Over a long weekend of fireworks, face paint and flags, Fernando Herboso couldn't stop thinking about the new America he saw last week.
Herboso, 58, and his brother Carlos own a real estate agency, and they were showing a Muslim couple – a U.S. military veteran and his wife – a home in Frederick, Maryland, that seemed perfect.
The neighborhood even had a clubhouse. Carlos took them there to see it.
Turns out, the neighborhood also had hate.
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A woman lounging at the pool took one look at his client's hijab and said it loud and clear:
"We don't want Muslims in our clubhouse. Take off that robe over your head!" she boomed.
Carlos, 44, was flummoxed. He wanted to confront the woman, but didn't want to cause a scene. He instead went to the clubhouse manager, who was equally horrified by the outburst and apologized, explaining that the woman does not represent her diverse community.
The couple, who were used to such attacks, were gracious about the whole thing. They're still house-hunting in Frederick.
But this is not where the Herboso brothers' story – or their shock – ends.
Islamophobic attacks and other hate crimes are spiking sharply in the United States, especially since Donald Trump began suggesting that America ban all Muslims.
Fernando Herboso glimpsed the change in sentiment a few months ago. He was showing a different Muslim family a house, also in the Maryland suburbs. Their young daughter needed to use the bathroom. The water had been turned off at the house, so Fernando went to ask a neighbor who was outside gardening.
The woman glanced over Fernando's shoulder, saw the family, wearing traditional Muslim garb. She wordlessly went into her house and locked the door.
He posted something on a real estate agent's forum, wondering whether others have seen an increase in such bold displays of bigotry and whether they thought it was a new division in our country sowed by Trump's politics.
"My post somehow gave my colleagues in real estate permission to reach out to me with hateful comments about my Hispanic heritage," said Herboso, who was born in Bolivia. "I never experienced that before. I arrived to the U.S. in 1977 and have been a proud American since 1982."
In 25 years in real estate, many running his own company, he never felt discriminated against.
Suddenly, he was being attacked by agents he saw as peers. Guys who bantered MLS listings with him sent nasty emails and made phone calls urging him to go back to his country.
It felt, he said, "like they were wearing masks all these years. And they just took them off."
He got private emails, too, suggesting it was fine for neighbors to want to keep Muslims off their blocks.
Here is the part that was so shocking to both Herboso brothers – the silence they misunderstood for decades.
All these years, it wasn't untainted friendliness. It wasn't about those words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
It was racism and skepticism and hatred all along, Fernando said.
"I remember coming to D.C. and riding the Metro. And I wasn't a Hispanic on the Metro. I was just a person next to someone Chinese and someone Indian and someone Mexican. And we were all just people on the Metro."
And now, "I have to think that the racism part was always there," Herboso said. "But it was silenced."
He's worried not just as an American, but as a parent.
"I have a son. He is 8," Fernando said. "I don't want anybody to look at him like he's illegal. I want them to see him as a person. As an American."