Zaina Alsous’ mother began wearing the hijab after 9-11 as a show of Muslim pride.
But, at the same time, “she started being extra polite,” Alsous said. “As if it were her responsibility to show how peaceful, how calm Muslims could be.”
It made Alsous angry. She and others shared their anger – along with their “full and ferocious love” and other emotions – Sunday as about 400 people came together at a Durham in Defiance rally at Durham Central Park.
It wasn’t a protest, exactly. Organizers said they didn’t want to take to the streets, as many have done across the United States since Donald Trump’s election Tuesday night.
Rather, “this gathering is for finding one another and grounding ourselves in the relationships and values that will strengthen our efforts to protect and love our people and ourselves, resist, win fights, and win power going forward,” organizers said in an announcement for the event.
Anger is actually an emotion of hope, speaker Bryan Proffitt said.
“It is a demand that the world be better, now,” he explained. One of the reasons Hillary Clinton lost and finished 6 million votes behind what President Barack Obama won in 2012 is because she didn’t speak to voters’ anger, he said.
“I’m fighting inequality, and not allowing anyone to think I’m OK with it,” said Alissandra Rodriguez of Chapel Hill, as she spoke with Patrick Snipes of Durham on the edge of the park.
“I think there is a disturbing number of parallels between (Trump’s) rise in this campaign and Hitler,” Snipes said. “And what we need to do now is oppose the rising fascist movement in this country.”
The rally had a festive air, with a deejay, poster making and a plastic tarp laid on the ground where the mostly young crowd could safely break glass bottles placed inside a bag to keep the shards from flying.
“The idea is to counter the divisiveness of the last months of the campaign with a space that values diversity,” said Anca Stefan. “It’s supposed to be a space of healing and reaffirmation, not so much a space of protest and standing against.”
Organizers said there would time to take to the streets later.