Dominican-American writer Junot Díaz will speak Monday, April 11, 2016, at the 20th Annual Immigrants’ Day celebration at the Massachusetts State House. In “Junot Díaz is staying put,” Marcela García (Ideas, The Boston Globe) interviews Díaz, mostly focusing on the rise of Donald Trump and his politics of xenophobia. Here are excerpts:
For Junot Díaz, the rise of Donald Trump and his politics of xenophobia in the US presidential race are nothing new. In fact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author sees Trump everywhere — in the contemporary anti-immigrant policies of his native Dominican Republic, in the widespread bashing of refugees in Europe. And yet, he remains hopeful that people will figure out that building walls and kicking immigrants out won’t solve anything. [. . .]
IDEAS: Do you know any Trump supporters personally, like really know them?
IDEAS: Do you think that’s a problem?
DÍAZ: No, because the people I know who would support Trump are keeping their mouths shut. I know a number of people who — from the comments they make — are going to vote for Trump when that curtain closes. But let’s keep it real honest here: They are voting for a xenophobic, anti-Latino white supremacist — don’t try to pretty it up. This is now the age when people want to be white supremacists, but they don’t actually want to be known for it. I prefer the 1950s where people were like, “I’m a white supremacist, and that’s who I am.” Now people want to burn a cross on your lawn and call themselves not racists.
IDEAS: And in comes Trump to validate these feelings . . .
DÍAZ: But they’ve always had permission. Now people like Susan Sarandon are noticing that people of color live this way?! This is the way I’ve always lived! What’s happened is that it has now reached a level of national discourse where it’s on the table. But they’ve never minded that we were treated like this off-stage. Trump is taking America’s dirty laundry to the center stage. Everything he does, the rest of the country already does really well: victimize immigrants, poor people, women. This country wants to live in the illusion that it is tolerant but also wants to be able to practice intolerance.
IDEAS: Does that explain the rise of Trump?
DÍAZ: It’s part of it. There’s a long-term tradition of white supremacy in this country. Trump isn’t something entirely new. But then there is the crisis for white supremacy in this country now where you have people of color standing up for themselves in ways that they’ve never stood up for themselves or at least standing up for themselves in a generational, novel way. [. . .]