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A Spanish-speaking news anchor was booed and told to get off the stage when her commencement speech at a California college turned to the topic of Donald Trump.
Maria Elena Salinas, an anchor for Spanish language broadcast network Univision, felt her keynote address to California State University, Fullerton on Sunday was well received, according to the Washington Post. She was presented with an honorary doctorate, and spoke some words in Spanish to the parents of graduates at the school where 40 percent of the student body is Hispanic.
However, she received quite a different reaction to her speech at the College of Communications in a separate ceremony later that morning.
In a video of the speech, yelling can be heard as Salinas begins to speak about presumptive Republican nominee Trump, the Post reported.
“… they blame us so much for so many things, that now they’re even blaming us, the media, for creating Donald Trump. Imagine that,” she said as yells come from the crowd. “Isn’t that terrible? But we didn’t, right? Who did it?” she asked. “I don’t know. Who did it? But they’re to blame.”
“If you allow me to say a few words in Spanish,” she then said, and was met with someone calling out “No!” When she asked a few moments later if they would allow her to do something important, someone responded by yelling “No!” and another yelled, “Get off the stage!”
“I would say it was tense throughout the speech,” said Denise De La Cruz, a graduating senior. “I looked around and a lot of graduates were visibly upset — some were muttering criticisms.”
De La Cruz, writing for the OC Weekly, described the crowd reaction:
“The Univision broadcaster began specifically congratulating Latino journalism graduates for what seemed like a large chunk of her speech. She then began speaking in Spanish … This left non-journalism grads and non-Latinos/non-Spanish speakers feeling excluded. Parents in the audience and even students in the ceremony began demanding Salinas switch to a more inclusive tone by shouting phrases such as, ‘What about us?!’
Tensions worsened as Salinas began offering advice to journalism students to use the tools of media to rebut political figures such as Donald Trump. That’s when folks began yelling things to Salinas such as, ‘Get off the stage!’ and ‘Trash!'”
Salinas could hear the yelling, she said Tuesday, but did not know what people were saying. Since the speech, Salinas said she has received many rude comments on social media, even being told to go back to Mexico, despite the fact that was born and raised in California, the Post reported.
“It’s really sad that people can turn such a special moment into a racial war,” she said. “Because it seems like that is what has happened. I don’t think I insulted anyone by saying a few words in Spanish to the parents. The whole speech was directed to everyone. … I think the message is, we have to cool down the intolerance right now, we really do. This is ugly, what’s happening in the country.”
Graduates on social media noted that the reaction was not due to racism, but to Salinas only addressing one ethnic group instead of the whole student body. Another said students were unhappy about the political spin of what should have been a speech for graduates.
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Video from The Washington Post.
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