President Trump’s recent racist and deplorable comments about Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries have no place in America’s public discourse. We stand with our sister Congresswoman Barbara Lee in calling upon our political leaders, current and retired ones, to have the courage and humanity to name the remarks for what they are—racist and ignorant of both the home countries and immigrants from those countries. Communities across our nation are being revitalized and improved as a result of immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Ghana, Nigeria, Somali, and many others.
Why is it important for America’s political leaders, especially Republicans, to strongly and unequivocally condemn President Trump’s remarks? History has taught us that the enslavement of 12.5 million people from the African continent, the elimination of some 6 million Jewish people in the Holocaust, or the genocide of 100,000 Bosnian Muslims and Croatians began with the dehumanization of people as “other.” We know that words that denigrate and dehumanize don’t end there. They create the foundation for harmful and racist policy actions like what’s before Congress today with the very dangerous rollback of the Diversity Visa Program that reversed America’s racist immigrant policies. Congresswoman Karen Bass, the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human Rights, hits the mark here.
Throughout my almost 40 years of public service, including twenty-seven in Congress, I had the privilege of bearing witness to our country’s racial justice transformation. From Civil Rights to Divestment from South Africa apartheid to HIV/AIDS relief in the African continent, we have passed bi-partisan laws that said yes to equality and inclusion and yes to our better angels. I had the opportunity to help transform the opinions and positions of my Republican colleagues because we were willing to see one another as fellow Americans. We were willing to have the courage to burden one another with our humanity. We were willing to put the greater needs of America first.
In this time of great division, we need our political leaders to have the courage to lead from their moral center. We celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when we pursue equality and justice for our brothers and sisters at home and around the world.
Let us honor the legacy of Dr. King by speaking up for all of humanity!
Ron Dellums & the Dellums Institute for Social Justice