On Monday, Johari Osayi Idusuyi was caught on camera reading a book behind presidential hopeful Donald Trump at a rally in Springfield, Illinois. Many are calling what she did a protest against the xenophobic Republican. Her reading selection seems particularly intentional—Claudia Rankine's award-winning book Citizen, which is a collection of poems about race in America. But Idusuyi insists that her intention was never to disrupt Trump or bother any of his supporters. She says she actually came to see if he could change her mind.
In an interview with local news station WICS, she admitted she isn't a fan, but wondered if her opinion of Trump was largely the result of how he's portrayed in the media, so she was curious to see him in person.
I came here, yes, to observe a man that I already had low expectations for, but I thought maybe he could change my mind. Maybe it was just a media thing and I'm judging too fast based on what the media says and I was wrong, I wasn't. He was exactly what I expected him to be and his supporters are exactly what I expected them to be.
Why was Idusuyi directly behind Trump? She says she was invited to sit there by his staff for "obvious reasons." She listened to him for awhile, but the scene got ugly and she lost all interest in the proceedings. Idusuyi told Jezebel that she didn't like the way Trump dealt with some protestors:
Like I said, we went with an open mind and then it all started. There were some “Dump Trump” protesters. The way the supporters treated the protestors was really unbelievable and that’s what made me mad. All four of us as a collective group, our energy shifted. The way Donald Trump said, “Get them out of here”—when you say those words, that activates your supporters to be able to be the same way. Then there was a man who snatched a lady’s Obama hat. She was one of the protesters and was leaving and her hair just went with the hat. Then he threw it into crowd and everybody cheered. I thought, “That’s bullying. That’s aggressive.” I don’t think Trump handled it with grace. I thought, “Oh, you’re really not empathetic at all.” That’s when the shift happened.
To hear 10,000 people cheer for something so disrespectful is what made me so mad. And that’s when I was like, I am now genuinely not interested in your speech. I wanted to leave, but I came, I’m in the middle, I’m on camera, so I might as well read because I don’t have anything else to do. I’m not going to waste my time listening to somebody who I can’t respect anymore, so I started to read.
After Idusuyi took out her book, a couple sitting nearby tried to get her to put it away. When she refused, they gave her the death stare, but she didn't stop reading. Johari Osayi Idusuyi is inspiring readers and peaceful protesters, and encouraging Trump security to search people for reading materials at the door.