I’m Black, and going to a Donald Trump rally was the scariest experience of my life
A Trump fan told my mother she was OK as ‘you’re only half-Negro’
Last weekend my mother and I attended a Donald Trump rally for the first time ever. Many people warned me about the dangers of being Black and going to a Trump rally, due to many Trump supporters’ dismissive viewpoints on racism. Black people have been known to be physically attacked or escorted out for protesting and even simply for just being there. A woman was shoved at a rally in Kentucky, a man was punched in North Carolina, and another was escorted from the premises in Las Vegas as the crowd shouted: “Light the motherfucker on fire.”
Even though I will acknowledge that not all Trump supporters are dangerous or evil people, I will never say that they aren’t fearful of the world around them. Having attended Trump’s rally in Houston, I now understand how appealing, yet dangerous Trump is. He is incredibly misleading. The entire time I was anxious, suspicious, and terrified, but I refused to let my feelings morph into hate towards the people who weren’t like me. The following is my experience at the Trump rally.
Even though I walked around with a smile on my face, it definitely wasn’t enough for those around me. Once my mother and I left the car, after a few feet, a random woman told me I could not take my laptop bag inside. She was not part of security. She was a mother, carrying a small child. I could see the fear in her eyes.
After separating from my mother to find the press sign in, I realized there were people in the line who were afraid of me. People stared at my black bag as if I had weapons inside, even though they knew there was a security check at the entrance. It probably didn’t help that I was struggling with it.
It took me 30 minutes to find the sign in area. Why? Because the State Troopers for some reason did not care for me. When I asked them a question, the State Troopers gave me the wrong answer. One even told me I could not enter at all. As I searched for the right entrance, they smirked at me walking back and forth in the 96 degree heat. Once I took notice of the trend, I only asked the Police Officers questions. They were noticeably kinder, and made sure I found what I was looking for: the way inside.
The temporary silver lining
I finally signed in and made it inside. While my mother still waited in line, I decided to interview two Trump supporters. I was extremely afraid because I had no idea how they would react to a little Black girl asking them questions. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Hector and Doreen were both incredibly sweet and sincere people.
When I asked Hector why he supported Trump, with a smile he told me: “Because I feel like he talks to me and not at me.” I then asked him if there were any issues that he disagrees with Trump on. After frowning, he once again returned to his cheerful disposition and retorted, “No.” I asked if I could take his picture, and in turn he asked if he could take mine also for when I “become famous”.
Shortly after, I interviewed a woman named Doreen. She appeared to be anxious yet friendly, and stayed close to a nearby wall. She told me that this was her first time ever being political, and she didn’t know what to expect. Doreen added: “This is a turning point in history. There will be change in Washington because of Trump. We are long overdue change.”
Hector and Doreen made me realize that Trump supporters are not necessarily Trump himself. Even as I waited in line to receive water, a few men let me get water before them and greeted me. I decided to walk around with a smile on my face because I knew it would emit a sense of trust and sincerity. I was incredibly afraid the entire time, but I couldn’t let the supporters know that. I was aware of the risks but if they knew I didn’t trust them, then why would they trust me?
At this point it may seem as though our experience was smooth sailing. Not quite. All of the events I’ve mentioned were before Trump’s unprofessionally late appearance. To make matters worse, we could not leave the pen during his speech in order to obtain a better view, nor were we allowed to stand on our chairs.
When he finally took the podium, Trump’s speech was fairly uneventful, but eye-opening. The tall orange man was in no shape or form intimidating. He actually reminded me of the overdramatic girlfriend in movies that whispered their friend’s insecurities, ultimately leading to their own friend’s downfall.
He didn’t speak with intelligence, using his own word, “bigly”, and he manipulated common knowledge ideas to further the crowd’s fear. He brought awareness to mass murders, but only when the shooter was Muslim. He mentioned Benghazi, San Bernardino, and Orlando. At one point, he even told the crowd that, “Muslims want to kill gays and enslave women, and Hillary wants more of these people in the country.” However, Trump could not end the night without romanticizing his proposed wall to “protect our borders”. He described it as a “beautiful wall that’s going to be so big. It’s going to be as beautiful as a wall can be.”
With each random statement, the crowd grew increasingly jubilant, until his demeanor changed. “Is there anyone is the crowd who isn’t going to vote for me in November?” he asked. At this moment, my experience at the rally went downhill. The supporters’ expressions changed from excitement to suspicion. They looked around the room for anyone who raised their hand. Some people even turned to look at me.
At this point, my mother was denied entry into the rally because the center had reached the maximum capacity. There were 20,000 people in attendance, and the one person I knew I could trust in the crowd was not allowed inside.
The atmosphere was obviously anti-Islamic, and subtly against minorities in general. My mother, who was still outside, was told that she was OK in a couple’s book because they “could tell she was only half Negro.”
A man took a selfie with her without her consent as though she were some circus animal.
A woman and her daughter asked among themselves why my mother was there in line with them.
People flew Confederate flags as if it were no big deal.
Trump supporters also criticized a group of people in a car, who were playing Mexican music loudly. They complained: “Their music isn’t even good. Like who plays the accordion anymore? It’s horrible!”
Once I left the rally, I was forced to remember that the crowd I was in was not only comprised of people like Hector and Doreen. As I walked out, I was behind a man. I startled him, despite us being in a crowd of several thousand. He lifted up the side of his shirt, placed his hand on his empty holster, and turned to face me. In shock, we just looked at each other. He then moved several feet behind me and watched as I walked away.
My stomach dropped. This man reached for his holster. For simply walking several feet behind him.
After this, I walked between two lines of state troopers and police officers. I felt defenseless. I saw the state troopers who enjoyed sending me on a wild goose chase, and I saw the police officers who sympathized with me.
I then took a picture of a Confederate flag that had “Trump 2016” written on it. A young man who was standing with the flag nudged his friend, and both watched me closely. Another group of men noticed my actions, but instead of a cold glare, they gave me a sadistic and terrifying gaze.
As I walked to find my mother’s car, a man wearing a Donald Trump mask drove by and stared at me. I felt as though I were in the Purge. Women purposely bumped into me, then stared at me as if I were nothing. At this point, it didn’t matter how much I smiled at people. My dark skin was brighter than my forced smile.
But despite my experience, I will never allow my fear develop into hate.