Last night was just weird. The full-scale chaos of a Trump rally has still not sunk in. Was any of it real? Is it really 2016, and we as a nation, as Orange County, still divided as ever? After attending last night’s Trump rally in Costa Mesa, I can undoubtedly say yes.
As I made my way to report on the Trump gathering, I found myself trying to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for the hate speech I was in for. From the very first step I took on the fairgrounds, I’ve never felt so conscious of my Latina race. Are these Trump supporters going to heckle me at the very sight of my tan skin and black hair?
As I walked through the parking lot, I saw pack of bros shouting out something about making Mexico pay for a wall while they tailgated and drank Coors Light. I then received a phone call from my father, who wanted to check in on me. I found myself consciously refraining from speaking to him in Spanish because of my fear of Trump supporters singling me out and throwing empty beer cans at me or something. It was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever felt, a true fear of being myself and the attention it would bring. How am I having these thoughts in “culturally diverse” Orange County in 2016?
I then met up with my film crew, camera man, Matt Kollar and his friend and sound operator, Matt. Our plan to make it out unscathed from this cesspool of hate and bigotry was to ask questions in a polite and objective tone. We were hoping to passively get the worst from people through the neutral line of questions. Well, we didn’t.
To my surprise, most Trump supporters answered with eloquent rhetoric for why they were voting Trump—something I honestly thought they were incapable of. And not all of them were white. I actually interviewed a Mexican-American and a Chinese-American Trump supporter. (Video is coming soon!) A lesson about pre-conceived notions was definitely learned last night.
However, whenever confronted with their candidate’s sexist, racist and Islamophobic quotes, every supporter blamed the media for villainizing Trump and assured that he’s just misunderstood. You only believe what you want to believe, I guess.
While every Trump supporter I spoke to expressed their political opinion, there was still a sense of constraint in their answers. I’m not saying this because I didn’t get the blatantly bigoted answers I thought I would; I’m saying this because a lot of them had trouble keeping eye contact with me, especially when it came to talking about issues on immigration. What’s the matter: you didn’t have big-mouthed Trump around to say all the racist crap you really feel deep down?
The hate speech finally came out of the Trump supporters when protestors showed up and inspired it out of them. Then, it was all-out desmadre in Costa Mexico.
A group of bros from Rancho Santa Margarita finished an interview with me where they voiced their support for Trump in a cordial manner. But shortly after, they yelled at a Bernie Sanders supporter with, “Is Bernie gonna pay for your messed-up teeth, too, bro?”
I witnessed a group of young Chicana/os debate a white teen Trump supporter about privilege. The Trump supporter quickly ran out of answers. The Chicana/os began cheering “¡Quiere llorar!” (“He wants to cry,” a classic taunt at rock en español shows) and while half of me wanted to laugh my ass off, the other half thought the shade was a bit cruel.
Everywhere I looked, someone was in someone else’s face arguing about this nation of ours. At one point, a little Mexican boy no older than 7 confronted a middle-aged Trump supporter who was instigating arguments with anyone and everyone. “Sir, I’ve had enough,” the kid said. “I’m speaking from my heart—we must stop being so violent.” The middle age man started pressing the little boy on foreign policy, ending with “You don’t know what you’re talking about kid.” Stay classy, OC!
One young woman holding a “Make love, not walls” sign broke into tears as she told me how she felt like her vote and voice doesn’t even matter at this point. I hugged her, and decided I had enough. I walked away from the madness. I’ve never felt so much hate, anxiety, and anger in a single setting. My energy receptors were working overtime processing the eclectic mix of negative vibes. It was just too much. I drove home feeling completely numb, even though I had just witnessed first-hand my country burning down to the ground.