For low-income people of color, being conservative has never been easy. Unfortunately, this comes as a sad irony at a University supposedly committed to tolerance and inclusion.
I don’t know another community which has received as much hate as conservatives of color. Last year, one of my friends in Uj recieved a short email reading “You should kill yourself”. Another black conservative I know told me that a white student came into his room and said he should be lynched because he voted for Trump.
This comes at a time when conservative groups on campus are bigger and more diverse than ever. SCR, Turning Point USA, and Stanford Students for Life are all headed by students of color.
Where do low-income conservatives of color fit into the picture of a diverse and pluralistic University?
Nowhere: Leftist assumptions about power preclude the existence of people like me.
Many of the conservative principles that I, a mixed Chinese and Mexican-American, hold are generations in the making. They are inspired by the experiences of my grandparents: a Chinese grandfather, who fled the fires of Communist persecution and a Mexican grandmother, who brought my mother to the nation I would be born in. A young girl of 9 at the time, she remembers the small green-card she held in her hands. She cherished it more than anything else she had.
Our nation’s history is made up of stories like that of my family. At the dinner table at my family home in L.A.,I would reflect over this fact over plastic china-plates with sides of Mole and arroz, eclipsed by double portions of chop-suey. I can think of nothing more quintessentially American.
What I could not have imagined was how this realm of experience would lead me to conservative values and principles.
The first time I heard about Ben Shapiro, he was slated to speak at Cal State Los Angeles in 2016. My stomach churned at the title of his talk, “When Diversity Becomes a Problem.”
But when I listened to the lecture, I was surprised to discover a talk very different than the one I had imagined.
I was under the impression that I would be listening to a racist, only to hear Shapiro propose the principle that the diversity of ideas was more valuable than diversity of skin color.
I had crossed a forbidden line, and found myself agreeing with the Jewish man I had intially labeled a Nazi.
Ben Shapiro hadn’t walked in my shoes, but many arguments still mirrored facets of my own life.
High school graduates in my community would teach me to hate an abstract oppressor I had never met. They presented Marxism as a means of empowerment to people in my community. In those moments, I found myself skeptical, haunted by images of my grandfather, who fled the fires of communist persecution in China. Behind him, I saw the shadows of a murdered family I would never meet.
I looked at the projections of the manufactured structures of systemic racism. Behind superficial scape-goats, I remember a home where young men looked to old gang-members in the place of absent fathers, where mothers cradled the cold bodies of murdered sons.
If rejecting the artifices of victimhood meant addressing real problems instead of conjectured ones-if that meant being a conservative, I guess I was one.
That is when I began listening to Ben Shapiro.
And this is why the Left is so absolutely terrified by him.
This is why in the run up to his lecture last week, campus was abuzz over a single 8 by 11inch sheet of paper for an event they could freely attend or completely ignore, and the reason why some residences of so-called “community-spaces” are now walling themselves off in an attempt to prevent other students from hearing conservative views.
It’s because they’re afraid. Afraid of hearing something they might actually agree with. Of discovering, that maybe the way they previously thought about truth or identity are wrong.
It is the fearful reminder that people like me do exist. The fact that conservative ideas are powerful enough to transcend all racial and identitarian divides. That there are people out there with the courage to rebel against their own pre-concenceptions, challenge the understandings they have previously held about themselves, and grow.
If you were one of the courageous few who looked past the lies and attended the event, then congratulations. But more importantly, thank you for taking the time to listen to and try and understand conservative ideas.
I hope you were able to see just what makes conservatism so appealing to people like me. That conservatism really is for everyone--regardless of race, socio-economic status, or sexual orientation.
As the co-president of my high schools MEChA chapter, even I had something to learn from Ben Shapiro. He helped to sway someone like me, away from Marxist activism to principled conservatism. I hope that fact alone reveals more to you than what the sharp partisan divides will have you believe.
Maybe Ben Shapiro did the same for you. Maybe he didn’t. But just maybe, you have found that conservatism has something for you too.