Fabiola Santiago

Mr. President, your so-called ‘shithole’ countries make Miami great

Reporters try to quiz Trump over 'shithole' remark at MLK event

A day after President Donald Trump apparently described African countries as "shithole countries" in White House meetings, the president repeated the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: "that no matter what the color of our skin, or the place of
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A day after President Donald Trump apparently described African countries as "shithole countries" in White House meetings, the president repeated the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: "that no matter what the color of our skin, or the place of

Let me tell you, Mr. President, about those people you think come from “shithole” countries.

They made Miami what it is today, a city like no other in the United States.

You won’t defeat or degrade us with your undignified slurs.

Every single group from the Americas — whether their ancestors were from Europe or Africa or Asia or all of the above, like my very American offspring — has played a role, toiled at whatever necessary job was at hand from dawn to dusk. They brought to these shores stories, flavors and accents you’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying in your racist cocoon.

The result of all those immigrants’ sweat equity and fierce energy — the result of the risks they took leaving homelands, sacrificing family ties to endure and confront prejudice like yours — is a dynamic kaleidoscope of humanity.

We’re the de facto anti-Trump, a region so richly marvelous in tone, color and essence that people from all over the world want to experience this refuge city precisely because it beats in syncopated rhythm both to a unique and universal drum.

The people from all those countries you disdain — Haiti, El Salvador, Africa, the Caribbean, Mexico, etc. — make us everything you’re not: genuine, exuberant, spiritual, intelligent, multilingual and multicultural.

Sexy and contradictory, too.

Who else can claim a Republican like Pitbull, Mr. 305?

And we suffer bouts of cowardice, as is the case with Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a stalwart Republican who heard you say Haiti is a “shithole” but won’t talk about it. Meanwhile, your ambassador to Panama resigns over your comments. We’ll work on political cowardice at the voting booth.

President Donald Trump denied in a tweet on Thursday that he asked during a White House meeting why he should accept immigrants from “shithole countries” rather than people from places like Norway. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) responded to the tweet on

Take a look in our mirror because, no matter how much you try to “engineer” the ethnic and racial make-up of this country — as CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta, the son of Cuban exiles, so cleverly described your purpose — this is what a lot of America looks like already.

This is the home of people you’ve shamefully left unprotected, but we do have a voice and a lot to say.

This is the home of Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat, who pens heartbreaking, luminous stories about her Haiti, both the one in the Caribbean and the one in Miami. This is where she raises daughters and also her voice in behalf of her community, under siege by your policies.

“A few weeks ago, it was ‘All Haitians have AIDS,’” she posted on her Facebook page. “This week we are from a shithole country. Haiti is not unacquainted with racists or white supremacists. We defeated our share of them in 1804 when we became the world’s first black republic. Haiti is not a shithole country. It is a country that, for example, if France hadn’t grown tired of fighting, it would have never sold 828,000 square miles of land to the U.S., from the western banks of the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, nearly doubling the size of this country. Alexander Hamilton said that the Louisiana Purchase would have never happened were it not for the ‘courage and obstinate resistance of the black inhabitants’ of Haiti. We are also the country that the United States has invaded several times, preventing us from consistently ruling ourselves. If we are a poor country, then our poverty comes in part from pillage and plunder.”

I would recommend reading her many works so that you might come to know the noble soul of a community you pledged to support in your campaign but have betrayed during barely a year in office. But she’s way above your level of intellect, something those who want to learn can overcome, but not you, Mr. President.

This, too, was the home for decades of Rafael de Acha, a Cuban American and pillar of the theater community, now retired after a 50-year career in the arts.

Here’s what he has to say about your history of unpresidential word choices: “Shakespeare’s characters are defined by their language, and we all know that the Bard ‘wrote the book’ when it comes to understanding human nature. Listen to how this man speaks and writes, when he is off-script, and you will get a true glimpse into his psyche. Halting, fumbling and stumbling on his own ego, he pours out trash day after day in language that barely rises above the level of a grammar school education.”

He adds: “Since my days as a 17-year old Cuban refugee living in Minneapolis through my retirement now, in Ohio, and my fifty-year marriage to a wonderful woman I’ve encountered a whole gamut of responses. I’ve been suspected, shunned or ignored by people who did not care for me because I came from a country which some did not even know existed. But I have also been accepted, respected and even loved by like-minded people who know that a foreign accent or a foreign-sounding name does not define you.”

And that America — the one with the generous open heart and mind that de Acha speaks of — didn’t elect you. You know this; your base is a minority. It bugs you. It haunts you. And you do what the schoolyard bully does: Hurt people to make yourself feel better, superior.

You leave despicable Russia alone because it suits your campaign’s treasonous conduct, but you pounce on countries people are fleeing in large part because American addiction has fueled the ruthless trade of drug cartels, turning their beloved homelands into killing fields.

You owe the victims American protection.

Shame on you for disgracing our country with your white supremacist foul mouth.

The least you owe is an apology.

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