Anti-hate rally held in Kalamazoo holds a candle in the darkness

Manny Tsang, J1 Staff writer

John McNeill
A large crowd turned out on an overcast night for the rally and demonstration downtown. 


Last night, there was a rally held at Bronson park in order to show solidarity within the community and to band against fear. More than 500 people showed up. With riveting speeches from various community heads, such as Jay Maddock, who runs the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center, it delivered a message of unity and fighting against darkness.

As someone who was there, it was something to see. Whether it was the proud voices chanting for love, that one lady who flipped me off from her car, or the cars honking repeatedly, whether in support or opposition, there was an energy giving off a sense of togetherness. However, this doesn’t mean I am entirely happy with it.

As someone who heavily supports direct action, it was disappointing to see the lack of action. While I thought the people who gave speeches were inspiring, the amount of talking compared to the amount of doing was terrible. There was about an hour and five minutes of talking, and only about 25 minutes of marching. And we didn’t even march with a purpose, just in a circle to spread our message. The issue with just going in a circle instead of marching towards something, whether it be a government building or a monument used to support hate, is the lack of an actual message. Doing this is just creating an echo chamber for people to self congratulate each other without making a plan to do something. I am willing to bet at least 60% of the people at that rally will not do many more things in order to combat the racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and transphobia that they were yelling about being against.

Even though I am critical of the protest, it does not mean I do not support it. And while many people were against it, for various reasons, I think that some were misunderstanding the meaning of the march. An argument people had with the march is that fact that they aren’t changing anything. We were all aware that a group of people in Kalamazoo won’t change the nation. Anyone who believed that it would is slightly delusional. But this protest, along with the others happening across the nation, were meant to say one thing. It was that we will not sit passively while people who support hate towards people based on external traits are elected into office. It was also meant to show that we, as a group, are willing to support people being oppressed in our community and fight so that the oppression doesn’t happen again. Another argument is that there isn’t any hate to fight, that Trump said he would uphold the right for gay couples to marry because it is an amendment. This doesn’t mean anything. Roe vs. Wade is an amendment, and people fight against it all the time. And so what if Trump says he supports gay people or only hates the “bad hombres?”  His vice president believes you can electrocute gay people into being straight and actively encourages it. He wants to bring in laws preventing an entire religion from being in the US. If he is also going to elect people to his staff and cabinet that do hate gay people and do hate people of color, then that means he is ok with this hate. Birds of a feather often flock together, and if someone is willing to surround themselves with “white nationalists” and people who support “family values,” then I don’t think it is impulsive to consider Trump to be a bigot.

Overall, it was a very positive experience, if a bit lackluster. It was nice to know there are many people in my community that are against hate, but it wasn’t great due to the lack of action. There are also many complaints against this protest, which I think are unjustified.