ChrisWeigant.com

Guest Author -- Protesting The Inauguration: An Honest Reflection

[ Posted Thursday, February 2nd, 2017 – 19:56 UTC ]

While I did not personally attend Donald Trump's Inauguration or the Women's March On Washington the next day, I am always a big fan of first-person reports of such events. So today I'm happy to introduce a guest author who did make the effort to protest Donald Trump's big day in person.

I was introduced to Teresa Johnson as a friend-of-a-friend, and told her I'd be happy to read her personal narrative of the experience of protesting Donald Trump's Inauguration. Eight years ago, I attended the swearing-in of Barack Obama, so I was interested to hear the differences between that happy day and what just took place in Washington, D.C. I was impressed with what she had written, and so decided to share it with my readers as well. I also asked her to write a paragraph to introduce herself to you, and here's what she wrote:

Teresa Johnson

Teresa Johnson
(All photographs ┬ęTeresa Johnson, 2017)

Teresa Johnson is an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland College Park as a journalism major with a concentration in women's studies. As a freelancer with her writing and communication skills, she became Editor-in-Chief of Psych2Go Magazine, a psychology-based publication for Millennials that she founded through social media in 2015. Teresa avidly explores networking and job opportunities in the communication and journalism fields.

So without further ado, here are Teresa Johnson's personal thoughts on what it was like to protest the Inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Protesting The Inauguration: An Honest Reflection

Momentarily, the Internet is inherently screaming. A whirlwind of events has occurred within the last couple of weeks throughout the U.S. such as the Inauguration of Donald Trump, the Women's March, as well as other protests towards other governmental actions that are currently being put in place. Before I reflect on the Inauguration protest, in which I witnessed both violent and nonviolent action, I want to make it clear that I am a white woman and I am aware of my privilege. With that being said, I also think that as a young adult, and as a woman, it is my duty to participate in the loud, unapologetic statement that millions of Americans are making. Throughout this rollercoaster of events, it made me realize that it's important to be vocal and to stop stooping my views to those that don't necessarily agree with me just to create a rose-colored-glasses kind of unity. There is still so much wrong with the way society views marginalized groups and contentious issues, and along with many, I have chosen not to pretend that it's not a problem. Always fight for what you believe in. So many people contemplate the idea that "protesting does nothing," but I'm here to rebut that and say: "Yes, protesting does do something."

I woke up around 5:00 A.M. on January 20, 2017 in Maryland, the day of Donald Trump's presidential Inauguration. Getting to the Metro was easy -- absolutely no traffic. When I got onto the train, there were probably about ten people in "Make America Great Again" hats, scarves, or something red and white that placed value on the idea of a Trump presidency. But it wasn't crowded, instead I had two seats to myself as I awkwardly looked at the floor of the Metro car. The entire time I was genuinely afraid to make any kind of eye contact to the surrounding group. I felt like they were silently judging me, because I was dressed in colorful thrifted garb, ideally not looking like any kind of Trump supporter -- or at least anyone sitting on the Metro that day. It was uncomfortable for myself, a liberal lady, to be sitting across from a white man that was very much Republican and was so open about that "damn exciting" day (to quote what a supporter said). If I hadn't been a white lady sitting on that Metro that day alone, would I have been looked at differently? These thoughts occupy my mind because of the rhetoric and violence of the Trump campaign towards marginalized groups.

 

Trump Protest Photo 01

Beside Trump Tower in Washington DC, an anxious reporter records a candid moment of concerned protesters

I met up with John, my friend and fellow University of Maryland classmate, who was going to protest with me that morning. He sported a Bernie Sanders shirt which clearly represented part of the protesting resistance. We definitely knew who was a supporter and who wasn't, when someone said under their breath: "fucking hippie," as John and I walked through the checkpoint by the Trump Hotel near 12th Street. We laughed the comment off. At one point John turned to me and said: "I'd like to see one black Trump supporter," as a means of indicating that there was a sea of white and hardly any people of color sprinkled within the audience we were milling about, besides the groups of protestors that reflected more diversity. I kid you not, upon hearing this remark, a white man with a white Trump hat turned around and slyly said with a sarcastic grin: "I'm black." He then turned and walked away. I just stared him down in disbelief, biting my water bottle, trying not to yell. In my head I just wanted to scream: "Where?!" It was an uncalled-for response to make, and that moment, to me, represented a taste of ignorant white supremacy.

 

Trump Protest Photo 02

Across from Trump Hotel, a group of protesters chant, "Black Lives Matter" and other phrases that express concern with Donald Trump's presidency while standing next to Trump supporters

I wish I could speak differently on what I experienced, but I felt like I was on a different planet. D.C. felt like an uncrowded colony of cold shoulders. There was no expression of intersectionality nor empathy. The protesters were spread throughout the street towards the Capitol and were chanting: "Black Lives Matter!" every so often, or: "Immigrants are welcome here!" while Trump supporters taunted protesters saying they couldn't do anything about Trump or quipping back with "Blue Lives Matter!" and ignoring all the societal movements the protesters were standing up for. It seemed like not one Trump supporter there knew what the Black Lives Matter movement truly represented, or really cared to interpret the message of the concerns that protesters shouted very vehemently. It made me feel really depressed and divided among people that looked like me. It's obvious that the protesting resistance cannot do anything about the incoming presidency, but it's important to let the media know that many people are not happy with what's going on. Protesting makes this statement to media outlets so that the world has a way of knowing that people in disapproval aren't idly sitting by.

 

Trump Protest Photo 03

The two men pictured here are part of the resistance, as they spoke to the crowd of protesters

Later, I ventured off to 13th and K Streets, where I heard from another friend that people were starting to riot. I missed the destruction of a Starbucks, but found a group of people in favor of legalizing weed, as a marijuana joint was passed around a circle near a line of armed police. A male with a megaphone was passing the audio device around to other individuals so they could openly express their concerns.

 

Trump Protest Photo 04

The megaphone was being passed around in a circle where people voiced their own concerns and motivated the crowd to stay strong together

Many people sported gas masks and bandannas to protect their faces from mace and tear gas. There was even some aftermath -- a few trashcans that had been lit on fire. This kind of action can bring up controversy in the grand scheme of protesting: some people are wary of destructive behavior because of the wrong kind of attention it displays in the media, but there are others in favor of it because they put in perspective that broken property can be fixed in a matter of weeks, but an oppressed individual's rights cannot. Even though views on violence in cases like these stir up the media's perception, both the peaceful and aggressive sides aim to accomplish the same goal in different responses -- even though destructive behavior is more consequential over maintaining peace.

 

Trump Protest Photo 06

Aftermath of a few trashcans and newsstands

I met a few individuals from Indiana who traveled down to D.C. for the Women's March and Inauguration Protest, and I helped them hold a sign at some point along the way that said: "I wanna contribute to the chaos, I don't wanna watch and then complain," which are lyrics from a song called "Twin Size Mattresses," by the band The Front Bottoms. The lyrics were definitely fitting for the occasion that I was settled into.

 

Trump Protest Photo 07

I became friends with a group of people from Indiana who came to D.C. for the protests

In the process of peacefully protesting, I was also able to make some cool new activist friends. We stood far enough away, but witnessed a limo catch fire and almost explode, as well as watching as police dropped several more rounds of tear gas onto onlookers and rioters.

 

Trump Protest Photo 05

A limo parked outside the Washington Post building started to smoke

My group only coughed on some of the gas, but luckily we weren't severely affected. Medics were around the area to help those afflicted, and I observed an older Asian man getting help from a nurse because he had been hit with tear gas.

 

Trump Protest Photo 08

Medics were scattered throughout areas that incorporated rioting and they were prepared to treat those affected by tear gas and any other kind of violence

Not only was this an unforgettable day, but this was a time in my life where I felt like I needed to help change the country in, yes, a small way through protesting, but I felt like a part of something so much bigger. Remember, people won't always like what you do, or stand up for certain issues with you, but it's so vital to believe in positive change. A majority of Millennials seem to tackle the important idea of incorporating a progressive outlook in the constantly changing society we live in. It's not to say that there's any silver lining for the chaos that recent authorities in power have created, however, it should be a wake-up call to many in terms of paying attention to how the government can actively affect a population.

 

Trump Protest Photo 09

A powerful photo that captures an upset member of the resistance dressed in black clothing and wearing a mask as they look over the crowd

A word of advice: just remember if you choose to speak out against the current government, or issues that are affecting the world globally and at home, always be intersectional. Intersectionality was a term I fully grasped in women's studies classes I took in college. It means to be inclusive of all individuals that experience oppression, are affected racially, gender- and sexuality-wise, culturally, class-wise, and all other groups that don't receive the same amount of privilege. This is especially important to hear from people like me -- the white population of the world. Recognize privilege, and use it respectfully and in ways to help others. It's okay to be privileged, but it's about knowing how to use it to create inclusive change. Don't leave anyone behind, because they're in this with you together, and they matter.

 

Trump Protest Photo 10

Two women held signs that made their message loud and clear that resistance was nigh

-- Teresa Johnson

 

Teresa can be found on LinkedIn:
www.linkedin.com/in/teresajohnso

 

30 Comments on “Guest Author -- Protesting The Inauguration: An Honest Reflection”

  1. [1] 
    michale wrote:

    Very well written commentary, ma'am..

    Thank you for sharing your first person perspective.. It is much appreciated...

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I sure hope that was just your opening salvo, Michale. :)

    I have a comment or two as well but, it will have to wait until much later tonight!

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale, do you think this guest author will participate in the comments section? Because, I hate commenting on these pieces when they don't.

  4. [4] 
    neilm wrote:

    Thanks Teresa. Great column. When it comes to violence at a rally, it indeed can ensure media attention. There is nothing like a few broken windows and tear gas to get the cameras rolling and shock the hoi polloi.

  5. [5] 
    neilm wrote:

    From prior thread.

    How likely are you to die from a terrorist attack or killed by an illegal immigrant?

    How likely was someone in New York City to die in a terrorist attack on the morning of Sep 11, 2001??

    You people always quote odds as if they have meaning...

    One of the life altering lessons of working for years on Wall St and the City is that I regard the key mechanism of life as an exercise in risk management. This is not be be conflated with the purpose of life, but rather the best way of creating the environment for the successful achievement of whatever your purpose is.

    e.g. if you want to travel the world and spend time learning about other cultures, and need time and money to achieve this, you want to retire as early as possible, so you save and play market odds to increase your chance of creating a nest egg sufficient.

    So, really, the odds are the only thing that have any meaning unless they directly oppose your purpose.

    For example, if you want to be the best tightrope walker, you would defy the odds of surviving to take mortal risks nobody else would.

    Odds are especially important when we are dealing with decisions that impact large populations and the impact of randomness is diminished.

  6. [6] 
    neilm wrote:

    So Teresa, a hypothetical.

    With the protests on Friday, without violence the cameras would have be focused on 45 and his bizarre speech, the protesters would have been invisible.

    On Saturday however the sheer volume of people at so many sites around the World was newsworthy, thus violence (of which there was none) was unnecessary.

    Having been in both crowds, did you feel this media calculation was taken into account? I ask because I was protesting when I was a student once, and a small group of agitators specifically said they were going to get glass on the street to get the TV cameras rolling.

  7. [7] 
    michale wrote:

    I sure hope that was just your opening salvo, Michale. :)

    Nope, that was my only comment.. While I do have some very definite opinions about her commentary, it deals with a subject matter that is very black and white to me.... er.. No pun intended... It's one of the few stances that really stokes my passions and, Ms Johnson seems like a decent enough sort and is not likely prepared for that passion.. :D

    So, I am going to respect her right to have her opinion and just leave it at that...

    Michale, do you think this guest author will participate in the comments section? Because, I hate commenting on these pieces when they don't.

    I honestly wish that guest authors WOULD follow up their comments where warranted.. It would be nice to know their thought processes that lead them to their opinions..

    But, on the other hand, I would imagine that guest authors (sans those Weigantians, of course) probably have a live outside of Weigantia and are not fully cognizant of the dynamic in play...

