Let's Talk New Mexico 12/21 8a: It was a year for hard questions about race, politics and identity. Some folks will tell you it’s because the media and social media are highlighting our divisions. Others will say it’s because national politics are pinned on dog-whistle rhetoric tinged with racism and xenophobia.
National policies have come down that affect Muslim-Americans, refugees and immigrants. DACA was ended. President Donald Trump still says a border wall is top priority.
Culturally, we’ve also seen a rise in white nationalism and white supremacy.
But there are also folks who will tell you 2017 is nothing new, and this country has always been racially divided. And it’s always influenced policy, either subtly or outright.
We're spending the hour with host Sarah Gustavus and KUNM reporter Marisa Demarco looking back at some of these stories and how New Mexico dealt with them.
Stories Featured In The Show
KUNM's Sarah Trujillo, Victor Onimole, Melorie Begay and Elaine Baumgartel interviewed people on the street about how this racially and culturally charged year affected their lives.
Santiago Herrera I think it’s much more racially charged than before. And I think in New Mexico, how it affects New Mexico, it affects it the same way it does the rest of the country. Here, especially here in New Mexico, we are truly a melting pot. There’s so many different races here. And I don’t ever think I ever felt racism in this town, but it seems like that’s changing than what it used to be when I was growing up. When we didn’t hear from all the white nationalists, everybody just kind of assumed it was gone. And now it’s here, and it’s everywhere. If you see it, say something, do something. Because it exists, and the more we just try to act like everything’s perfect, it just continues to grow.
Troy Ward I’m finishing law school, and I’m here turning in my application for the New Mexico bar exam. I don’t think they’re more racially charged than they were. I think they’re more negatively charged than they were before the election of Donald Trump. I mean like physical violence and people acting out these racist ideals and attitudes. I haven’t seen anything personally. Of course the media is full of racially charged violence. I think the two terms of Barack Obama scared white people, to put it bluntly. A certain segment of white people are reacting in this way to try to preserve they think they hold or that they’re going to lose as America changes. I would like to see the current leadership in this country stop trying to charge things racially, you know folks that aren’t necessarily catering to this right-wing, nationalistic stuff. I would like to see a lot more unity there. Get off your butts about the last election and do something positive.
John Peace I do administration work in Albuquerque. I just think we’re moving things back in the right direction. We destroyed things over the last eight years, and we’re correcting course and getting back where we need to be. By dividing people over the last eight years, we’ve basically allowed ourselves, as far as government goes, to control people more and what they think and what they move forward doing. You know I want to get back to the days where we’re all considered Americans before the color of our skin. Because really the color of our skin doesn’t really matter when it comes down to things. We’re all Americans. We’re all here in this together. We should all be treating each other with respect regardless of race, religion, all that stuff.
Christina Manuelito I stay here in Albuquerque, but I’m originally from Tohatchi, New Mexico, which is on the Navajo reservation. I think a lot of it, with all of the stuff that’s going on—the natural disasters and the politics going on—I think we all want to have our separate corners, but I think it really just brings us all together. It’s not us against the white people. We’re all a different color. The reason why it’s so much in the media now is because people want us to be separate and fight against each other, but it’s not doing that. And that’s going to come out. It’s just we have more information at our hands, and people have that at their fingertips with their phones and computers. We have more access. I think that’s all that’s different. As a tribal member, I think a lot of it goes over us, we’re not involved in it, but now that I’m living in a city, yes it does involve us. The homeless people just down the street, they’re of all different colors. I could easily be there, as well as they’re there. You could be there, as well as they’re there. So we need to support each other and not try to step on each other to get to the top. That doesn’t help anybody.
Emil Somerlad I am retired. Look at the election for mayor. Purely a racial thing, I feel, by that percentage of the population that felt that they had to vote the way they did. And the idiot that we’ve got for mayor now that wants to have a sanctuary city, and all of the ilk that comes with sanctuary cities. It’s getting to where families can’t have an honest discussion about all that’s going on without having very serious dialogue. You can’t have a friendly discussion anymore. As growing up, I’m 75, and we could discuss politics. My father was a Democrat—a Roosevelt Democrat during the depression—and we had good discussions. Nowadays, you can’t have that. You can’t. It gets too riled up. If a white male says something, he’s immediately, anti-gay, anti-this, anti-that. You can’t have just a plain opinion about something without being called prejudiced.
Carolyn Reynolds I’m a substitute teacher and a pet-sitter, and I live in Corrales. Well there’s a lot of racial diversity here, for certain, compared to other states. I definitely have a hard time watching the news these days or listening to it, so, I just think that it’s alienating. I think we just saw a group of people on the street on Paseo with a swastika. And it’s alarming. I’m Jewish, so I don’t feel, you know at this point, it’s the same kind of threat as it was in Europe. I think it might be more of threat to people of color, but I really don’t know for sure. But I think it’s terrifying. You know I have a lot of feelings about the idea that people don’t deserve to be here. I feel unless you’re a Native American, you’re an immigrant. Your family immigrated at some point or another, and I think it’s very hypocritical to say that immigrants shouldn’t be welcome. All people have a right to be here and to be safe, so I see that as being threatened, and I’m deeply offended. And also as a white person feel I don’t want to be clumped into the people who behave that way either. I want to support, but I also don’t want to be seen as a villain.
William King I’m retired. I do missionary work. I’m for Trump because he seems like he’s trying to bring God back into our country. I never seen so much lying and hatred. We hate each other. The Democrats hate the Republicans. The Republicans hate the Democrats. The fighting we’re having amongst each other, it’s terrible. There are too many people, even my friends, that I can’t believe that still are prejudiced like that.
Heather Frederickson We own the business, All Sports Trophies. I try to stay away from politics. I have friends on both sides and in between, and I just don’t make our friendships about that. I ignore political posts. I don’t get into arguments with people. I think social media fuels it because you can hide behind a keyboard and a screen. New Mexico I think has always been kind of politically charged in my opinion. Couldn’t really tell you why, just from what you see and hear, even without seeking it out. I think the media fuels a lot of this. A lot of the white supremacists. The Black Lives Matter. The people hating the Black Lives Matter. The people hating the white supremacists. The people hating Hillary Clinton. I think the media fuels it. I think they throw gas on a fire that doesn’t need to be thrown on a fire. Be nice to people. And if someone’s not nice to you, just have the courage and the wherewithal to walk away. You’re not going to change them. They’re not going to change you. You just deal with it. And accept that’s how they are and you don’t have to be their friend. You don’t have to be their enemy. You just … it can be non. We don’t have to hate each other.
Sean Jordan I work in health care. And I do work here in the Downtown area. People need to take responsibility for where they are in their lives and not blame others. Instead of saying, “Well I can’t get anywhere because they give all this to the Hispanics or they give all this to this person.” It’s very divisive. I won’t get political, but our president is a piece of trash, and I am quite embarrassed to be an American and have such a president. I think it really does affect us because everybody needs to learn how to live together and how to proceed together to some sort of better state of living.