Why Charlotte should rescind the invitation to host the RNC
By Jorge Millares
As I heard of thousands of people at a Trump rally in Greenville, NC chant “Send her back” when referring to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, I couldn’t help but think of one thing- my mother. I am a son of immigrant parents. My mother came to the U.S. fleeing political oppression in Cuba in the 1960’s. She was immediately granted asylum and eventually became a citizen. But what if she came today? Would she feel welcomed? How would have the chants of “Send her back” shaped her perception of our country? Or even worse, how would my life have changed had she been turned away at the border?
I remember growing up seeing Republican Presidents such as Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. As a child I didn’t understand much about policy, but I knew one thing. They exhibited decency and respect. Those days of the Republican party are no more. Instead it has become a party that is being fueled by bigotry, racism, and xenophobia under the leadership of President Donald Trump. During his time as President he has referred to Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers, called some who marched alongside white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA “very fine people”, and most recently told four Congresswomen of color to “go back to (the countries) where they came from”. And the list of his exclusionary and racist comments goes on and on. Are all Republicans racist? No. But silence is complicity and it is critical that those within the GOP that know this to be wrong stand against it.
Last year many community advocates strongly urged our Charlotte City Council to vote against hosting the Republican National Convention in Charlotte. Their concerns were valid then and still are today. By hosting the RNC we are inviting those that subscribe to an ideology of racism and xenophobia into our city. Not only does it send the wrong message to the rest of the world about who we are as a city, but it puts the lives of people of color who are residents of Charlotte in danger. Charlotte, NC should not be the next Charlottesville, VA. Despite the warnings, our City Council voted 6-5 in favor of hosting the RNC. It is only now following the events that transpired in Greenville, NC that some on the Council are finally listening. But is it too late to reconsider? I don’t think so.
Last month the Charlotte City Council voted unanimously in favor of the Charlotte Compact on Immigration. It is a list of values and guiding principles in support of our immigrant community. I was a part of the Committee that worked together for 45 days to engage our immigrant community. The document states that “Charlotte policies must reaffirm our global reputation as a welcoming city” and that we are a “safe family-oriented city where people work together to help everyone thrive”. Inviting individuals to our city who believe that immigrants should ‘go back’ to their countries does not make us a welcoming city. Putting the lives of our residents of color at risk due to the influx of white supremacists that will descend upon our city does not promote our values of working together and being a safe family-oriented city.
I firmly believe that the ideology of Donald Trump’s new Republican party violates our values as a city and the guiding principles that we adopted in the Charlotte Compact. We must take the necessary steps to rescind our invitation to host the RNC. While it may mean that we incur a penalty for being in breach of contract and that we will not reap the economic benefits that come with hosting the event, we should never put a price tag on our integrity as a city or the lives of our residents. There’s still time to be the Charlotte that we claim to be.