Las Vegas Sun

June 26, 2019

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Guest column:

Trump’s vitriol turns journalist into an activist

On June 16, 2015, everything changed. I remember hearing Donald Trump’s words:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with (them). They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

Did he just call my mother “the worst” of my country? My mother, who moved to this country, without papers, to work without a contract, benefits, a minimum salary or protection. Leaving her only child and enduring the suffering were not easy decisions, but she wanted to give our family a better future. Still, she is being called a criminal? My family’s story, and my family’s anger, echoed those of millions of other families in the United States. Our Hispanic community — and our vision of a welcoming, inclusive America — was under assault.

For months, Trump’s words and the public’s reaction escalated. Now because of Trump some think it’s acceptable to divide Americans into different categories, to insult others based on their religion, ethnicity, gender or disability. I’m terrified to think that my daughter, a United States citizen, is living in a country where she could be viewed as a lesser American, discriminated against or told she is incapable of doing her job because of her Mexican heritage.

This is why a month ago, I quit my job in television to join the fight against racists like Donald Trump and his divisive vision for the country.

Las Vegas residents recognize me as “La de las Noticias,” the girl from the news. I have earned three Emmys for my journalism and am well-known within the Hispanic community for my role as a news anchor for Univision and producer for NBC Telemundo Las Vegas. That is why, when I told my boss that I was quitting journalism

to work to defeat Trump, she told me, “Viri, your future in news is so bright; we have great plans for you in the company.”

But, none of that mattered. For years, I told countless stories of emotionally destroyed American citizen children who witnessed their parents, siblings and grandparents being deported. I reported about the abuse of immigrant workers and many other horrific and painful stories that have become “normal” for the undocumented community. And, as a journalist listening to these heartbreaking stories, I wasn’t allowed to get involved or become too attached.

After listening to Trump for nearly a year, I couldn’t bear to be a bystander anymore. I needed to take action and join the fight to ensure the United States remained a country that valued diversity; inclusiveness; and, ultimately, the full labor, civil, and political rights of all of its citizens.

I love my family, my community and this country, which is why I couldn’t just cover the stories anymore; I needed to join the fight. A society is built on solidarity and tolerance, not on divisiveness and hate.

On the pedestal of the Statute of Liberty, the symbol of freedom and equality in our country, Emma Lazarus’ poem reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

This is the America I am proud to call home. The America where one’s background does not determine one’s loyalty to this country. The America where one’s religion or race does not dictate one’s opportunity or advancement. The America for which I am honored to fight.

Viridiana Vidal is the state director for Nevada’s Voice, a project of the national immigration reform organization America’s Voice. She is a longtime Nevada resident and an Emmy award-winning journalist as a political reporter and primetime main anchor for Univision in Las Vegas.

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