What it feels like to be told ‘Go back where you came from’


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(RNS) — Over the past few days, the president of the United States has publicly announced his racism through a series of tweets targeting four women of color who are first-term members of Congress: Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Besides being a textbook example of racist rhetoric, President Trump’s suggestion that the four women “go back to where you came from” called on white nationalist talking points. You don’t have to be a scholar of religion and race to know this, though that’s what I am. The more relevant expertise I bring to this moment is that I have been targeted by both white supremacists and white nationalists my whole life.

I can’t recall how many times I’ve been told to go back to where I came from. What I do know is that the frequency of these calls has increased in recent years, in part because of what scholars are calling the Trump Effect: the emboldening of people to act and speak on their racist feelings.