Elijah Natividad Pantoja
Contributing Author (Pitzer 2018)
Yesterday, I was the personal victim of a hate crime that also targeted marginalized groups in general on Pitzer’s campus. Yesterday, for the first time, my self-worth was forcefully questioned. Yesterday, the Pitzer POC community was failed by the greater Pitzer community. Yesterday, I labelled the vandalism as a hate crime.
Today, I was quoted in an article denouncing my response as an attack on free speech and attempting to silence political opposition. Today, I am processing how the Claremont Independent can label the illegal defacing of a permanent piece of art on Pitzer’s campus as simply a political message. Today, the Claremont Independent wrote it off as a continuation of, “The Chalkening”, an attempt by students of color to silence Trump supporters. Today, the vandalism remains for all marginalized communities to walk by on their way to study, eat, and relax.
Tomorrow, I will attend my Race, Violence, and the Law class where I will learn how the experience of the past two days is as common as it is tragic. Tomorrow, the Claremont Independent will not address this response to their abhorrent article.
Tomorrow, the school will release a contrived statement on the lack of “social responsibility” the individuals who committed this hate crime have expressed. Tomorrow, Campus Safety will not have followed up with a police report because our lives don’t matter.
My thoughts and opinions are not challenged by Trump supporters; they are ignored as I am labelled as nothing more than a murderer. A rapist. A drug dealer. The Trump campaign is not political. It is a revival of overt and explicit white supremacy. Debate me on how high taxes should be, what the minimum wage should be set at, how to interpret the Constitution. Do not debate whether I’m going to catcall your female family members, do not debate whether I am taking a job from a white American, do not debate whether I was accepted into Pitzer College based on a diversity quota. I refuse to accept those questions as means for healthy political debate.
I will not be intimidated by those who attempt to strike fear into my heart. I will speak out against those who have committed hate crimes against my individual, and my community.
When your body shakes and your heart pangs, you are not reacting to a political message. What I experienced yesterday was something I had yet to understand. Never have I felt threatened by words, until yesterday. My body shook, my heart panged. I understand now, the struggles of students at Emory, at Scripps, and at Michigan. To have others wave off your fear and hurt as an attempt to silence the bigotry of Trump supporters is something no one should have to experience.
Yesterday, I stood alone. Today, I ask family and strangers, Democrats and Republicans, friends and foes, students and alumni, to stand with me in support and solidarity for those who feel and have felt terrorized by individuals who plague campuses with support for the Trump campaign. Many people have spoken out against this, but it will take those who have remained on the sidelines and silent to end hatred, bigotry, and prejudice on our campuses and in general. Tomorrow, the direction we take will be decided by the voices who speak out against the hate we’ve experienced.