If you work in journalism long enough, you’re going to be called just about everything by just about everybody. It comes with the territory, and if you don’t start out with a thick skin, you’ll soon develop one. Most of the time, you ignore it. But in this environment supercharged with a nastiness many of us have never seen before, sometimes you get shocked. Like when the nastiness comes from people you’ve known most of your life. People who were not just friends, but close friends. It happened to me today, when I was accused on social media by a high school pal of both spreading hatred and inciting violence.
And what exactly did I do? Well, I produced a slide show. I had a rare Friday off, and used it to make my own statement about what might lie ahead following the election. And I did so through use of the most powerful communication tool in the history of mankind – the still photograph. I no longer work in daily newspaper journalism. I’m a college instructor nowadays. I teach on two campuses; California State University, Bakersfield, where I’m a lecturer in communication studies and media arts. And Bakersfield Community College, where my courses are photojournalism, multimedia reporting and media and society.
Both campuses are heavily Latino. The Latino student makeup of CSU Bakersfield is 49 percent, and the Latino student makeup of Bakersfield College is 62 percent. So with certainty, a percentage of those students are DREAMers, and are among the 800,000 young men, women and children who have known the United States as their home for most or almost all of their lives, yet are subject to deportation under President-elect Donald Trump’s deportation plan, which he has doubled and tripled and quadrupled down on during his campaign. Some of these DREAMers are known to me, many others are not. And I’m worried sick about them. Could something this cold, this callous, this utterly without compassion actually happen to these kids and young adults?
So I spent the day culling historic images from The Library of Congress, purchased a piece of music and produced a video showing what it looked like the last time the United States rounded up and relocated human beings in a “humane” manner. You know, back in 1942. My intent, of course, was to show through history what we as a nation are on the precipice of repeating. I see it as a cautionary tale. Spreading hatred? Inciting violence? Well, check it out and by all means, you tell me.