Love Trumps Hate Kansas City
Two nights ago I documented a Love Trumps Hate protest at City Hall. It reminded a lot about when I use to work as a photojournalist. I miss being thrown in an assignment to witness first hand how the world felt about itself. I miss experiencing stories in my city that were not my own. I went not to necessarily attend, but to speculate as objectively as I could and try to get perspective on why people feel the way they do.
This year's election results left me feeling confused. I am the first born American son of two Vietnamese refugees that came over in the mid seventies. I am the first blood American in my entire family history. Growing up I was told by my parents that I needed to blend in with my American counterparts. My parents gave me a Vietnamese name but insisted that I be known as something more American as to stand out less.
It's been a strange upbringing on trying to understand my identity as a Vietnamese person adopting American ideals that my parents only understood so much about.
They weren't born here. And the second I was I was expected by everyone else to understand the way of American culture. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Forth of July, sure we participated but my experiences with those are so watered down compared to when I would go over to my white friend's holiday festivities.
We were different. Everyone knew we were different. All you have to do is glance at me. You don't even have to look. You don't even have to notice. The second I am seen I am different. My skin. My eyes. The food I eat. The activities I participate in.
Growing up people had little knowledge about my struggle blending in American culture with my parent's Vietnamese way. It was easier for people to assume that I just wasn't American. Forever foreigners to a land we were not from.
If I could truly be American I wouldn't always be asked where I'm from despite being born in Kansas. Me simply being American just wasn't the correct answer to people.
If a black person becomes president it becomes "more obvious" that a black person is capable of accomplishing great things. If a women becomes president, it helps inspire women to achieve great things. Or a gay person, or muslim, or christian, anything. Point is that the president is a symbol for the people. The metaphor for the fight to the top with mass approval. What can be said and done in the way of leading our nation. A catalyst of inspiration and hope with an identity in this country to inspire and propel our own ideas and actions.
The things they say and the things they do becomes part of their fight to the top. What the president says and does becomes hope for the people to say and do those very things in the name of their nation. It gives people a platform to relate to their own beliefs and reassures them what can be achieved in this country.
A man came into power and the concerns stem from whether the people use him as the platform to misinterpret the opportunity to spread hate more openly than before. As far as I'm concerned the ideas of who does and doesn't support hate just became more openly vague. Of course people are confused.
What he has said concerned many minority groups and now these minority groups are left to wonder how the people of this nation will interpret this behavior. His presidency only confirms that they very things he's said and done is supported. How much of a translation that is to the reflection of the people.
Confusion is unstable. It is unsure. It is afraid. Confusion turns into chaos. Quickly. I am confused. I am unsure. I am a bit sketched out personally, but I really want to give the situation the benefit of the doubt.
Call me a hippy. Call me a coward. I don't want to go into this situation guns up. The only thing that will keep me from jumping straight into chaos is to seek the other side with an open mind. I need perspective. Whether I agree with it or not.
Both of my parents were refugees. They taught me so much about being proud of how I am as a Vietnamese person but they felt so much pressure to make sure I didn't casted as the foreigner. And I think that's why I went out to this gathering. To better understand why people feel the things they do. People are scared. People are proud. People love. People hate.
I think me photographing the world is me trying to get insight on the things I do and don't understand about the world that I live in. Now more than ever I need to hold who I am close to me. Now more than ever I think I need to seek more interaction with the people of this world. Now more than ever I need perspective on the things I don't understand.
The Love Trumps Hate protest started at Union Station and went all the way to City Hall. The closer we got to City Hall the bigger the crowd became. Women, children, black, white, Asian, Mexican, muslim, gays, male, female, young, and old. You name it, they were there.
When everyone reached city hall the organizers starting passing a megaphone around. Each person talked about who they were, why they were concerned, their face to face encounters with hatred and unacceptance. Blacks, gays, immigrants, workers, and students. Relaying their cause and their support for one another.
I am unsure on what will happen in the next few years. The polls have closed and Trump being the president of the United States is a fact. There's no questioning that. How people choose to translate this fact I'm unsure. At this point I can only speculate.
I could care less what side of the fence you land on in this matter when I say this statement.