As those of you who have me on Facebook may know, I’ve spent the past few months running around in a Trump costume at various comic conventions. I did so for the simple reason that I found it humorous for a Mexican to be running around as Trump. To my surprise the experience was surprisingly enlightening.
When dressed in Trump I got a range of reactions from people wanting a comedic photo with/of me, being attacked by a pair of Hispanics dressed as ‘cholo’ Mario and Lugio, and Bernie supporters saying they hated my guts until I explained I didn’t support Trump.
Yesterday though, when dressed as Trump for Halloween, I got the strangest reaction when walking around my university campus. A meek boy came up to me and asked me if I identified as a Republican, I responded that I did but that I had actually supported Jeb in the primaries*, and his eyes light up. He began to shake my hand and talk about how great it was to find someone else after looking for so long.
The incident really hit home for me since I recall my own undergraduate years of feeling politically isolated from my peers. I had resigned myself to biting my tongue whenever politics were discussed. This didn’t work though since I was often in social sciences and my leanings quickly showed when we had freedom to elect subjects for our assignments. So I just kept shut and tried to produce as bland as possible papers so that I wouldn’t be singled out.
This didn’t change until I discovered there were a few conservative/libertarian professors sprinkled across the university. I didn’t become a chatter box in their classes, but I felt an immense weight off my shoulders knowing that I could voice an opinion outside the mainstream Democratic party line and not have to defend myself from claims of being a racist one-percenter.
Unfortunately, as Landberg et al.’s recent paper shows, there just aren’t many non-Democratic professors in academia. Does academia have a diversity problem? Yes it has an intellectual diversity problem, but its not clear what can be done about it.
Thoughts? Have others had similar experiences?
*This is of course relative to my disdain for the Democratic Party.