What it's like to protest Donald Trump in NYC as a multiracial woman
I started crying at around 11:30 p.m.. I was inconsolable by one in the morning. And at three, when it became clear that Donald Trump was going to be my Commander in Chief, I went to bed in a haze — a balled up knot of uncertainty settling in my stomach and a wave of nausea overwhelming my body.
The mood of the line was festive — halfway into our wait, two women passed out celebratory Oreos, and another followed their example a few minutes later, handing out Kit-Kats and Reese’s to “thank everyone for making history.” There was no way she could lose, we thought — we were worried about the Senate; the Presidential Election was safe.
A photo posted by Hillary Clinton (@hillaryclinton) on Nov 9, 2016 at 11:03am PST
Work on November 9th was somber — we sat at our cubicles in shock. I blinked back tears as I watched CNN’s live coverage of Hillary’s concession speech and Obama’s statement on my computer. A co-worker asked, at 11 a.m., if it was too early to start drinking. Another fed us a cake she had stress-baked while watching the election results. We abandoned our usual healthy lunches in favor of comfort food: one co-worker bought herself Matzo ball soup; I ate Cheetos.
Trump’s election left me antsy, anxious to do something, anything to help the millions of people who would be impacted by a possible rollback of civil liberties under President Trump. I exchanged a flurry of emails with my friends about Japanese internment, a rise in anti-Muslim hate-crimes, Hitler, and mass deportations, as the day went on. Donating to the ACLU didn’t feel like enough.
A photo posted by Ms. Foundation (@msfoundation) on Nov 9, 2016 at 4:04pm PST
#I’m Still With Her
In the hours after the election result, a group of one hundred women of color — activists from the Working Families Party, the National Immigration Law Center, and the African-American Policy Forum — among other groups, published an open letter to the country that voted for Donald Trump. Activists were forming a circle around the USS Maine monument when I arrived at 4:30 p.m.. The mood was solemn at first — they held up signs declaring, “Not My President,” “My Body, My Rights,” “Donald Trump Go Away, Racist, Sexist, Anti-Gay” in silence.
My view of the Trump sign on the building in front of us was blocked by a Ben and Jerry’s stand offering free ice cream — I took it. The crowd began to grow as what had been a light drizzle turned into rain. It grew more densely packed as a circle of NYPD officers surrounded us, herding us closer together in an effort to leave at least part of the heavily trafficked plaza clear.
The double-decker tourist buses slowed down as the people on top took pictures. A group of restaurant workers, dressed in white, came to join us before work; high school students, too young to vote but angry about the outcome, arrived after school let out. A drum circle set up next to the Ben and Jerry’s tent — to the beat of their music we chanted: “Hey, Ho, Donald Trump Has Got to Go!” “Love Trumps Hate!” “Black Lives Matter!” “Pussy Grabs Back!”
It was dark by now, and I could see the lighted windows of the Trump Hotel, and the silhouettes of dozens of people inside, lit by yellow light, standing by the floor to ceiling windows, watching the protest.
A photo posted by Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) on Nov 9, 2016 at 6:47am PST
As the chants gained energy and volume, I started talking to a couple standing next to me, Leslie, a 28-year-old lesbian, and Francis, 30, transgender. I asked them how they were feeling about the election and why they were at the protest.
A man carrying a sign at the protest echoed Francis’s and Leslie’s concerns. He described his election night: “I was feeling bad, really really bad, phenomally bad. Once I realized Florida was lost, and North Carolina was trending bad, that was about when I lost hope, at around 10:30 or so.”
When I asked him what he was worried about, he pointed immediately to foreign policy, telling me, “I’m concerned about his foreign policy, especially with respect to U.S. intervention in the Middle East.”
They spoke and they sang to inspire us, to remind us that, though we lost, the power of the people to enact a better future is limitless. “Love still trumps hate,” they said, “though it might take a little longer than we expected.”
A photo posted by Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) on Nov 9, 2016 at 2:22pm PST
“I feel a lot lighter”
The mood lightened after the speeches. The crowd began to sing, and I saw Francis and Leslie again, giving each other a hug and swaying to the beat of the music. I asked them how they felt after the rally. Leslie responded, “I feel a lot lighter, I have a lot more faith in people, and in the power of organization. I felt very good to be in a group of people of all different colors and religions who are affected.” They told me that they planned to keep fighting.
Grab the pussy back #lovehatetrump #notmypresident #gophandsoffme #women #stand #together #power #express #fight #back #protest #revolution #history #usa #newyork #city #for #clinton #icpwethepeople @icp @nytimes @newyorkerphoto
A photo posted by Mandar Parab (@mandar.photography) on Nov 11, 2016 at 9:29am PST
No one knows what Donald Trump will do in office. I wish him good luck. I want to believe that the office will change him, that he will appoint competent advisors who will enact policies that will really “Make America Great.” But if he doesn’t change, and if he does actually try to enact the worst of what he promised on the campaign trail, I still have hope.
In the words of a man walking to the subway next to the protest: