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Opinion

Readers React: Not everyone in Bakersfield is a Trump-supporting xenophobe, readers say

Oildale

Oildale resident Charles Leland, who supports Donald Trump, displays the confederate flag, a gift he received from his nephew in Alabama. 

(Los Angeles Times)

The Times got Bakersfield’s attention, and not in a good way.

An article on Monday that led off with the quote “I don’t like Mexicans” from a Donald-Trump supporting resident of Oildale elicited a strong reaction from some Times readers in Bakersfield, which borders the predominantly white, conservative community. They said the piece, which profiled the Central Valley town that “might be as close as California gets to Trump Country,” unfairly trumpeted division and resentment in Oildale and amounted to journalistic malpractice.

With only one exception, everyone who wrote from Bakersfield (liberals included) defended Oildale and their hometown. Here are some of their letters.

Kern County Supervisor Mike Maggard speaks up for his constituents:

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This piece resurrects old stereotypes.

The fact of the matter is that this small pocket of Oildale could hardly be considered a bellwether for Trump in California. Five out of the six people interviewed are not even registered to vote, yet they were portrayed as a bellwether for Trump? This is akin to searching skid row for unregistered folks to comment on Bernie Sanders’ chances in Los Angeles.

As the Kern County supervisor who represents Oildale, I know the real character of this community first hand. Oildale is a working-class, blue-collar community whose independence, grit and work ethic will propel itself to transcend its challenges. This same nature will enable them to dust off this unfair portrayal and choose the candidate of their preference.

This is the right of all Americans, including those from humble Oildale.

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Bakersfield resident Jeanette Allen compares her hometown to Los Angeles:

For some reason, people still look at my hometown of Bakersfield as redneck country. To them, we’re all Republicans, country folks and barefoot ignoramuses.

I am so tired of this. Bakersfield has come a long way. There are expensive homes and people who own luxury cars. We have great schools. I’m Mexican American and well educated. I grew up in an upper-middle-class neighborhood, just like most of my family.

Bakersfield is not perfect, but your reporter should have written about more of my hometown. The water is drinkable from the tap, and we say hello to each other. But you made us look like fools, and we are sick of it.

Have you seen the people in L.A. lately? My Mexican family lived near Redondo Beach for several years. When I went to a school that was nearly all white, I was called horrible names. My mother told me to ignore those who taunted me. Incredibly, my counselor put me in a Spanish class thinking I needed it. I didn’t enjoy the course and asked to be transferred; my counselor was surprised I didn’t like Spanish.

This anecdote about L.A. may seem off message, but it goes to show how I was treated then contrasts with how I am embraced here. No one here is perfect, but neither are any of you people in Los Angeles.

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