May 24, 2016, is a day that will stick in my mind forever. Sure, that was the day that I finished my sophomore year of high school, but that pales in comparison to what I did after that. I had never done anything as brave as what I did that day, and I will be hard-pressed to do anything so brave (and terrifying) ever again.
I yelled at Donald Trump.
You've probably heard about the catastrophic riots that occurred in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when Donald Trump came here for his rally. For the record, I was not involved in any of these riots; I was home in bed, watching it on CNN just like most of Albuquerque. However, I did go to the rally, and it was an experience unlike any other.
When my friends and I heard about Donald Trump's plans to come our city, we were shocked. After what he's said about Mexicans, what kind of nerve does it take to come to the state with the highest percentage of Hispanics and Latinos in the country? We're all liberal debate kids, so of course we jumped at the chance to go and make fun of the monstrosity that was set to speak.
When we got there, the line was insane. It snaked all through Albuquerque's downtown area, and it was three hours before the rally was even set to start. As we waited in line, I talked to my friends about how shocking it was that this many residents supported Trump; of course, everyone there was white, but we live in a state full of minorities, and it was saddening to see how many racists we had in our community.
On all sides of us, there were booths selling Trump and anti-Hillary memorabilia. One of my friends, Maya, was being rather quiet, but we were all so wrapped up in our conversation we didn't think anything of it. About three-quarters of the way through the line, though, I finally realized that the usually loud Maya was silent, and I looked over to see her hunched over, holding her arms against her chest. As soon as we made eye contact, she opened her arms and, piece by piece, assorted disgusting, racist, sexist things stolen from the memorabilia booths fell out.
The line started moving quickly as we began donning the hideous souvenirs. We didn't have time to take pictures wearing them outside, so we decided we'd just leave them on as we went into the rally. Little did we know, this decision was an intense stroke of luck.
As we walked in and started looking for a place to stand, two men approached us.
"Hi there. We're with the Trump campaign, and we're really glad to see young fans like you two attending a rally," one of the men said to us. "Would you like to go to the VIP section?"
We looked at each other, wide-eyed, and accepted their offer. As we were escorted there, the rest of our friends watched on in disbelief. We had infiltrated the rally.
By this time, we had about two hours to kill, so we started talking to the people around us. We played our part perfectly, pretending we liked Donald Trump. Miss New Mexico was sitting next to me and wearing a hat emblazoned with the phrase HOT GIRLS VOTE TRUMP. An elderly woman sitting nearby told us that she was a prisoner of war in World War II. There were literal white supremacists sitting near us.
But the scariest person was a man by Maya. He told us about the "combat cane" that he was carrying. It was a cane made out of solid steel with a hooked end, which had the main purpose of hurting people he didn't like, including, he told us, protesters.
At that moment, we realized what we were getting into. We both questioned our actions, but ultimately decided that we couldn't let these people terrify us into silence. Now it was just a waiting game.
At about six o'clock, anticipation started building. Chants were yelled, people excitedly checked the time, the crowd started getting restless; the entire time, Maya and I participated. We were even interviewed by the AP. Then, two local preachers came onto the stage. I recognized one of these men as someone who rabidly argued against transgender bathroom rights. The other is something of a local celebrity, named Skip Heitzig. Both men spoke about Hillary Clinton — one stated that even Bill Clinton wouldn't vote for her — and they ended their speech with a prayer for Donald Trump to win the election. It was beyond weird.
Another half-hour went by, a man with the Trump campaign came out and discouraged protesting (oops). Finally "Y'all Ready for This" blared through the speakers.
Mr. Donald Trump was walking on stage.
I don't think I've ever had such a visceral feeling in my life. As Trump started talking, I began planning what I would say. He made racist comments almost immediately, calling Elizabeth Warren "Pocahontas" (because she has said she is of Native American descent).
As soon as he started talking about building a wall, I knew I needed to speak up.
"Mr. Trump!" I yelled as loud as I could. "You say Mexican immigrants are rapists, but didn't your ex-wife accuse you of the same thing? You're the rapist!"
I have never seen people as shocked as the supporters in our section, with whom we had become friends. They thought we were fellow supporters, and when we showed our true colors, they showed theirs.
"GET OUT OF HERE!" one yelled in my face.
"YOU'RE THE REASON WHY WE'D BUILD A WALL!" another woman screamed in Maya's face.
That's when Trump turned to me and started berating me.
"How old is this kid?" he asked the crowd. "Get him outta here... Still wearing diapers. Look at this kid... I'm telling you, the kid looks like he's 10 years old... That's unbelievable. That's the youngest protester I've ever seen."
As we were escorted out, we had to run because people were trying to hit and grab us. I was so pumped up on adrenaline, I didn't even care. Friends later told me Trump talked about us for longer than he had for any of the other protesters; I must have gotten under his skin, they said.
Stepping into the evening air from where we had been kicked out, Maya and I burst into laughter. We then joined the other protesters, who commended us for our courage.
The highlight of our night was when a crazy supporter managed to find us and tried to fight Maya. She told us she was "the CIA's daughter," and we were Al-Qaeda. She said she wished that I would get "raped in prison." I told her to fix her eyeliner and walked away. The crowd roared with laughter, and the woman sulked away.
I didn't even think anything of my actions until the next day, when my phone started blowing up with texts asking if that was really me on TV. I thought I might just be on local news, but then I got online and came to find out that the comments that Trump made about me (as well as my protesting) were on Good Morning America (who called me a "little boy" — I get it, I look young), Fox News (ew), PBS, CNN, CBS News, and a variety of other media outlets.
A lot of people have asked me if I was humiliated being all over the internet and TV like that, but I was so proud of myself for standing up to a bully like Donald Trump. And really, if the worst insult he can come up with is my age, he clearly was grasping at straws. Don't you remember, Mr. Trump? I'm the future of this nation.