    Plus, to be perfectly honest, I doubt many who don't know us might not be prepared for the onslaught :D

    Politics is a contact sport to begin with and Weigantia is above and beyond.. WAY above and WAY beyond.. :D

  8. [8] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Theresa: enjoyed your column. I notice you worry alot about 'checking your privilege'. I wouldn't worry so much about that in Trump's America because, unless you've been offered a modeling job in NY lately, your 'privilege' diminished significantly the moment the Orange One stepped into the Oval office.

  9. [9] 
    michale wrote:

    From prior thread.

    I won't participate in the trashing of a Guest (Non Weigantian) Author's commentary..

    If you want to discuss anything (including this commentary) we can go back to the previous thread or wait until tonight's FTP to go at it...

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Who said anything about trashing a guest?

  11. [11] 
    michale wrote:

    Who said anything about trashing a guest?

    I was referring to trashing her commentary..

    Which is the usual result when I start addressing issues with facts.. :D

    She has something she can be proud of.. A published commentary on a respected forum.. Something she can link to her friends and say:

    "See!!! I did that!! That was me!!!"
    -Jamie Lee Curtis, TRUE LIES

    :D

    She doesn't need a bunch of flame wars on her Weigantian debut...

    That's just my opinion, of course..

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, I'll be commenting later tonight on this guest posting... after I finish digesting my required reading list for the day. :)

  13. [13] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    michale -

    Thank you for your discretion.

    :-)

    No matter what is written about them, I do enjoy providing first-person reports from attending political events. I write them myself when able to attend, but am always willing and eager to print other authors' points of view for big events in the political world (especially protests).

    So, again, thanks for not unloading.

    -CW

  14. [14] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Enjoyed this article, as a first person perspective is always more interesting to me.

    One thing did bother me:

    At one point John turned to me and said: "I'd like to see one black Trump supporter," as a means of indicating that there was a sea of white and hardly any people of color sprinkled within the audience we were milling about, besides the groups of protestors that reflected more diversity. I kid you not, upon hearing this remark, a white man with a white Trump hat turned around and slyly said with a sarcastic grin: "I'm black." He then turned and walked away. I just stared him down in disbelief, biting my water bottle, trying not to yell. In my head I just wanted to scream: "Where?!" It was an uncalled-for response to make, and that moment, to me, represented a taste of ignorant white supremacy.

    I don't get the outrage. Did you ever consider that he might be bi-racial and actually was "black"?

    Maybe his last name is "Black"?

    Unless there was more that occurred that got left out of the article, I just do not see how his response warranted being described as "a taste of ignorant white supremacy."

    I also wanted to ask one question about something you said.

    It means to be inclusive of all individuals that experience oppression, are affected racially, gender- and sexuality-wise, culturally, class-wise, and all other groups that don't receive the same amount of privilege. This is especially important to hear from people like me -- the white population of the world.

    Why do you assume that the "Black" man above didn't fit into any of these groups you want to be inclusive of? What makes being included by the white population of the world so especially important?

  15. [15] 
    michale wrote:

    Thank you for your discretion.

    :-)

    No matter what is written about them, I do enjoy providing first-person reports from attending political events. I write them myself when able to attend, but am always willing and eager to print other authors' points of view for big events in the political world (especially protests).

    So, again, thanks for not unloading.

    Yea, like I said.. She seemed a nice enough sort.. No sense in making her feel unwelcome, just for sharing her opinion..

    Thank you for acknowledging it.. It's very much appreciated... :D

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'd like to see a reply to that ...

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    That, of course, refers to [14].

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The hypersensitization of America is alive and well and may be at the root of its rapid decline.

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'm still going to comment, though, but there is no time for a thoughtful response right now ...

  20. [20] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Liz,

    Did I hit on the same thing that struck you with the article? I commend the author for her willingness to stand up and speak out for others, but I fear we have gotten too "us vs. them" in this country!

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Yes, more later .... just enough time and energy for a quick in and out, right now ... :(

  22. [22] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Teresa,

    This kind of action can bring up controversy in the grand scheme of protesting: some people are wary of destructive behavior because of the wrong kind of attention it displays in the media, but there are others in favor of it because they put in perspective that broken property can be fixed in a matter of weeks, but an oppressed individual's rights cannot. Even though views on violence in cases like these stir up the media's perception, both the peaceful and aggressive sides aim to accomplish the same goal in different responses -- even though destructive behavior is more consequential over maintaining peace.

