President Donald Trump’s racist interactions with the people of Puerto Rico and his lack of concern for their well-being demonstrate his inability to connect with the people of the United States, especially if they are people of color.
During a press conference celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, Trump gave another unsurprising, but equally disgusting, racist speech mentioning Puerto Rico.
The president mocked Latinx during a speech celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month when he said Puerto Rico twice in an over-exaggerated Hispanic accent, prompting laughter. He then corrected his Hispanic accented “Puerto Rico” with his natural accent.
Trump uses a Spanish accent to say "Puerto Rico" twice during a Hispanic Heritage Month event pic.twitter.com/v5qFTiqSjM— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) October 6, 2017
Make no mistake; this was not the president’s attempt at pronouncing Puerto Rico in an accent that is respectful of their culture. His mannerisms make that very clear.
Trump waits for a response; it is obviously a joke. He’s mocking Puerto Ricans and their accents, further alienating their people and separating their plights from one that is “American.”
In Jane Hill’s sociological study, she notes that when a dominant, Anglo group mocks Spanish language or Spanish accents, they’re reinforcing a sense of humor, and the superiority of “whiteness.” Not only that, they’re further alienating Spanish-speakers from American society.
That’s exactly what Trump did in his speech that was meant to celebrate Hispanics. Instead, he mocked their language, their people, and their culture, and ultimately their place in the United States. Not to mention, Trump doesn’t exactly have a strong history with the Latinx population in the United States. He started his presidential campaign by stating that when Mexico sends their people to the U.S., “they’re not sending their best.”
At a time when Trump should have been healing the divide he’s created between his administration and the Latinx population in the United States, he degraded their language, and ultimately the people themselves.
He masks his racism with humor, and of course, there are people that will say, “Why can’t you take a joke?” That though, is essentially why it is so racist in the first place. By masking the mocking with humor, Trump is essentially making it OK to make fun of the Spanish language, and thus the people associated with that language.
This coupled with his gross disregard for the suffering that Puerto Rico is currently facing is appalling.
Students and staff at Ponce Health Sciences University are visiting people in the hardest-hit communities in Puerto Rico to provide psychological help, Alex Ruiz, special assistant to the university’s president, told CBS News.
"People's whole worlds were taken from them," Ruiz said. "People will need the proper psychological help to get through this."
The Puerto Rican people are facing extreme power outages, lack of air conditioning, poor road conditions, and flooding – they’ve lost everything, and as American citizens, they deserve more.
When a president mocks a marginalized group on national television and gets a laugh, it’s a sign that our nation is perhaps more troubled than we originally thought.
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters, Kevin Lamarque