Trump’s America: ‘Is it true, Tarrant County voted to get rid of us?’

Anti-Trump protesters demonstrate Friday night on the steps of the old Tarrant County Courthouse in downtown Fort Worth.
Anti-Trump protesters demonstrate Friday night on the steps of the old Tarrant County Courthouse in downtown Fort Worth. Special to the Star-Telegram

The great divide that existed before Donald Trump was elected president remains.

While Trump called for unity in his victory speech early Wednesday — followed by similar pleas from Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama — the opposite has happened.

On social media, families and friends unfriended each other. Facebook posts have been long and heartfelt, expressing both joy and fear.

Anti-Trump protests continued this weekend across the nation, including Fort Worth and Dallas. Complaints of Trump supporters bullying students in schools has been steady.

Minorities are among those most concerned, saying they’re seeing a culture of hate bloom before them.

“We had several who are frightened,” said Kathryn Everest, director of guidance and counseling for the Fort Worth school district, talking about minority students. “ ‘Is it true, Tarrant County voted to get rid of us?’ 

Tarrant County was the only large urban county in Texas to vote red, 52 percent for Trump to 43 percent for Clinton.

“Our young people don’t understand that there is more to an election than just one platform,” Everest said. “Kids don’t understand that a lot of the voting was about the Supreme Court or healthcare. It wasn’t all about immigration issues.”

Still, the fear persists.

Fort Worth police officer Brandon Morris was placed on restrictive duty last week as the department investigates a post on his Facebook page, calling on black people to purchase “many guns and rounds of ammunition” and be ready as “you may have to answer the call for revolution sooner than you think.”

Habib Rahman, 12, a seventh-grader who lives in suburban Dallas, said his mother broke into tears while driving him to school after Tuesday’s election. He said he put his hand on her shoulder and recited a passage from the Quran about ease following hardship.

“I’d barely seen my mom cry. And when I do, I feel like I should try and help her as quickly as possible,” he said.

Ten-year-old Cecily, a student at Fort Worth’s Nash Elementary School whose father is an undocumented immigrant, wrote an essay about her feelings. Out of fear for her safety, Cecily’s parents didn’t want her full name published.

“I was worried and kind of scared,” Cecily wrote. “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen if [Trump] did become president. Now that I know, I am trying to be positive about it.”

Jason Waller, an engineering student at Southern Methodist University and a military veteran, said that if communities are going to bridge this divide, they need to do it at the grassroots.

Waller, who voted for Trump, said people shouldn’t assume that everyone who voted for the New York City billionaire is bigoted or racist.

“We should be working together to try to find a solution,” Waller said. “We have to stop this business of ‘us versus them.’ 

‘Am I going to be removed?’

The Fort Worth school district has an estimated 87,000 students, including more than 60 percent identifying as Hispanic.

Everest, director of guidance and counseling, said educators, counselors and principals have an open door for students.

At Paschal High School, where 59 percent of the student body is Hispanic, Principal Terri Mossage said that one undocumented student asked a school employee, “Am I going to be removed?”

Velinda Rubio’s son Omar, a first-generation Mexican-American, is a sixth-grader at Bedford’s Meadow Creek Elementary School. He and a friend of Puerto Rican descent were singled out by other students, she said.

“You can’t go to Meadow Creek anymore — American schools are not for Mexicans,” they were told.

Rubio, who reported the incident to an assistant principal, hopes the school will take action.

“I told the vice principal that these parents need to be talked to. I think this should go out to the entire student body to say that these things can’t be tolerated,” Rubio said.

Meadow Creek is 58 percent Anglo, 22 percent Hispanic, 9 percent black and 6 percent Asian.

Deanne Hullender, a spokeswoman for the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district, said officials will meet Monday morning to discuss the complaint. She doesn’t know whether a letter will be sent home to parents, but she added that the district is “proactive” in dealing with complaints.

At Keller Central High School in north Fort Worth, a small group of students reportedly chanted: “Donald Trump, build a wall! Make it tall, deport them all!” in the cafeteria the day after he was elected. District officials said that they have not received any reports and that administrators did not see or hear “anything like that going on.”

At other schools, “build the wall” chants were documented, including at a middle school in suburban Detroit.

Bridging the divide

A flier handed out at a recent protest in Dallas showed a Donald Trump who looked more like Jack Nicholson in the 1980 horror movie The Shining than a presidential candidate. “Disgusted by Trump’s Hate? FIGHT BACK!” it says.

Damaris Combs, 29, attended the Dallas protest Wednesday. She said Trump’s statements empowered people to say racist and sexist things.

“He’s given people a free pass by saying, ‘I did it and I was elected president, and you can do it too,’ ” Combs said.

But many Trump supporters say it’s important to not take everything he says in a literal sense.

“I see him as whatever fits his agenda for the day, but I don’t think he’s a crazy man that’s going to take advantage of an executive order. I think a lot of it is just for show,” said Geoff Rupp, 55, of Mansfield. “I think he still thinks he’s on The Apprentice sometimes. He’ll say outlandish things just to get a reaction from people.”

Other Trump supporters say generalizations of them as uneducated and racist are flat-out wrong.

“Please keep in mind that not only Clinton, but [Trump], too, has well-educated, classy, and yes, even celebrity support,” said Carol Lea, 68, a self-employed real estate appraiser and Realtor who lives in Weatherford and voted for Trump. “His supporters come from every age, gender, race, faith, profession and walk of life.”

Alina Rosales, 16, a sophomore at Fort Worth’s Marine Creek Collegiate High School, said she and other students are finding that with frank discussion they can start moving past the negativity. Instead of promoting protests, she is trying to accept Trump’s presidency and respect those who voted for him.

“We are hoping that while he is in office, he will take responsibility and think about what he has said in the past and how it will affect families in the future,” Rosales said.

Waller said that if more Clinton supporters talked with Trump supporters, they would find out that many Trump supporters are not racist. In his case, he doesn’t favor mass deportations of immigrants.

Waller, 39, said he has two views on immigrants: “Either they contribute to America and our economy or they detract from it. I think the vast majority of them contribute to it. … I would like to see deportation to isolate the ‘trouble makers.’ 

Staff writers Mitch Mitchell and Elizabeth Campbell contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press and the Star-Telegram archives.

Jeff Caplan: 817-390-7705, @Jeff_Caplan

Diane A. Smith: 817-390-7675, @dianeasmith1

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