Our Anxiety Of A Trump Presidency – Nigerians In The US Laments
Nigerians in the United States speak to Gboyega Alaka on their fears and anxiety come January, when Donald Trump will be sworn in as the country’s the 45th president.
Barely hours after American real estate mogul and Republican Party candidate, Donald Trump, was declared winner of the November 8 presidential election, an immigrant American Muslim, Maha Abdul Gawad wrote on her facebook wall:
“My first racist encounter after our new joke of a president. As I am (sic) at Wallmart today, a woman came up to me and pulled my hijab off and said, “This is not allowed anymore, so go hang yourself with it around your neck not on your head.”I am traumatized”
Another Muslim Student at San Jose University narrated to the police how a man attacked her from behind at a campus parking garage, pulling at her hijab and chocking her.
At San Diego University, California, another Muslim woman was reportedly followed by two men, who made comments about Trump and the Muslims before robbing her of purse and car keys.
Pockets of other incidences of harassment against Latinos and Africans have also been reported, inevitably heightening the fears most immigrants and Muslims had nursed about a possible Trump victory. It also gave a glimpse into what to expect, should things actually deteriorate.
President-elect, Donald Trump had ridden to victory against all odds, on what many have termed the most racially divisive and volatile electioneering campaign in the history of modern America.
Amongst Nigerian immigrants, the fear has been palpable, especially amongst those whose stay in the country may not be legal, due to expired visas, lack of residence permit and other such legal jargons.
A Nigerian American-born software engineer in Arlington Texas, King Lawrence Owonikoko confirmed that there are xenophobic apprehensions amongst immigrants, insisting that the Republican Party and indeed the white supremacists in the country knew what they were doing, when they voted in Trump, “a white supremacists that is no longer behind the sheets,” as president-elect.
He however said that it may not be right to say that Trump’s election is the cause of intimidation or harassments on immigrant blacks or Hispanics, insisting that “Trump being elected as president has not started nor stopped any harassment. Racists/racism has existed since dawn time.”
Owonikoko admitted however, that Trump’s victory has made it to be “more prevalent.”
He also agreed that Nigerians, who don’t have their stay or whose permit has expired, face the risk of deportation.
On whether Trump’s victory could lead to more police brutality, he said, “Yes, especially with (the current) ‘stop and frisk.’”He said the tactic, which allows officers to stop people for no reason, is deployed more against the blacks and some Hispanics. He also expressed fears that this may lead to “more brutality and death.”
Another Nigerian, who used to be a journalist in Nigeria, but now lives in Dallas, Texas, declared that the fear of a Trump presidency is indeed palpable, especially now that it is inevitable. He said, “I have not been harassed, but I do have fears that he will deport illegal immigrants. The man, going by his campaign, is a tyrant.
Mustapha, who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, said he suspects that racism is going to be the order of the day, especially on the backdrop of Donald Trump’s campaign. If the white majority could vote Trump in despite his racist and divisive campaign, it then means that he was expressing their aspirations and are therefore in sync with him, he said.
Already, he said he has heard nearly ten cases of harassment on Africans, Hispanics and other coloured immigrants in the past weeks since Trump was announced president-elect.
At the moment, he does not know of any Nigerian expressing anxiety over possible deportation, stating however that his case is different and that he does not run any such risk.
About police brutality, Mustapha said immigrants, especially Nigerians are keeping their fingers crossed, saying that for now, nothing of the sort is happening
Basirat Balogun who lives in Texas however said she has no fears of aTrump presidency or any kind of xenophobia, being a United States citizen. Her fear, she said, is that “There are 98% chances that America will go to war under a Trump and this will affect the economy.”
She also said “There is a 98% chance that Trump will deport people without their proper papers.”
Another Dallas, Texas-based Nigerian immigrant, who’d rather not give his name, for fear of drawing attention to himself, said he will not necessarily term the situation as fear, but “concern for the unknown.”
As a US citizen, he said he knows his right. He however said any racist or white supremacist, who chooses to misbehave, will face the consequences according to the law.
He also warned that any immigrant, whether citizen or illegal, would have to be careful and act accordingly, to avoid unnecessary attention.
On whether Trump’s victory could lead to increase in police brutality on blacks, he said, “As stated above, we are disappointed with the outcome of the election, but there are laws in place to protect all, irrespective of colour, religion or background.”
“The important thing for all,” he said, “is to understand the law and be courageous enough to bring any unfair treatment to justice.”
On harassment, he said he has yet to see or hear of any such case, except for those being bandied on the social media.
Mutiu, who only recently arrived Newark, New Jersey, said he is not aware of any fear of xenophobia yet; although he admitted that Nigerians, who don’t have their papers, are partially afraid, as they do not know what awaits them from January.
He also said he is not aware of any physical or verbal attacks yet in his area, save for those he has been reading in the media.
Asked if there are fears amongst immigrants in Newark of a possible spiral in police brutality, Mutiu said, “That’ll be probably in the white-dominated states, where blacks are in tiny minority.”
Another fall-out of the Trump election is the displeasure several Nigerians in the US have expressed over derisive comments being posted on social media about their plight. They wondered why fellow Nigerians, most of whom some of them had helped financially in their times of need, could be turning around to make a joke of their dicey situation, wondering what they stand to gain, if they are deported back to Nigeria.
In a video that has now gone viral, a well-groomed gentleman of Nigerian origin, for about five minutes, spoke on the ‘unfortunate’ development. He directed his anger at Nigerians, who are making a joke of the scary situation and wondered what they stand to gain by deriding their own people. He also wondered what they stand to gain if Nigerians in the US were sent home.
Even before the election, the phobia for a possible Trump presidency had been potent, and few, if any of the millions of immigrants in the country, thought it would ever materialise.
Not so Trump however, who seemed sure of his chances and went ahead with his divisive campaigns. Not even the outcomes of the various debates and media surveys daunted the New York born billionaire.
Viewed retrospectively, it may be said that Trump knew the mentality of those he was directing his campaign at, and accordingly, satisfied them.
Indeed Trump had reportedly said in an interview he gave to People Magazine in 1998, that “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They are the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.”
Although Hillary Clinton had won the popular vote by 59,236,903 to Trump’s 59,085,787, Trump was ultimately elected via the Electoral College, with 290 to 232 and is set to be sworn in come January 20, 2017.
Trump is a Racist and a Tyrant