Former White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon isn’t well-liked, to say the least. The conservative political figure and former executive chairman of Breitbart News is regarded by some as an alt-right leader, and, to put it bluntly, as a racist because of his views on immigration and Latinos. Those sentiments is mainly why he is sometimes dropped by institutions who initially offer him a speaking engagement only to be bashed by their followers, as was the case with the New Yorker Festival.
The Economist, however, didn’t. They hosted him to speak at The Open Future Festival over the weekend, and while several of their other speakers pulled out of the event, the publication went forward with Bannon. Some on social media found the discourse between Bannon and interviewer Zanny Minton boring, Minton did address his racist views. Though there was another person that took the conversation even further.
DREAMer, activist, and author Julissa Arce, was also at that event, and amazingly confronted Bannon. During the Q&A portion, Arce was the first to raise her hand. She stood up and told Bannon that as a former undocumented citizen, and now proud American citizen, she wonders why he lies to people when he says immigrants like her are taking the jobs of American citizens and why he supports tax cuts for the very wealthy and corporations.
“These corporations are not for workers, but for shareholders,” Arce said. “What’s really eradicating the middle class is not people like me, it’s corporations and the 1 percent.”
For a second after Arce finished that sentence, it seemed as if Minton was going to interrupt her, but Arce continued and said: “Since you like reading so much, I brought you a copy of my book so you can learn about people like me.”
Bannon said that he wanted her to sign it later, if she could, to which Arce wonderfully replied: “I already did.”
Watch the entire exchange below.
I asked Steve Bannon about his lies that immigrants are taking American jobs, and the GOP tax bill being for the benefit of corporations and not the worker. I also said, “here is a copy of my book, so you can learn about people like me.” pic.twitter.com/zmhXBge0Of
— Julissa Natzely Arce Raya (@julissaarce) September 16, 2018
Arce was one of the scheduled speakers at the Open Future Festival who decided to proceed with her appearance despite her offense of Bannon at the festival. In The Economist, Arce writes about her decision to be at the festival saying that she felt it would be important to share her story as a person who used to be undocumented immigrant.
“I am the immigrant that groups like [Center for Immigration Studies] find so scary and dangerous to America. I want to be on the same stage as them, and I want to speak for myself. I want to share my story with The Economist audience. I might be the first actual formerly undocumented immigrant that they hear from, and I take pride in this fact. I will not let CIS or Steve Bannon take away an opportunity for me to speak up for my community.”
She also tells HipLatina that she did not plan on confronting Bannon before doing so.
“I didn’t even think we could ask him questions,” Arce said. “My skin crawled as soon I saw him walk on stage. But I knew that I had to face him head on and call him out on his lies that create economic anxiety and fear of immigrants but does nothing to create jobs.”
Arce is the author of “My (Underground) American Dream” and the newly released “Someone Like Me.”