I donated money to organizations who are working on the ground. I signed petitions. I shared posts asking for people with specific skills. But still I felt passive. I still felt overwhelmed and powerless. But I don’t see myself as an activist or one who goes to protests. I so rarely speak about politics publicly. I’m unsure of myself. I am a bit afraid of the crowds.
But I went to the protest and march in Battery Park yesterday. I figured even if it does nothing, at least I know that I did something. I stood up when I could.
So many times during the day tear sprung to my eyes. It was a very overwhelming and emotional experience.
There were so many people there. So many people fighting. I didn’t even have to follow my phone to get there, all I had to do was follow the people carrying signs. The workers for the ferry were saying “this way ferry, that way to the protest”. It was a real thing.
There were people who spoke about their personal stories of getting to America as a refugee; there were people who spoke about being undocumented and the fear of what will happen to them and their families. There were so many politicians who came out – judges, senators, congress people, and others who work for the State of New York and New Jersey. There were the politicians who said outright that this ban was stupid and that it is illegal. That they will fight until the fight is over, and encouraging the crowd to continue to go out and continue to fight. Senator Cory Booker reminded everyone that this will be a long and hard fight, we should know that, but we should never give up and give each other strength to continue the fight.
There were old people there, some where it was clear that standing was difficult for them but they were out. I found it amazing to see older women (I would guess 80’s) in pink pussy hats – still out protesting. There were whole families there. There were so many children of all ages. Some babies strapped to their parents. Kids on parent’s shoulders holding signs that they made and chanting along with the crowd. Pre-teens and teenagers standing with their parents in solidarity. And really – I didn’t see any kids complain or fuss. They were there. Their parents must have explained well or they just realized the importance of what they are doing. While watching them I thought to myself of what this is doing to them as children- what are they going to remember? Do they realize what they are really standing in protest about? How will the next generation interact with their government?
There was a sense of togetherness yesterday in the park. People were friendly. People smiled at one another. Really, I was not afraid of the crowd and really there was a crowd it was hard to move at times- but I wasn’t afraid. I know there were police around, how many I am not sure, but I felt safe.
Even though I have not lived in the US for over 8 years, this feels important. I feel like if I am here, I need to do something – I can’t ignore it. I think that really this is not only an American issue, this issue is taking place around the globe, just differently. The sanctions made by the president will (and are affecting) people from all nations around the world. America is a strong country, and if they are able to do such things what will stop other countries from doing something similar.
The speeches, the cheering, the sheer number of people standing there was really moving. I hope and pray that our actions will actually be able to create positive change. I hope that the checks and balances in our government will be able to get America back on track to being a country that people once again feel safe in; for it to return to being the home of the free and the brave.