On November 9th, 2016, tensions were high in Washington D.C. and all around the United States. The reason being is because Donald J. Trump was elected for President of the United States. These results were heart-breaking to many Americans. Specifically Americans who are of color, Muslims, people of the LGBTQ community, and people who are not native to America were feeling panicked. Black people, particularly have been struggling against police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement has taken America by storm. Muslims have increasingly been the victims of hate crimes and speech, as well as members of the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, transgender people committing suicide and being targeted is also at an all-time high.
Donald J. Trump has done nothing to support these marginalized minority groups. In fact, he outwardly contributes to the hate towards people of color, people of Muslim faith, LGBTQ community, and immigrants. His campaign has been based on several bigoted perspectives, such as building a wall on the border between United States and Mexico and claiming he will “Make Mexico pay for it.” He also wants to start a registry for all people of Islamic faith.
These are the few examples that are valid reasons to why people are protesting against the election results. Protests were held across America in various large cities. The protest in Los Angeles even made it onto the freeway. On November 11th, there was a Deaf Night Life event in Chinatown, which a few friends and I decided to attend. After socializing for a bit, we decided to leave early, around 10PM.
As soon as we walked out, me and my hearing friends noticed a commotion underneath the Chinatown gate. The group of us approached in curiosity. We discovered that it was a protest against Donald Trump! We immediately began participating in their chanting and listened intently to their messages. At first, I was taken aback because I had never experienced a protest before. Also, I was intimidated by the amount of people standing in the middle of an intersection. There were about 200 people initially. The protest group started to walk down the street, chanting “Off the sidewalks, into the streets!” to pull more people into our protest. We all walked down the streets in Chinatown, chanting things such as, “Not my President!”, “Who’s streets? Our streets!”, and “We reject the President-Elect!”
While I was walking, I quickly realized how inaccessible this was to my deaf friend and any other deaf people in the protest who wanted to participate as well. Me and my friends began signing the chants along with shouting with the rest of protesters. My deaf friend caught on and was on Facebook Live most of the protest to share with the rest of the community. One other hearing participant noticed us signing and actively copied our signing. It made me smile that this one person was genuinely interested in signing along with us. I felt included in this protest when the other protester decided to join in with our signing chants. We walked for quite a while until we reached the freeway. I felt a rush of adrenaline as me, my friends, and about 150 other people climbed up onto the freeway, chanting and raising our fists. Cars stalled in traffic, some drivers had their phones out to record us, others raised their fists in solidarity and smiled at us. Once we were chased off the freeway by a police blockage, we marched for a while more until the group dissipated and walked into the Metro. There were only about 30 people remaining when we reconvened in the Metro.
The apparent leader of the protest shared a few words and reminded us to think of the people who were unable to make it to the protest today, those who are actually afraid for their lives in the streets of Washington D.C. The leader told us that we were marching for those people and that we stand, march, and chant in solidarity for them. We all clapped for each other and the leader asked us all to do an “ASL applause” as well. I shed a tear while everyone shook their hands in the air.
This event had a profound impact on me because I learned about protesting culture and how it can be very inaccessible to people who are deaf and people with mobility issues. My deaf friend was excluded from this protest in the beginning. I think it would have been very helpful if the protest leader arranged to have an interpreter or at least someone who knew ASL.
In conclusion, the protest after Trump’s victory of the presidential race resulted in a lot of tension and protests. The protest I participated in was exhilarating, but at the same time an awakening to force me to check my hearing privilege when it comes to protests and marches. Moving on forward, I hope to involve myself in more protests and be available to any ASL users would who like to join and feel included.