Tuesday, January 31, 2017

No Hate, No Fear, Immigrants Are Welcome Here

Just one week after I joined the Women's March in Washington D.C., I found myself marching once again—this time in a different city, for a different cause, but with similar intentions. The first days of Donald Trump's presidency have brought a seemingly endless stream of gut-punches to core American values, and this particular protest was a reaction to Trump's executive order barring immigrants from majority-Muslim countries and Syrian refugees.

I know that I can't possibly join every protest, but I've been so outraged and dismayed since the election—and even more so since the inauguration—that I just have to do something. It's important to me that I stand up for injustices when I see them, and not just when an issue directly affects my life. I also believe that all citizens, Americans and humans should be outraged whenever basic human rights are in jeopardy, and I feel that it's my duty to use the privilege I've been afforded to help draw attention to those less fortunate.

The protest took place on Sunday, two days after the executive order, and ran smoothly despite the quick turnaround. Because of the tight timeline, it did feel a bit more spontaneous than the Women's March, but I loved the last-minute nature of some of the signs and participants—time to polish is good, but scrappiness sometimes has more heart.

Thousands of people gathered in Battery Park, which has views of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The National Museum of the American Indian is nearby, as is the Museum of Jewish Heritage. After a rally featuring speeches by Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Linda Sarsour and others, we marched to the courthouses at Foley Square.

We marched past the World Trade Tower, and the site of the 9/11 attacks and it was very powerful to be protesting a muslim ban in a city that has lost the most lives to terrorist attacks on the US. New Yorkers aren't afraid of muslims or Syrians because we interact with them on a daily basis and know that they're just people—boring, mundane, annoying, wonderful, beautiful people.

I know that marches will not change everything (or sometimes anything) but I do think it's important for people to pitch in when and where they can. Stand up, speak up and let your voice be heard. This is just the very beginning, and we must not lose momentum and we must not lose hope. Hope that America—a nation of immigrants—is better than our President thinks we are, hope that there are good people out there that are finally standing up for what is right, and hope that we don't go back because the only way out is forward.