I walked around Houston with a Trump/Hitler mashup poster
And the reactions were pretty surprising
Now that Donald Trump is dangerously close to becoming our next president, I decided that drastic times call for drastic measures. Curious to see how people in Houston, Texas feel about Trump, I went around with a poster featuring a series of Trump/Hitler mashups.
I created the Trumpler poster this past semester due to his presence at my college campus for a Republican debate.
I originally hadn’t planned on creating anything, but after realizing many students were only interested in getting featured on television, I was motivated to attempt to send a message to Trump himself. I compared him to Adolf Hitler mainly because they both have used fear and hatred to gain political power. Linguist and Political Scientist Noam Chomsky explains it in an interview with Alternet.
Recently, I decided to revive the poster and showcase it outside the safety of my college campus, in order to document how different groups of people would react.
On the first day, I traveled to Downtown Houston, an area known as Houston’s central business district. I wanted to see how older working class people would respond. Most of the business workers ignored the poster, but one man ran outside to tell me that he understood and appreciated the cause. However, a driver did shout, “Trump 2016!” and sped off. A fairly uneventful first day, honestly.
The second day, however, was far more interesting. This day I traveled to the Galleria, which is the largest mall in Texas, and sat alongside a crosswalk. Due to the creepy nature of the poster, I decided to close it when small children approached. Over a period of two hours, I made many observations about people I encountered.
People of all races appeared to be afraid of me
Whether it was pulling their significant other away from me, or crossing the street at a different area, people displayed their unease and went to great lengths to avoid me. After noticing this, I decided to stand up and smile at people with my poster.
Once I did this, more people came towards me and acknowledged my effort. In fact, a Hispanic family decided to take a picture with me. The smallest member of their family, who appeared to be around age 5, even smiled at the picture after my demeanor changed.
Some people my age, mainly black women, were more worried about who I was rather than what I was holding
For example, at a point when a group of people made positive comments about my poster, a group of about 5 Black people walked past: 1 man and 4 women. The man replied, “I’m down with the cause”. However, the women looked at him, then me, and rolled their eyes. I deduced that since they didn’t glance at my poster, their glare was not a result of it, but because of the attention I received.
I was rather shocked and annoyed to be met with a “Who do you think you are?” gaze constantly by women.
Some men were more concerned about me than what I held in my hands. Many briefly glanced at my poster, then proceeded to look me up and down and watch me.
Despite what we see in the media, not all White people support Trump
In fact, MOST of the positive comments I received that day came from older, White women. No one waved a gun at me.
No one was arrested. I literally sat there for two hours without any sort of issue. I’m not dismissing that these events happen, but if we don’t want to be generalized, we shouldn’t generalize others. It was a pleasant surprise.
I only received two negative comments, both from men
The first was an older man who told me to throw away my poster. The second occurrence was interesting. A man, who was about my age, nicely inquired about my poster and then left for the mall. About two hours later, my boyfriend and I had ended the observations and decided to shop. I noticed the man from earlier, but he did not notice me.
Seeing I had left my post, he turned to his girlfriend and stated, “The bitch with the Trump poster is gone.” I moved into his line of sight and said, “Hey. I’m not a bitch.” Dumbfounded, all he could comment was, “Well… this is awkward.” Instead of yelling at him, I just smiled and crossed the street.
I believe he was calling me a bitch because I am a woman, not due to my poster.
Through my experiences, I learned a few things.
In a time where hate and fear run rampant, we must come together to push for change
Activism is a powerful thing, but it shouldn’t be done for fame and popularity. Nonconformity is a lifestyle, not a trend. If you readily speak out against injustices and prejudices on Twitter and Facebook, then I expect you to transcend past those posts and change your world around you. Just because there aren’t cameras everywhere you go, does not mean the cause is not worth it. Promote positive action instead of hashtags.
With that being said, don’t envy someone who actually gets attention for their efforts. Each time I lifted that poster I was extremely nervous because I did not know if I would somehow stumble across a white supremacist. But each time I lifted that poster there were people who thought it was a bad idea initially, yet tried to take credit for it after I received attention, or people who were only upset at the fact their male friends paid attention to me.
That poster and the attention it received is minuscule in comparison to the people who simply live their lives in protest by going against the status quo; people who knowingly risk and even sometimes lose their lives to the ignorance that Donald Trump has encouraged. Instead of envying people who take chances like this every day, genuinely emulate their ambitions, and maybe we could actually make a difference. Instead of looking at who is doing the talking, listen to the message.
Lastly, after changing my attitude from serious to approachable, people were more willing to acknowledge my message. Whether it’s a silent protest or not, your attitude defines your message. No matter how angry you are, it will not prove your point. Your resilience, intellect, and perseverance will.
In a world of Trumps, we have to acknowledge our own biases and be willing to listen and learn. Our own hate has the potential to be our end. We must not let hate win.