Latino students said derogatory graffiti and verbal harassment made them feel under attack, However, they fought back by wearing their political views on their sleeves!
For months, 16-year-old Angelina Alvarez of Costa Mesa, California, has heard the message loud and clear from Donald Trump: Mexicans are rapists and criminals; illegal immigrants should go home; infectious diseases are pouring across the border from Mexico.
Since last fall, Newport Harbor High (her school) students who are Trump supporters have worn their politics on their T-shirts at school, which is 38% Latino and 52% white.
But Angelina and her friends became particularly alarmed last week when anti-immigrant, anti-Mexican, derogatory graffiti was chalked throughout the campus including the words “fuck illegal aliens”, “wetbacks” and a heart drawn alongside Trump’s name.
“With Donald Trump, [students] are more open about their hate and the things they say,” Angelina said.
After the anti-Trump protests last week, where one of Angelina’s 13-year-old friends was choked and punched, the Latino students had had enough – she and half a dozen of her friends wore Dump Trump T-shirts to school on Friday to make their feelings known.
But the school was not happy.
At the end of her math class a security guard showed up. The principal, Sean Boulton, wanted to see Angelina in the main office – and he wanted her to change out of the Dump Trump shirt.
Boulton insisted that they remove the shirts for their own safety. But that argument didn’t make sense to the students, who felt they were being held to a double standard. After all, their Trump-supporting classmates had worn their pro-Trump shirts on campus since the start of the school year.
“They’ve worn the shirts all this time, and we wear a shirt for one period and we get called up right away,” Angelina said. “It’s not like we’re doing anything violent. We’re just standing up for ourselves.”
For Angelina and her classmates, the issue went beyond T-shirts. They told administrators that the derogatory graffiti, some of it still visible on Friday, and other incidents on campus, such as verbal harassment, had made them feel like they were under attack.
Boulton said the school had addressed the graffiti by removing it but was unaware that other students had targeted and harassed Angelina and her classmates with racial slurs.
“There’s certainly a lot of things that go on on campus that are inappropriate … and as information surfaces we don’t just ignore it. We react and we’re proactive in trying to resolve it,” Boulton said.
The students are now allowed to wear the T-shirts. But had they not taken a stance, the girls believe that those who felt threatened or harassed by Trump supporters would have remained silent.
“We opened up a lot of eyes and we showed people that they can have voices too.”