“The Triggering,” an event hosted by Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos, Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers, and Steven Crowder at the University of Massachusetts, attracted a slew of protesters from all around campus.
Among them, I found two young students holding a bed sheet with the words, “Trigger Warning Hate Speech Inside,” scrawled in black paint. When asked about what it meant, the two told me it was to signal that the discussion inside could hurt someone subject to sexism, misogyny, xenophobia, and so on. One protester went on to explain that the words of that night’s guests were capable of triggering flashbacks and past experiences.
The first protester I questioned described all three speakers as, “equally terrible, objectively speaking.” He also expressed his disdain with Milo’s piece “Donald Trump Would Be the Real First Black President,” which raised a few questions.
“So are you denying Donald Trump’s ability to identify as black?” I asked.
“Yeah, because he’s white,” was the response.
“If I were to decide that I wanted to be black, I couldn’t identify as that, but other people can identify as whatever they want?” I pressed.
“No, you’re white,” he replied.
“So if I was Middle Eastern or Hispanic, I could identify as black?” I continued.
“Yes, but not based on those things,” he qualified.
“What dictates who can?” I asked.
“That’s a complicated question… You’re white, and you’re blond,”
At this point, the second protester holding the other end of their bed sheet motioned to me as his friend ran out of answers to give me: “First of all, you have to understand race is a construct. It is imposed upon others.”
He went on to explain that race is used to undermine others and ended up disagreeing with his partner by saying I could identify as black, but I would look like an idiot doing so.
These two students ended up continuing their protest during the event’s question and answer portion.
“How long did it take to soak those chairs in the blood of Muslims and rape survivors, and how does it feel to be sitting on that bloody history?” one asked.
Seconds after, his friend stepped up to the microphone.
“I wanted to ask if you were aware that the things you said before about Islam, and how that contributes to acts of violence against Muslim people and islamophobia, but you kind of already answered it so let me just say: f**k Trump, and black lives matter.”