Her name was Jalale. I met her in Portland, Ore., at Joey Gibson’s Patriot Prayer Rally. She was sitting inconspicuously under the shade of a tree, surrounded by several people. It looked like they were in a heated argument. There wasn’t a lot of tension but it was easy to see the people in the dialogue weren’t friends or agreeing with each other. Two black gentlemen were scolding Jalale. Once someone looked at her it was very easy to figure out why. Jalale was wearing a “Make America Great Again” Hat and a Trump 2020 t-shirt, but that was not the most interesting part about her; Jalale was also an Ethiopian immigrant.
This past summer I put myself out there and started attending protests, marches and rallies. I was at a Brett Kavanaugh protest right before this semester started. I was at Berkeley to observe Refuse Fascism. I’ve seen Antifa face to face. Police have shot deterrents like flash grenades and tear gas over my head.
I’m choosing to write about my experience to give others a first hand perspective of these controversial events. Jalele was someone who stood out to me at the Joey Gibson’s Patriot Prayer because she was an Ethiopian immigrant who supported President Trump. You do not see that every day, nor do you see that on the news. Before I started going out myself, it was easy for me to believe that all Trump supporters were white, southern, male racists. It wasn’t until I went to conservative rallies and met LGBT, black, immigrant and women Trump supporters. Did you ever think that members of the LGBT community would support Donald Trump?
In fact, I seldom saw only white people gathered in support of Trump. When I met Jalale, I ended up having to defend her from those who considered themselves a part of the black community. They were calling her terrible names. One man even referred to her as a hooker saying, “She knew what she was doing coming out here dressed like this.” It was sad for me to see members of the black community verbally abusing an immigrant for her political beliefs.
I have faced verbal attacks myself when I visited a protest outside Maxine Waters’ office in Los Angeles. I was labeled a “Token Minority” by members of the “Black Lives Matter” movement and the Black Panthers because I was with my friend who was white. My friend was also physically attacked, spat upon and chased out by proponents of the political left. In Berkeley, Calif., I was labeled an infiltrator because I had a white friend with me, and told to leave the side of the area before trouble starts.
Luckily, my experiences at these events were not all bad. I was able to find individuals on the left side of the political spectrum who wanted to have a conversation. One feminist I talked to was disheartened by the screaming and yelling. She told me that there had to be a more effective way of communicating disagreements. We both understood the polarization that politics was facing, and fascinating enough we both agreed on many things. We discussed education, small versus big government, the mainstream media and more. We realize that we actually had a lot more in common than what people want you to believe, especially about the media.
My experience at these events has taught me several things. First, everyone should attend a protest, march, or rally as a spectator and not as a participant. When attending these events, it is important for everyone to broaden their horizons and stand on the opposing side to their views. I walked with Antifa members and saw their actions for myself. Instead of being afraid I chose to experience something extremely controversial and uncomfortable.
Second, conversation with people of varying viewpoints will help to broaden the horizons of everyone. In Portland,Ore., I talked to a person who identified herself as a “Tranny for Trump.” She told me that left-leaning individuals like to ignore people like her. They think she does not exist because it is not “normal” to be conservative and identify with the LGBT community.
Lastly, don’t believe everything you hear from the mainstream media when it comes to these events. The media typically likes to show specific narratives about events that do not always match what actually happened there. Some events were violent but the media said they were peaceful. I suggest going to opposing political events, spectate and find good people to talk to.
There are crazies and radicals on both sides, but there are sane and civil people on both as well. It’s important to find the balance and broaden your political views by engaging with one another in conversation and experience. Only by having civil dialogue can we push our nation to become a better version of itself.