Barbershop Talk

Jordan Leopold: “As a Country, we can’t Unite out of Anger or Fear but out of Love.”

As a part of the nation drowns from sorrow and disbelief that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to reality TV show celebrity and businessman Donald J. Trump. This election caused a divide between progressive and conservative Americans. Obviously, Hillary was the better choice after winning the popular vote and having years of experience in a political office. However, the electoral college elected a man that doesn’t know how to abide by the federal standard.

So recently, I linked up with a colleague of mine, and his name is Jordan Leopold. We discussed the prelude and the aftermath of the election. Jordan and I went back and forth on how the country came to its decisions and who would be affected by the outcome. Also, he posted a video on Facebook that received thousands of views, which encouraged me to sit and have a discussion with him.

Here’s the entire discussion between Jordan and me:

Muhammad: Explain where you are from and give a quick bio of yourself.

Leopold: Well thanks Jamal for having me. Let me give a quick intro of who I am. My name is Jordan Leopold, and I’m a student here at California State University, East Bay, studying economics, business, and political science. I’m a Hayward native, the eldest of three in an adopted family and raised by a single parent. Yeah, I’m trying to have an impact on the people as much as possible. 

Muhammad: So explain what do you do outside of school.

Leopold: In addition to going to school full-time, I work part-time at First Republic Bank, doing digital banking. Also, I’m trying to figure out how I can have a social impact on people and myself. I consistently ask myself: how can I give back to the community or engage with people who look like me? I want to start connecting with my fellow African-American men in Hayward and then reach out everywhere else.

Photos by Jamal Muhammad/imediago
Photos by Jamal Muhammad/imediago

Muhammad: As we both know Donald J. Trump became the president of the “free world.” So what are your feelings towards his victory and why do you think Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton lost? Do you believe she lost because many Americans are not ready for a women president?

Leopold: Honestly, the results shocked me. I was looking at the electoral votes the night of the election. There was a little light of hope in the back of my mind. Saying “yeah Trump is in the lead right now,” but once he won it was a wake-up call for the nation. I think the results was more dividing than giving the fact that “he” was elected. I don’t think the country would feel the way that they feel right now if Hillary did win. Because the character that Donald possesses and if you look at everything he said during his campaign trail. We don’t have to recite everything he said about Mexicans, Blacks, gays, and women. His values and morals are pretty self-evident. The entire campaign was fuel on hate. Right? It was powered by putting the blame on someone else.

Muhammad: It was like a scapegoat.

Leopold: Exactly. And that was his tactic. Hillary tried the sympathy approach by appealing to everyone. She tried to say anything that sounds good through the eyes of the media and the public. I feel like because of that she didn’t come off as genuine. All people said that they didn’t vote for her because they couldn’t relate to her ideas. I think it’s sad because as you put it earlier “we have two candidates: one that can do the job but we don’t like and one that can’t do the job but many Americans enjoyed.” But we have to put it in perspective and vote for someone who we don’t like but can do the job. In the end, the president serves over 300 million people, and people don’t need any reality tv show drama to happen. *chuckles*

Muhammad: How the media’s coverage of the Trump campaign seems to have contributed to the country being divided. What did the media do or not do?

Leopold: Trump has been a public figure for years now. So he knows how to work the media, and he knows how to talk to people. Also, Trump knows how to make things appealing. So through media input and media coverage he had the lead in that respect. Traditionally, I think knowing how the media operates and how they took the information for their private agenda, people noticed that it wasn’t taken seriously. They weren’t critical when they had the opportunity to be critical of the things he had said. They took the route of “pop news” like BuzzFeed or a TMZ approach. Headlines like Trump says this again…” or What is he going to say next? not pointing out the wrong things Trump has said.

It was much dialogue surrounding that, well, at least from what I saw. We have to keep in mind that media isn’t just TV, but it is also social media. And I think we only follow the people we identify with such as our friends. Association brings similarities, so if I’m a progressive, you can assume my friends are liberal. We put ourselves in an echo chamber that only relays things we want to hear. So many Americans who vote for Hillary or Trump were only focusing on advertisements regarding their favorite candidate. For the most part, it didn’t allow constructive discussions, many voters’ decision came from a subjective standpoint.

Photos by Jamal Muhammad/imediago
Photos by Jamal Muhammad/imediago

 Muhammad: How the media’s coverage of the Clinton campaign may have contributed to enhancing Trump’s voter turnout, even though Trump made racist and demeaning comments towards women, Muslim, Latin immigrants, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

So I think the media’s influence when it came to Clinton’s campaign, they focused a lot on the Benghazi emails. It was heavily publicized versus Trump’s nonsense rants.  American citizens perceived Hillary as a criminal.  Also, the FBI came out and said we have more emails. I think that had an adverse impact on how she look towards the public. Trump didn’t get that type of attention even though he was faced with charges himself. On top of the demeaning statements and the hate speech, I think that people enjoyed Trump because he was speaking his mind and not coming off as a politician. Versus Hillary who said these things and is considered a liar.

Muhammad: Do you remember back in the 90’s when the Clintons were a part of the “War on Crime” campaign that incarcerated many African and Latino American men, during the post crack epidemic. Do you think that affected her campaign? Because she didn’t necessarily call every Black and Latin man “thugs.”

Leopold: Yes. I remember that she called them “super predators.” Even though people brought it up earlier in her campaign but it still didn’t sit well with many Americans. And looking back at those policies it didn’t help minorities as much as it should had. Also, she didn’t express much love to the movements that were going on. I mean she did shout out #BlackLivesMatter, but that isn’t enough. I think that if she were more charismatic it would have helped her win the election.

