There was nowhere to hide. Ninety minutes before the scheduled start time, there were already about 100 people standing on the floor level. The rest of the crowd filed into the bleachers that wrapped around three sides of the gym. There was a designated press area on the floor, but I was without credentials.
I had no proof that my anxiety was justified. After all, why wouldn’t this crowd, who skewed toward grandparent age, go to see a presidential candidate when he rolls through town? But my initial group of five had whittled down to two, and every time I looked up in the rafters, I found someone whose eyes were locked in on me, causing me to look away. When that happened, I’d occupy myself with my phone or converse with my lone companion, partially to chat, primarily to be seen talking to someone white.
I couldn’t believe it: I was actively attempting to give off "I’m here with white people" vibes in order to erase some of the frowns I felt, the whispers I was sure were about me. Eventually, we located the rest of our group — they were up top. And not just off to the side, in the middle of a packed section.
The startling difference from the Jeb rally was the sheer number of people present for Trump: Easily over 1,000 in the rafters alone, with a growing crowd down below.
Weaving my way through a section of bleachers, I alternated between smiling and looking down at my feet. That safety I felt at Jeb’s rally was no longer present: I was just a black guy at a Trump rally, and I knew people wanted to know what I was doing there — my intentions. Rock classics blared from the speakers — from Led Zeppelin’s "Communication Breakdown" to the Rolling Stones’ "She’s a Rainbow" to Elton John’s "Rocket Man." I knew all these songs and mouthed the words to most in the hope that this demonstration of traditionally white knowledge might make me temporarily colorless. The attempt was futile, however, and I just went back to opening and closing apps on my phone.
I wanted to disappear, but I couldn’t. While I acknowledged that this all could have been in my head, I needed Trump to finally hit the stage. Then, just minutes before his entrance, an omnipotent voice came through the speakers:
"If a protester starts demonstrating in the area around you, please do not touch or harm the protester." Laughter erupted in my section and throughout the venue.
I did a hard scan of the room from my balcony seat: Row by row, section by section. I couldn't find one black or brown person. I took a picture and put it on Instagram, with the caption "when I find a second black person, I will hug them tight and never let go."
Read the whole thing. This is America, and the year is 2016. We have a major party candidate who leads in virtually every poll and he is actively courting and drawing in an untold number of white supremacists and racists who are willing to go up to people of color and attack them.
Anyone in the Clinton campaign who is not paying attention is guilty of incompetence. What is being developed right now is a major, major theme that should resonate through the Democratic Party for all candidates, from the top on down--a vote for Trump is a vote for white supremacy. They need to start making ads right the hell now.