Sunday, November 13th 2016

“Love Trumps Hate” was the slogan the protest organizers chose for their Facebook event, and the assertion painted on multiple signs that night. However, as with the march the day after the election, a select few in the crowd weren’t on board. The slogans they were trying to push on the crowd that was 10 times their size disturbed me. Anti-police chants, chants meant to incite violence, and other hateful words caused me to distance myself. I did not want to even be photographed near them. Yet I remained quiet. I knew that the majority of the crowd believed in the power of love.
Towards the end of the night, the tensions escalated, and I did my best not to intervene. However, when the masked crowd encircled the Trump supporter back at the capitol building, my blood began to boil. I could not stand idly by and let an extreme minority’s actions speak for me. My existence as a Muslim American was already misrepresented enough.
At some point in the night, I realized that everyone’s eyes and three camera lenses were on me. Even the next morning, when I was the subject of the headline of the school newspaper, I didn’t realize that what I had done was a big deal. Ben Wear, the Austin American Statesman traffic correspondent that had asked me a few questions Sunday night emailed me for a follow up interview . My family members, friends, and peers were suddenly bombarding me on social media. Soon, I was faced with messages of love and support from complete strangers, and it warmed my heart. For the next two weeks, I was emotional and prone to random bouts of crying.
I am quite glad that the hype has died down. The “spotlight” has a paralyzing effect on me. Although the story continues to circulate, and although I will always been known as the “Muslim woman who shielded the Trump supporter,” I am enjoying relatively low levels of fame and notoriety. My real work has and will always be behind the scenes.

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