Muhammad: Many immigrants, Muslims, and African-Americans fear for their lives since Trump supporters are using Trump’s victory as an excuse to inflict hate crimes. How would life change for your Black, Latin immigrant, and Muslim friends?

The sharp increase of hate crimes will have a large impact on everybody, especially minorities. When looking across the nation, and you see swastika symbols, blatant name calling in public, or people getting physical harrassed it going to an enormous impact on our society. And neighborhoods are built by the interactions between individuals and communities so when we have a leader who is exuding hate it will cause an adverse domino effect because it is not uplifting the nation consciously.

Muhammad: I feel that Americans associate immigrants with mainly Latin people when other cultures from around the world move into the country.

Leopold: Personally, I have friends who are undocumented and are scared of the potential policies that could be put into place. Even friends who have their work visas are frightened that they might have to go home sooner than expected. And that is only going to destroy families and friendships. From a bigger standpoint, it will hurt the American economy because of a lot of the labor that most people don’t want to do immigrant do.

What middle aged blue or white collar worker wants to break their backs in the fields, making minimum wage or less? I wouldn’t work in the fields. Immigrants drive the agriculture industry specifically. People have to acknowledge that immigrants just want to make a better life for their families.  Even in the tech industry including Google, Facebook, Apple, and Tesla hires immigrants on working visas because it is so competitive to get a qualified engineer, so those businesses have to look elsewhere. So if the H-1B1 goes away, a good portion of the United States workforce goes with it. 

Muhammad: CNN commentator Van Jones said that Trump’s victory was a “white-lash” against a changing country and a black president. Do agree with this statement? Why or why not?

Leopold: Yeah, I think Van Jones had it right by stating that this election was the result of a white-lash. I mean if you look at the nonsense that has been given from Republicans and many others, it is anti- progressive or anti- Obama. Trump puts the blame for his supporters misfortunes on everyone who was against his ideas. Now, racist, sexist, and homophobic people are gaining confident in speaking their minds since Trump was elected president. So it really that the results of the election was a white-lash.

Muhammad: Ok. So what do have to say towards the people who believes that America is not racist because we elected a black president twice?

Leopold: First, I think that is a foolery statement. Second, racism will never die, and it doesn’t matter how much we want to be eradicated. And I believe that the reason why Barack did get elected because he is an intelligent, outspoken, and well-read leader.

Muhammad: A few days ago, you uploaded a video on Facebook which was received well by your peers. Explain what was the video about and what was the occasion?

Leopold: A student organization called Latinos Unidos Sin Fronteras organized a demonstration that united Latin students and others at Cal State East Bay. Luis Julian Cardenas, a friend, and a colleague, held the event to encourage people to stay optimistic since Trump won the election. And understanding that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Since I knew the organizer, I felt more comfortable to speak to students and encourage them to engage with this organization. Right after the election, everyone was mad, sad, and overwhelmed with emotions. Therefore, I tried to instill ideas in students that they should get involved politically and socially because it is so easy to be frustrated. This is our country. Right? We have the ability to change the political landscape if we wanted. Like I said before the electoral college chose the president, not the people. So now I’m motivating people just to stay active and equip themselves with forward-thinking.

Muhammad: In your Facebook video you speak about the electoral college. So do you think it is important for Americans to vote count even though the electoral college decides who becomes president?

Your vote does matter because there are other political offices, laws, and propositions to vote for, which is organized by the people. It is not only about the president of the United States. And that just comes down to people educated themselves.

Muhammad: According to NPR, 90 percent of Bernie’s voters were millennials. As a millennial do believe he would have been a good president?

I think that if Bernie Sanders were elected, he would have been a good president because he received a ridiculous amount of support. Voters were so disappointed that he didn’t get nominated they made threats that they were going to vote for Trump or not vote at all. Even though Hillary had more experience on a political stage, he would have done just as good of a job because he is passionate and he believes in the people. In that regard, I think the country would be better off he was president.

Muhammad: What were some of the ideas you agreed with from Bernie?

Leopold: Bernie was a morally just man, and it was made evident. From wanting to expose the corruption in the government and justice system to breaking up the well-established banks, Bernie has been passionate about equality for all. And I think that’s where Millennials related to him. He captured many ideas that millennials hold tight and dearly. That’s something Hillary didn’t do that at all. For example, when Bernie would say something Hillary would say the same thing, and it looked like she was trying to steal his voters.

Muhammad: Now, Bernie made promises that he would focus on making college “free.” Do agree with this policy, even though many states don’t have enough money to support that plan? And many people believe his ideas were far-fetch and that’s the reason why he wasn’t nominated. Do you think that was his downfall?

Leopold: I don’t think that was his downfall because many millennials are in college and were acquired a lot of debt. *chuckles* But do I believe that it is possible to make that happen? I don’t think so.  Even if Bernie became president, he would still have to go through a Congress that is full of Republicans so it would be nearly impossible to get a law like that passed. However, people do have to think about if college were free their taxes would increase.

Muhammad: Many Americans are highly upset that Trump became the president, so they engaged in several “FDT” and “Love Trumps Hate” protests across the country. Do you think that protesting will change anything and how do you believe we should move forward as a country?

Leopold: We have an obligation to protest when we’re dissatisfied with results given to us. And when you look at the past this encourages people to speak their minds. It is more important now because it is so easy not to participate. I think that protesting can have a tremendous impact on our society because it notifies people who don’t know how to get involved because they could have the same problems. Also, protesting can have an impact politically but only if it has a strategic plan behind it. Imagine protesting at the state’s capital or the White House that would be a massive wake up call.

“As a Country, we can’t Unite out of Anger or Fear but out of Love.”

Photos by Jamal Muhammad/imediago
Photos by Jamal Muhammad/imediago