    First off, thanks for taking the time to write about your experience in Washington at the inauguration of Donald Trump and attending protests. Certainly, there is no shortage of issues that call out for an effective American resistance to the policies and approach of Trump and his "pirate crew".

    But, what kind of American resistance will be most effective in the long run? I would wager that the effectiveness of any such action is inversely proprotional to the level of violence and destructive behavior that coincides with it and that the latter mitigates to a large extent the strength in numbers of any peaceful protest.

    Granted, it is difficult to garner the extended attention of the decidedly ADD-media but that in no way excuses the resort to violence and destructive behavior.

    The comparison made between broken property and an oppressed individual's rights seems quite counter-productive. And, I would argue that maintaining a peaceful protest does require a more sustained effort and a greater expenditure of physical and mental energy and, for that reason, is far more consequential in terms of positive productivity.

  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    A word of advice: just remember if you choose to speak out against the current government, or issues that are affecting the world globally and at home, always be intersectional. Intersectionality was a term I fully grasped in women's studies classes I took in college. It means to be inclusive of all individuals that experience oppression, are affected racially, gender- and sexuality-wise, culturally, class-wise, and all other groups that don't receive the same amount of privilege. This is especially important to hear from people like me -- the white population of the world. Recognize privilege, and use it respectfully and in ways to help others. It's okay to be privileged, but it's about knowing how to use it to create inclusive change. Don't leave anyone behind, because they're in this with you together, and they matter.

    Well, Teresa, we're all in the same boat ... we, citizens of the world. That I can definitely support!

    But, I have to say I'm ... uncomfortable ... not hypersensitive, mind you! :) ... with the notion of "intersectionality". Probably because I haven't the foggiest idea of what it means.

    Seriously, I had to read the paragraph above several times and I still don't really know what it is you are saying with respect to privilege and the white population of the world. So, I'm hoping you will have the time and energy to elaborate on that here ...

  24. [24] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    LizM [21] -

    Surprised Michale didn't provide this, so I guess it's up to me...

    "No time for the old in-and-out now, Love, just here to read the meter."
    -Little Alex, A Clockwork Orange

    Heh. Couldn't resist.

    :-)

    -CW

  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Heh.

    "Just in town on business. Just in and out. Ha. Just a little of the old in-and-out."

    What's that movie?

    I'm afraid it's just going to be a lot of the old in and out, for the foreseeable future ...

  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    By the way, we're missing a comment here, you know ...

  27. [27] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Liz,

    I think intersectionality just means a group contains different cross sections of our society.

    The one sentence that I would strike from her article is

    This is especially important to hear from people like me -- the white population of the world.

    I can't help but keep going back to in an attempt to restate it in a way that it doesn't sound arrogant to me, but I am at a loss. I do not think she meant it to be a statement of arrogance, but that is how it sounds to me.

    It amazes me how often people claim that our society has never done anything to address "white privilege" in this country. Does the term "Affirmative Action" ring a bell? We've been aware of how unfair it makes the playing field for minorities searching for work for decades. Granted, it's not just the work place that is affected by it, but it isn't a new issue that has been ignored either.

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Russ,

    I do not think she meant it to be a statement of arrogance, but that is how it sounds to me.

    Perhaps, it's not so much a statement of arrogance as a state of arrogance that can be so ingrained it can't be recognized or acknowledged.

    I was struck precisely as you were and was trying to think of a nicer way of putting it than you already have but I can't. There is a term for that kind of thinking, though ... extreme presumptuousness.

    In any event, I'm not expecting that we'll have the opportunity to tease out her thoughts in an exchange of ideas here ...

  29. [29] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Liz,

    Perhaps, it's not so much a statement of arrogance as a state of arrogance that can be so ingrained it can't be recognized or acknowledged.

    You NAILED it! Beautifully put!

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Thank-you ... thank-you very much. :)

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