What it feels like to be told ‘Go back where you came from’

Religion News Service | 7/17/2019 | Staff
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(RNS) — Over the past few days, the president of the United States has publicly announced his racism through a series of tweets targeting four women of color who are first-term members of Congress: Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Besides being a textbook example of racist rhetoric, President Trump’s suggestion that the four women “go back to where you came from” called on white nationalist talking points. You don’t have to be a scholar of religion and race to know this, though that’s what I am. The more relevant expertise I bring to this moment is that I have been targeted by both white supremacists and white nationalists my whole life.

Times - Frequency - Calls - Years - Part

I can’t recall how many times I’ve been told to go back to where I came from. What I do know is that the frequency of these calls has increased in recent years, in part because of what scholars are calling the Trump Effect: the emboldening of people to act and speak on their racist feelings.

I believe part of the uptick also has to do with a logic that is resonating with this same base, the same logic Trump used in his tweets this week: If you are critical of inequities in the U.S., that must mean you’re unhappy here. And if you’re unhappy here, why not go somewhere else.

Words

In other words, go back to where you came from.

Although I’m not surprised to hear Trump openly spew racism, there is something deeply disconcerting to hear such dehumanizing rhetoric coming from the American president. Given the power and influence of his office, what he says does more than just normalize racism in our society – it also sanctions hate.

Parents - US - Punjab - 1970s - Brothers

My parents immigrated to the U.S. from Punjab in the 1970s. My three brothers and I were born and...
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