The Pacific Index

Alumni speaks about racial attack she encountered in Hillsboro the day after Trump’s election

Clara Howell, Co-Editor in Chief

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Kara Stevens, who graduated from Pacific University in 2010, was struck by a brick on her left side, her “strong” side she said. She was going to Safeway in the Tanasbourne Plaza in Hillsboro around 1 p.m. when she felt a sharp pain coming from her left rib. She lost her breath for either 15 or 20 seconds. She could not recall. “Stupid nigger” and “stupid nigger bitch” were some of the racial slurs thrown at her by two White males, possibly in their 30s, sporting a Trump/Pence bumper sticker on the back of their car. Stevens said she has been called these racially derogative terms before, but never has it ever escalated to the point of violence like it did on Nov. 9. “Oh she’s kinda cute, we could rape her, and then when our President, working on overturning Roe v. Wade, she’d have to carry that baby and when she gives birth to it, she would be reminded everyday she looked at it of the day we put her in her nigger place” and “We could just use her and then when we are done, string her up from a tree or something and just move on” and “We now have a President who feels how we feel and it 
starts with getting rid of niggers like you” were phrases that added to the weight of the bricks strike. Then, as 
the two men drove off, one formed his fingers into the shape of a gun and said “Bang. You’re lucky all I had was a brick. I’m coming for you,” before they drove off, leaving her hunched over in pain. “To get hit with something and have those things said to you is totally different from someone yelling out a window, driving down the street,” Stevens said. “I 
can’t point a finger at [Trump] so much as his statements and ideas is what made these people feel like they’re safe to do it and I think that’s the problem.” Alyson Burns-Glover, a social psychology professor at Pacific said the males who engaged this way in public most likely had no fear of being caught or stopped, feeling a sense of entitlement. “I would guess they spend a lot of time on social media and with others who are exactly like them, hence traveling in the ‘pack’ and so have no basis for humanizing anyone different,” Burns-Glover said. “I would not be surprised if they have done this before.” And Stevens is not alone. According to Southern Poverty Law Center, there were 700 hate crimes reported the week following the election, 65 percent being in the first three days after Trump was elected. 
While there were 27 anti-Trump reported incidents, there were 468 reported hate crimes directed solely at minorities. “We only know there is an increased reporting of hate crimes, so we could also think of this change as a sign that the targets of these atrocities are not going to sit by any longer,” Burns-Glover said. “I think we are seeing people who believe they are now empowered to behave this way because of social media and because social institutions have yet to create the conditions where such behaviors would be so out of the social norm and community standards, that the person would 
experience no benefit, social, ego, or economic, from the behavior.” Many others reported experiencing similar situations to Stevens post-election, but at that moment in time, she could not have felt more alone. She even came to terms with the fact that she might die. “It was like tumbleweeds, I felt like I was in a desert,” she said, adding that no bystander came to check on her or phone the police.
“Instead, I stood there alone and everyone is still on their Black Lives Matter thing and that started in my hometown of being a huge thing,” Stevens said. “It was around before, but that whole Mike Brown thing made it huge and I just stood there thinking to myself, ‘huh, here’s a moment where I feel like my life does not matter to anyone right now;’ I’ve never felt like my life didn’t matter anymore than I did at that particular moment.” And in relation to Steven’s incident and many incidents like Stevens, Burns-Glover feels the real issue is the lack of bystander intervention. “Why was Kara not seen as worthy of help or what is it about the situation that people did not see this as a ‘bystander emergency?’” Burns-Glover said. “These men ‘acted up,’ but everyone else failed to act [so] which is worse psychologically to the target?  You can say these men are in the minority, but what makes people of color or other non-majority groups feel unsafe is that they do not know who to trust, who to go to when they are attacked.” She acknowledges that we live in a society where less time is spent interacting face-to-face, fraying social ties, which explains some of the controversial conditions in which hostility and indifference prosper. But both Stevens and Burns-Glover agree that dehumanization and racism never really left. “Any minority  in the USA, [for example Black Lives Matter,] can tell 
you these incidents happen more often than any dominant-culture person realizes or cares to think about,” Burns-Glover said. Because of the reported hate crimes Stevens fears that history will be repeating. But worse. 
“Here’s the thing, back then people owned their racism, they owned their prejudice and today’s time, people try to deny it and pretend that doesn’t exist, but to me, that’s more dangerous,” Stevens said. “You can’t just go back a few years, you go back 100 years, because to me, when someone tells me to make America great, my mind went ‘so make it white again?’ Because America is already great.” Stevens even comes from a family that was heavily involved with the Military. She expressed her patriotism toward the U.S., but said when things are wrong, they need to be addressed. And she plans to do just that. “It’s like the saying goes, ‘the only way for evil to keep going in this world is when good people sit back and do nothing,’ so I don’t wanna sit back and do nothing, I want to say something,” Stevens said.
“You’re gonna have to kill me to get me to be silent about anything, you wanna shut me up, you’re gonna have to put me six feet in the ground because other than that, I have a lot to say and imma keep sayin’ it and imma keep beatin’ a dead horse until somebody listens.” Burns-Glover prides Stevens in her ability to speak up. She believes people who bully this way succeed with silent targets. “When we set up the conditions that their behavior will be seen, reported and stopped, we create the conditions for change,” Burns-Glover said. And after Stevens was attacked, she was out and about the very next day. She said she wants to be there for people who need it or are afraid, be a voice and be a face of that fear. “It’s gonna take a little more than a brick to break me and if you say you’re comin’ for me, then I won’t 
be hard to find,” Stevens said.
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Alumni speaks about racial attack she encountered in Hillsboro the day after Trump’s election