Tensions between people of color and white nationalists have risen in recent months.
The conflict reached its peak in August during the clash between rally-goers and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed after a white nationalist ran her down with his car. The incident also left multiple bystanders injured.
The current racial climate is affecting the entire country, including students at Salt Lake Community College. Dani Ndayisa, an African-American SLCC student, TRIO member and avid Black Lives Matter supporter, had this to say about the division: “It has been rapidly growing because of the lack of condemnation our president has voiced on white nationalists. It has been very discouraging to see our president comment such problematic comments, especially at a time where our country is so divided. He had the nerve to say there were ‘bad people on both sides’ which is not what we need to hear.”
Ndayisa also says he thinks President Trump took too long to release a statement because he didn’t want to condemn his base, and knew it would hurt him.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, in 2016 the Ku Klux Klan said that it was in the midst of a revival with a “surge in membership across the Deep South.” Ndayisa points to the president as a reason for the increase in the visibility of the KKK, white supremacists and other hate groups in America.
“I personally think it’s because of Donald Trump. Everything he stands for is coded to support white nationalism, like the whole banning Muslims and being the pioneer of the Birther movement. It’s coded racism,” he says. “No doubt in my mind this has a direct correlation to Trump’s nomination to his presidential election.”
When asked if this racial tension has had a personal impact, Ndayisa says, “Physically, no. Salt Lake City is such progressive little hub. I don’t really interact with people who support Trump or at least I haven’t felt tension, but emotionally it is draining and hurtful to see hate groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis grow and prosper in 2017.”
Despite the climate, Ndayisa says he in encouraged by some of the dialogue that has come out of the tension.
“[The conflict] has pushed this whole notion aside of a ‘post-racial society’ as myth, and that’s a start. We can now focus on how to fix it instead of trying to urge if it even exists.”