pink hats, music and conversation

Put on the teapot, this is a long one....

At the close of my concert Saturday night, (January 21 - also the day of the March for Women) I had my first direct encounter with a DJT supporter. I walked away empowered and felt that a conversation had begun. More on that in a bit. A little back story:

Never an activist before this election, (or at least less public, more quiet support) I'd walked in the Seattle march amongst my 175,000 closest allies that morning, proudly donning my beautiful, hand-knit pink hat and feeling every bit the power of the sister (and brother)-hood happening around the world. What intensity and lump-in-throat meaningful empowerment in this movement. Whew.

Later that day, went to play a gig in Conway, WA. I had the pink hat in my bag. 
Nothing super special about this gig over any other, except it was a songwriter-in-the-round show, with two other wonderful women on stage together, taking turns sharing our musical craft, and the date booked happened to fall on what would become this historic day. It was meaningful to us, but we weren't planning to 'soapbox' ambush the show.

Midway through the the event, I was about to play a brand new song I'd written, inspired/drawn out of me by the times, and felt compelled to don the pink hat for the occasion. 
The crowd cheered. Hadn't known what to expect, among fans/friends and strangers in a small town, and that support was potent. The song, was still a little rough around the edges, and I stumbled a bit and powered on through, to great applause. The concert went on to it's lovely conclusion and I kept the hat on.

Next came the conversation. Here's how it went down:
(Paraphrased)

TS=Trump Supporter (it happened so fast, I didn't catch her name)
jm=yours truly

I notice the woman, around 60 or so, smiling, standing at the edge of the stage, as I'm putting my ukuleles etc in case, cables in a tangle.
I had seen her come in before the show. She'd come to see another band in same bldg, and I happened to overhear as the venue owner told her, "I think you'll really like this concert over the other, these performers are wonderful." So I was delighted that she was in the audience, randomly landed by that sweet endorsement.

jm: Hi, thanks for coming to the concert.
TS: Thanks. Can I ask you a question?

jm: sure, (stop action to face her)

TS: your friends told me the significance of the pink hat, which I didn't know about. I heard about the many thousands of people that marched wearing them, and heard that the majority are frightened about a Trump presidency. I was just curious, what are you all frightened of?

jm: (thinking...WOW) Well, I can only speak for myself, (and decide to state simply, rather than go into politic-issues-speak) but many of the concerns about his character and actions towards women that came out throughout the campaign cause serious concerns about this man landing in such a position of power. Anger is another.

TS: well, what?

jm: There's the conversation caught on the bus...

TS: oh that. (rolls eyes and dismissively waves her hand) but fear? And by the way, I'm not trying to challenge you, I'm just curious. I remember feeling frightened too, when Obama was re-elected.

jm: (reeling, but keeping composed) 
Okay, he has ZERO political experience. AND is now the POTUS...

TS: well, yeah, but?

jm: (inside screaming...) The fact that he shows an immature, Twitter-rampant reactionary response to everything, with a skin as thin as single-ply toilet paper, concerns me that he has the codes and power to push the button.

At this point I see her wrinkle her nose....

TS: Yes, that bugs me too. He needs to stop tweeting...And again, I'm not trying to challenge you, I'm just trying to understand.

(I really LOVE that she was genuinely curious, and honored, in a strange way, that she picked me as the one to talk with. Never once combative. Now, I'm recognizing that this is what we're in for, in the sense of removing the "US vs THEM' divisiveness we're in for, for the next however long....)

jm: I appreciate your willingness to ask. We may not agree, but this divisiveness has to stop and conversations like this one has to start, so thank you.

At this point, somehow we are now holding hands in a warmth I had not expected.

TS: thank you, I appreciate your talking to me, and loved your poetic music.

jm: and I thank you.

I continue putting away the gear, head-spinning at the encounter, but largely empowered by imperfect humanness of the moment.

Comments

On President's Day I sent out an email blast through MailChimp with me singing a protest song from the 40s called "Close Your Eyes and Point Your Finger," (or "The Blood Type Song,") which is about how no matter where you go, you'll find someone with the same type blood as you. Pretty simple. I dedicated it to Trump in response to his immigration ban. The photo I posted with it was of Trump pointing at his own head. It was funny and I got a lot of funny responses. However - Here is one of the responses I received: "Another leftwing lib. We should have known that all the jerks live to California. Don't contact me. Go Donald. Finally an American president, as opposed to the muslim, anti-semite, un-American, racist. As a Jew you are probably one of the drones who put the creep in office." I must say, I stared for a long time at her message (it was from a women) and decided not to answer it, but her name must have been on my list twice, because soon after that, I got this from her: "You need attendees, you leftist lib? Why are you contacting me again? Everyone in Calif. should be going to your "show". You showed yourself the door with us." I usually use my mailing list to announce gigs and recordings, so I think that's what she's referring to there. Anyway, I realized I would have to let this go. I also imagine that she's not alone. There are sooo many angry people out there whose rhetoric and tone are meant to incite, I believe. It was the first time I understood people's fear of a civil war. If this woman had confronted me in person, I would have been speechless, I think. And frightened. It made be feel the opposite of the uplifting, inspiring Women's March. I just wanted to relate this to you. Your experience is wonderful. - Tracy Newman (Here's the recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvEvfGGPXns)
 

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