that the people of this country had voted for someone who was sexist, misogynistic, and racist. Someone who didn’t believe in scientists who have hard facts on the negative impacts on the human race from global warming. Someone who talked about other people as if he was above all humans. All of this felt like a bad joke in a bad dream.
Immediately after Trump was elected president I began to sense a shift in how I was being treated. Over the four years of his term, I have felt the most racism, sexism, and disrespect from others for no apparent reason. White people looked at me as if I was a specimen. I could feel people dismissing what I had to say and treating me like their inferior. I saw more trump flags and political statements from others on social media that were clearly racist.
It’s like the entire country thought it was okay to treat others like shit just because their president did and got away with it.
People were proud to be racist and sexist. Why? Because the leader of our country, someone people look up to, had a character that was so childish that others looked up to his behavior and adopted it in their lives. Consciously or not, these peoples’ mindsets shifted to become cold and unwelcoming of anyone and any ideas that were not aligned with Trump and his staff. Social Media highlighted every ridiculous statement made by Trump and people created memes about everything. There was no way to escape what was being said by the president. The more absurd Trump’s behavior was, the more people seem to adopt the notion that they can act and say absurd things as well.
Now, four years later:
- Jo Biden has won the 2020 presidency
- Donald Trump is the first president since 1992 who has not been elected a second term in office
- Kamala Harris is the first female and woman of color as a vice president
November 6, 2020: A Day before the final results of Biden VS Trump
I went for an eye checkup in my mask that had writing in Hindi on it. As I waited in the lobby for the doctor to call me in to check my eyes I noticed how happy he was interacting with the patient who was in there before me. She was asking questions about her prescription and expressing her concerns. He answered her questions in detail and sent her on her way.
He seemed like a nice man.
He called me in, but his tone changed pormptly as I was directed to sit down. I noticed his eyes flickered from my mask up to my eyes. Immediately I felt uncomfortable and unwelcome. He began checking my eyes and in less than three minutes he had completed my exam. I expressed some concerns about my eyes, and he completely dismissed everything and said the prescription I currently have makes me see 20/20 and that everything should be fine. I had not been seeing clearly for months and was brushed off completely. I left the exam room, and a young Hispanic man brought me my contacts at the counter.
“He’s something, huh”, he said.
“Yeah he told me everything was normal, but I don’t feel like it is”, I replied,
“He’s like that with some, if you catch my drift’, he explained.
This young man was confirming my suspicions. I’ll never know for sure if my doctor was racist, but my interaction with the young Hispanic man at the clinic and my own experience gives me a strong sense it was.
November 7, 2020: Biden wins the election
Excitement. Relief. Thrill.
I headed to the grocery store, but hesitated to put on my mask with Hindi writing on it. As I debated, I realized I don’t want to be afraid to wear something that represented my culture just because of how others may treat me for it. I wore the mask and completed my shopping. As I sat back in my car and began to head home, a sense of safety, warmth, and acceptance washed over my body. I sensed a shift in myself and others that will occur. I hope our new president and his staff will not divide America in regards to how people are treated.