Perspective: Surviving in the epicenter of the country’s political division

by Trinity Bland, Opinion Editor

East Coast pride is something that can be seen (or heard) over a mile away. Typically, natives are some of the loudest and proudest, representing their city wherever they go. I can attest to this being an East Coast native myself. 

This was no different when I came to San Diego State as a freshman in 2018. I made sure people knew I wasn’t from California, whether it was intentional or not. Many times, my mannerisms and things like the way I spoke, dressed and my music taste could say it more immediately than I could verbally share. 

If I had a dollar for every time someone from California told me, “Oh, we can tell you’re not from here,” I’d be living luxuriously. 

I didn’t mind it though. I was glad people knew I wasn’t from California and while spending four years or more in California meant inevitably adapting to west coast culture, I never wanted to fully conform to California customs. I love being from the east coast but far more, I love being from Washington, DC. 

DC, Chocolate City, Washington, The District, Politics Central, The Nation’s Capital, whatever you prefer to call it — it’s home to many including Smithsonian museums and memorials, great food spots, world-class universities, award-winning sports teams and so many amazing people from all walks of life.

I’m used to historical events of any magnitude happening in my own backyard. Experiencing tourists from all over the world come to DC to indulge in the sights is nothing new for me. Despite the exception that major things happen in my city regularly, people go to work, come to sightsee, it’s lively yet quiet, and the routine starts all over the very next day. I’m grateful I grew up constantly witnessing these significantly special moments because it really showed me just how wonderful my city is.

On Jan. 6, when a multitude of pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, it felt like my own home had been broken into by mad intruders. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on the news but it became concretely real when I saw exactly what was happening on CNN also on friends’ Instagram stories as they were working downtown — all on lockdown — some even in the Capitol, the sacred place that was monstrously violated. 

I received a plethora of text messages, DMs, calls and many ‘stay safe’, ‘thinking of you’ wishes from people who were not natives to DC and messages from friends who lived in the area who were like me, absolutely petrified — and there have been too many instances where we as Americans have felt this way for far too long. 

Within the multitude of messages, I was constantly asked about how I felt, seeing this all unfold in my own backyard and what my city was like during a literal coup. Aside from being anxious, on edge, in shock and finding it difficult to come to terms with the real issues at hand in the moment, what I knew for certain was that it was all heartbreaking, it was all a mess and the correct charges against the mob needed to be locked into effect immediately.

Anyone who knows me at the core knows I’m not a person who is scared of many things but this was something that I could’ve ever imagined witnessing live, and it was something that opened my eyes to the deep division in the country. 

Being a Black-American woman, it wasn’t like I didn’t possess enough consciousness to clearly understand the great American divide because I do. However, this event was certainly something that didn’t need to happen. Incited by President Trump as a result of his presidential election loss, the mob was led to believe they could overturn the results by storming the U.S. Capitol.

False.

Instead, they harassed, killed, stole, tased, disrupted and disturbed. They placed fear in the American people, those of color and ultimately, yes, DC natives. 

Due to this tragic and embarrassing occurrence in our country, with the Biden-Harris administration newly in office, my city looks like a war zone. Security has been amped up as many streets are blocked off and have members of the National Guard on every corner. There are fences standing at seven feet around the Capitol and it’s almost unrecognizable to the natives but alas, the actions of Jan. 6. have presented the consequences. 

Simply surviving and staying safe are really the next steps for all DC natives. My neighbors are paranoid, scared and apprehensive about what could unfold over the next few days. I share similar feelings but being wise when it comes to whereabouts is extremely crucial for everyone. Even more than the rest of the country, I feel DC natives must expect the unexpected and be prepared for the worst as we are in the thick of it. 

Now, don’t get me wrong — I will still unapologetically represent the city like it’s written on my forehead and insist that anyone who hasn’t been to DC must visit at least once during their lifetime. 

None of this changes the strong pride I feel being from DC but if this changes anything for me, I really want to do everything in my power to ensure my city and all of its natives are safe and secure. We’ve endured too much. Enough is enough. 

Trinity Bland is a junior studying television, film and media. Follow her on Twitter @trinityaliciaa.

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