Today, Heart2Art held our first event: a protest in Huntington Beach in response to the tragic events that unfolded in Charlottesville. While we had originally planned for our first event to be held in late September, the current situation surrounding President Trump and racism prompted our team to plan a protest in front of the HB Pier.
While it was only a small gathering, it was truly eye-opening to see people of all ages, ethnicities, and genders come by to either join us in our protest or show their support through their kind words. It began with only Karly, Kara, and I sitting and playing ukelele while we held up our posters. As time passed, more and more people started to join us and help us take a stand on the streets of our own community. In between the chanting and car honking, an abundance of kindness and love was shown today and it really affected each of us whenever someone would walk up to our group and thank us for what we were doing. These kinds of interactions were something I had never experienced before, and I think that more teens should try exercising their activism out in the world at least once in their lives; not only is it extremely fulfilling, but it's something that can really make a change in society (God knows we need it). However, there were some things that I learned about protesting and people today that weren't so positive.
Throughout our protest, we had made it clear that our main intention was to express the need for love and peace in our world. As it was a response to the acts of violence and bigotry that occurred in Charlottesville, we were not there to berate other's opinions or spread hateful (and frankly hypocritical) messages. However, there was a large amount of people who took our peaceful protest of love as something else. People in cars would drive by sticking their middle fingers out or shout something along the lines of "Go Trump!" Yes, the freedom of expression is a right that each of them possesses. But, a person can see that there is something wrong with our society when a protest for love translates to an anti-Trump rally or something to be offended by. Innocent lives were taken in Charlottesville and it was just a sudden reminder that racism is still alive and well in our world. We were protesting for peace, but some people have shown that peace is not what they want in their country. Going into the protest, I had hoped that a some people who didn't necessarily share the same views as me would understand that we were fighting for love, seeing that there is so little of it, and not turn it into a political argument. However, as I watched people angrily reject our ideas of love and peace, that there is much more work to be done if we are to reach out and make a change. Now that President Trump has enabled the world's racists and bigots, allowing them to boldly show their true colors to the world, we just have to continue protesting and do what we can to educate those who find it hard to understand that love is something that everyone deserves.
Another thing I had noticed while protesting was the amount of people who turned a blind eye. While I understand that their actions today may not have been an accurate portrayal of who they are, it seems to me that too many people would rather ignore issues at hand rather than do something to address it. It is too common that I hear people complain about the way the world is and do nothing about it. Throughout history, some of the biggest changes to society were made because the people decided that it was time to step into the real world and do something about the world's problems. I wanted to create this project in order to educate our generation into becoming empowered and motivated activists who realize that, in order for a change to be made, they will need to be the one to make it. People became passive when coming across a protest in the streets and it makes me wonder what the world would be like if we all stepped out of our comfort zone to fight for something we believe in. Despite what you may think, protesting does make a difference. Protesting gave women the right to vote, contributed to the end of segregation in the United States, allowed people the right to marry whomever they wanted to, and so much more. When you show your voice in a protest, you are telling the world and your government that the people are not satisfied with how things are running and that we need change.
Despite all this, the protest was something amazing and really revealed the love that exists between people. We connected over our passion for equality and were able to take a stand for what we believe in. I felt empowered, brave, and strong. I felt like I was able to impact some of the people I met today. I was able to get just a taste of what the people are capable of when we decide that it is time for change. Thank you to everyone who joined us for the protest today! I can't wait to do it again.