LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
A man in California insults a family for listening to Spanish music while celebrating on July 4. A man in Chicago berates a woman for wearing a shirt with the flag of Puerto Rico on it. A local official ignores the woman's calls for assistance. A woman in a park scolds a Los Angeles Times reporter for speaking Spanish to her daughter - and so many more. According to a Department of Justice report, for just the state of California, Latinos and Hispanics are increasingly the subject of hate crimes with a more than 50 percent increase from 2016. To talk about this, I'm joined by Maria Hinojosa. She's the host of NPR's Latino USA.
MARIA HINOJOSA, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So some sad statistics there - I only listed some examples of the recent attacks against Latinos that have made the news. And there is a rhetoric that contributes to these kinds of hate crimes.
HINOJOSA: There is a rhetoric, and we've actually witnessed some of this coming from the administration. So when you have members of the administration, including the president, calling specifically Latino/Latina immigrants infiltrators, vermin, animals, then I'm sure there are many people who say, well, wait a second - us, too. And how do you challenge that?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: To be clear, the administration says that when the president uses those words or members of the administration use those words, they're talking about actual criminal elements that come into this country, like MS-13 gang members for example.
HINOJOSA: Yes. But for many people, they just hear a general message that says these people are a threat - they're flooding into our country; they're scary; they're brown; they speak Spanish; they're immigrants. And I think that that's why we're seeing these high numbers.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I want to play some tape from President Trump right now. He just had a few words to say on his recent trip to the United Kingdom about immigration. Let's listen.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I just think it's changing the culture. I think it's a very negative thing for Europe. I think it's very negative. I think having Germany - and I have a great relationship with Angela Merkel, great relationship of Germany. But I think that's very much hurt Germany. I think it's very much hurt other parts of Europe.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: One of the things that people noted with the president's use of the word culture is that he seems to be implying white culture, that he seems to be focusing on culture as a very specific type of thing, European culture meaning white, Christian culture - and the same here in America.
HINOJOSA: Right. And as we know, you know, before the Pilgrims arrived, there were indigenous people, native people living here. They had a culture. So the sense that, somehow, everything just now emanates from white culture is very problematic. Plus, we know what the data says. The demographic data shows that our country is increasingly becoming more diverse, more Latino, more Asian. And so it opens up into a broader conversation, which is - who gets to determine what is American and what is not? That's a much more complicated conversation that it seems like some people are just having in parks and offices and on the street in ways that are not necessarily conducive.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You, as someone who really has their ear to the ground in the Latino community, I'm wondering what you've been hearing from other Latinos. Are they afraid to speak Spanish? Are people feeling like they're afraid to celebrate their culture?
HINOJOSA: It depends. I have - some of my students at DePaul University, where I teach, many of them are American citizens. And they are not going to take any of this sitting down. I have other students who are undocumented. The last thing that they're going to do is be drawing attention to themselves or be going to the police and saying, I'm getting harassed. If you're undocumented, when you make that step to engage with the police, you're possibly going to end up deported. So when this happens to them, they cannot react. It puts them into a very precarious situation. So some people are speaking up, but I'm thinking about the ones who are too fearful to even report these kinds of hate crimes.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Maria Hinojosa, host of NPR's Latino USA.
Thank you very much. Muchisima gracias.
HINOJOSA: Gracias, Lulu. Good to talk to you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.