Thursday, December 4, 2014

What I Learned from My First Protest

Today I went to my first protest, to speak out against racism and injustice.

Originally I had not planned on going. Part of it was because i just wanted to go home after work, partly because I wasn't exactly sure what protesting accomplishes, and mostly because I was annoyed of everyone on facebook ...Honestly, did you really just realize that there was racism and injustice in America? If you were so "outraged" by this, why weren't you outraged before? Why did it take people to die for you to finally take out your phone and post an article on facebook before going back to your life?

Basically, as my friend put it, "i'm very disappointed that you would be shocked at the verdict."

So because i imagined a protest to be a waste of valuable home time, lacking direction/goals, and a huge walking facebook, i planned on not going.

But then as the day went on and my colleagues, who have been in protests before, started rallying and gearing up to go, i made  a last minute decision to join them.

And boy am i glad i did.

Here's are two things I, personally, learned about protesting:

1) It's about showing others you care: As we walked down harlem with our signs, we had several elderly black people stop to thank us for what we were about to do. Protesting isn't about just showing your disapproval and anger. A large part of it is about showing people affected that you're standing by them, and that you too, alongside them, believe that change needs to happen. It's about showing each other that we are not alone in the fight.

2) It's about changing minds: Not just the minds of lawmakers and changing policies, but also changing the mindset of protesters. At one point of the protest we had someone start to chant "FU*K THE NYPD!!!!" And right then and there, a protest organizer turned around and said "woah woah woah, that is NOT what we're about". And when we started walking down, one guy started banging on a truck. Again, someone stepped in and said "we are NOT about violence or disturbance". Protesting isn't just about voicing out your opinions, it's also about changing some of the negative attitudes that comes with the anger.

So, for those of you voicing your opinions on facebook, keep doing it- but just know that you aren't really learning anything by sitting at your computer reading article after article, fueling your anger by reading about other people's anger too.

Go out. Experience what it's really like to fight for equality for others.

 You'll learn that there's more to it than just feeling "ashamed" and "angry" to live in America.

**** short funny story:
As we were walking by with a sign that said "black lives matter", one homeless black man shouted out "hey! im black! and i need CHANGE!"
get it?
touche sir, touche.

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