U.S. Border Patrol Holding Rooms, Fort Brown Station, Brownsville, Texas (281835)
Credit: Wikipedia

I recently saw the photos of Vice President Mike Pence and members of the Trump administration visiting the Southern border and walking past men and women in cages. Although far too many Trump supporters and sycophants to this administration are immune to the grotesque human rights abuses occurring on U.S. soil, we must never become complacent and accept this behavior as normal or worthy of any rationale. What is currently happening to families (primarily from Latin America) will go down in history as one of the greatest human rights abuses in our nation’s history. This administration is using our tax dollars to pay guards who warehouse human beings, barely feed them, and deny them basic necessities such as soap, water and toothbrushes. We must not become immune, we cannot ignore what is happening to babies and children in the name of “national security.”

I recently mentioned on a television cable network that this disgusting display of racist and xenophobic behavior is not new for our nation. I mentioned the centuries of chattel slavery toward African-Americans, the genocide of hundreds of Native American tribes, and even the internment/concentration camps during World War II when ethnic Japanese (and some Italian and German) families were ripped from their communities and rounded up with no explanation. Unfortunately, what is currently occurring at the border is part of a much longer darker history than many Americans would like to admit. Perhaps what was most heartbreaking and quite frankly disgusting, are the number of television viewers who felt the need to send me messages via social media stating their pleasure with the current administration’s Draconian policies toward families at the border.

I should not have been surprised, but the volume of responses made my heart ache for humanity. Receiving messages from mothers and grandmothers praising the Trump administration for family separations let me know that the president’s message had worked. If he could convince American citizens that those seeking asylum were animals, rapists, murderers and worse, then they should be shown no compassion by those who immigrated to America “the right way.” That type of thinking is ahistorical, counterproductive, shrouded in racism and in lock-step with the white nationalist agenda of this president and those who work diligently to uphold his white supremacist vision of America.

This nation has always held racist, white supremacist, patriarchal and anti-Black beliefs. However, this country has consistently moved forward due to coalition building and good people standing up (and sometimes losing their lives) to fight for the inclusion of others. The cowardice of V.P. Pence, the cabinet members, and this president knows no bounds. It is up to us to continue to fight for those who are seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” the co-host of the new podcast FAQ-NYC, and the host of The Aftermath and The Counter on Ozy.com.