Why I Protest

June 07, 2020

My Citizen app tells me that most of New York City were out on the streets yesterday. This music protest was one of the many protests that were simultaneously held in all five boroughs.

I will not lie--physical distancing was very tricky. I tried to stay on the sidewalk away from the main crowd as much as I could. Even though most were wearing masks as instructed by the organisers, there were still people who went without one or had their masks by their chin/neck. I was fully aware that this would be the biggest risk of attending a protest, but with any protest, there's always going to be risks involved.

In the year 2020, you know that the society has yet fully evolved when there are still so many cases of racism. As a minority in the US, this fact scares me. Yet having been in the minority race for the past 5 years as an overseas Filipino worker in Singapore, I cannot even begin to fully understand the pains brought about by people who cannot see past colour here in the US.

I joined the protest because I want an additional voice to be heard. I marched with a crowd to show solidarity. I chanted the battlecries to help add urgency to the cause. Most importantly, I joined the protest because I wanted to understand the issue more.

On the 6th Avenue leg of the protest, I saw a black man speak to his son intently while the marching protest was stopped for a music break. I did not hear what he told him but at the end of it he kissed his son's forehead. It made me recall Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit, and his blog post where he announced his decision to resign from Reddit's board. The reason was so he can make the world a better place, and so he can answer his black son one day when his son inevitably asks the question "What did you do?"

From that moment on, my literal perspective changed. Suddenly I was noticing a lot more of the protesters of all colours who were young parents. Some even brought their toddlers in prams. This is a protest filled with hopeful parents who want a better world for their kids. Probably a world where the kids won't even need to ask questions about racial inequality.

Soccer mom standing on top of her SUV while her husband and kid give away supplies to protesters
While stopped along 34th Street, the rain poured hard but the energy of the protest went even higher. An unseen organiser covered by the towering people in front of me took time to make a speech. His message on what the takeaway of the protest should be was clear--go out and vote. And while I cannot vote, the most I can do is start the conversation with my friends who can.

There's always a question of "What are these protests trying to achieve?" Aside from encouraging everyone to get out and vote, there is a Twitter compilation of all the positive change that's been happening due to the pressure from the people. Click on the Twitter link below to read the thread. Notably for NYC, the 2021 Candidates here are now calling for the defunding of the police department. As of yesterday, 49 candidates have signed their names. [Source]


Back home in the Philippines, it's not too different. Different kind of oppression but oppression still the same. Like here in New York, the youth are spearheading the protests. I'm going to end this post with a popular Jose Rizal quote:

"Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan"

The youth is the hope of the nation.

When I think about this, I think about all of my friends who are constantly fighting for a better country, whether directly or indirectly. I think about my friends who are always keeping our group chats active whenever there are new Bills getting enacted into laws and who are open to discussing what the ramifications will be, and what we can do.

I also think about the generations that came before us were once the youth. Maybe I'm just projecting my issues here. I get thoroughly disappointed whenever I find out that the people I love do not care one bit because it's none of their business, they say. I keep repeating to myself--what happened?

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