It's been a short time since President Donald Trump took office in January. It's not news that his inauguration was incredibly controversial. It sparked many heated debates, as well as global "protests."
I personally support the gathering of people in times of controversy. I also believe that peacefully protesting and marching against specific laws or orders is a useful way to communicate with people that you won't meet in person. That being said, I don't believe there's a point to protesting an actual person.
Many people have inauguration day stories. Mine started in my first period class on Jan. 20. My English teacher asked the class if we knew about a walkout planned as protest to Trump. She had somehow heard about it from the middle school, and I got the impression that no one in my class knew about it and thought it was just a rumor. Nonetheless, the class brushed over the futility of protesting a person who had already been elected.
In second period, I found out the protest was real when I looked out of my second story class and saw the marchers. I was curious about it, but it wasn't an option to skip AP Chemistry. One of my classmates stated that she would join if she could, and said something to the effect of "I'm mad enough to go protest, but I can't miss this class." I listened with interest, but as I said, I see no point in protesting a person.
In third period, my teacher told us we were welcome to miss class and join the protest. While I didn't necessarily agree with the protest, my interest was piqued, and I headed toward the demonstration.
When I first joined the marchers, I was a little nervous. I knew many had been there for two periods already and felt very strongly about the march. I, on the other hand, was there more out of curiosity than for support of the march itself, and I was worried that someone would say "Hey! You don't actually support us! Get out of here!" I'm pleased to say though, that no one gave me a second glance.
We walked from the right entrance of the school to the front entrance. Then we stood in a big circle for a little bit amidst the cold. It was a sobering moment of hushed mutters and contemplation until a marcher spoke up.
She referenced incidents from the first two hours of the day. Apparently, the protesters had received some harassment from a couple other students. She talked about the fear inspired by Trump's inauguration. I listened intently, because this fear, which I have heard about, had never reached me. She talked about supporting the people whose lives are affected by prejudices, especially those that are exacerbated by Trump's presidency.
The Trump "protest," was not about Donald Trump, and was not a protest. It was a solidarity coalition, merely inspired by Trump.
After the first girl spoke, several others discussed their own experiences. Many of them cried as they described how their families had been split up, and the costs paid to live in America, both legally, and illegally. One girl's mother was deported, so she takes care of her many siblings while her father works full time. She hasn't seen her mother in five years, and if she goes to Mexico, she won't be able to come back.
There was also a story of two young men, best friends, who came into the country illegally. One died in the desert. He had no burial. That was the risk they took to get into this country. The story was sad, but also inspiring. Even now, with all we are going through, this country is still amazing.
Joining the coalition proved a valuable experience for me. I learned a lot about the problems our country faces, such as immigration, and I learned about the effects of prejudices, such as Islamophobia. I also learned that marches dubbed "protest" are often about solidarity and not protest. I appreciate the messages expressed in this way, and I believe that they help alleviate some of the tensions that these controversial times can cause.
Overall, I'm thankful to my third period teacher for letting me join the coalition. It was a valuable experience, and it is these experiences, which put us in new situations, that often teach us the most.
Daisi Faville is a senior at Wilsonville High School.