#MarchForOurLivesLA | How a group of High School students changed my perspective of America.
I contimplated going to #MarchForOurLives Saturday. In my head, on my timeline, on the news and social media, I've heard countless arguments from the younger generation, the older generation and all those inbetween. From "Where was the black representation in Time Magazines newest cover shoot" to the lack of coverage and public outrage when Black American's were being killed by the police weekly. I've heard the most idiotic statements from school systems such as clear back packs in Broward County, arming teachers with guns and now Pennislyannia giving students buckets of stones in an "effort" to protect students from shootings. Overall I just didn't want to go and count signs as I questioned why is one situation more important than the other. *cough cough*Black Lives Matter *cough cough* Flint Water Crisis *cough cough* Dakota Access Pipeline*
But I went anyway. Around 11:45am I walked out of my cozy home in Downtown Los Angeles and decided to grab a few shots of the march. The first person I saw as I walked the streets was Lisa Bonet. As random as that is, I though that would be the highlight of the march for me. I only expected to be engulfed with all that is the pink hat/white guilt outrage that has been a priority in todays public outcry. I spoke too soon.
As I descended into the remanding crowds, I was surprised. There were so many kids. From babies to college students, there were thousands out and about, yelling at the top of their lungs, "HEY HEY HO HO THE NRA HAS GOT TO GO." It felt like they just weren't there for the photo ops. They really wanted change. It changed my perspective almost instantly. This wasn't just a march. This was the change we all have been looking for.
For the next 2 hours I ran around grabbing shots of every person that looked like they wanted change. More kids. More High Schoolers. More Teachers. I listened to stories from parents saying their 8 year old wanted to come out and protest. I saw the tears stream down some of these kids cheeks. After a while a woman asked me to take some photos of her with a group of kids' and that in turn gave me a short lived job as everyones phone photographer. I didn't mind. I wanted to help. I wanted to help these kids in some way.
The changing moment in my march experience came from my interaction with the opposition. The NRA/Pro-Trump side. This time around there were more minorities on that side than I have seen in previous marches. While that didn't bother me at first, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, what was said did. An African American woman not to much older than me stood on the opposition side arguing with a group of high schoolers. While one boy tried to bring some humor to their banter, "I can get a gun earlier than I can get dick," she proceeded to tell a young black girl that she should know her history. "The NRA is here to protect us." I heard her say this a few times. That is when I had to speak out. Which history was she speaking about?
"Are you serious? What the f*ck is wrong with you? They don't give a f*ck about you? How can you be over there and you are a minority?"
This went on for a few minutes. Our argument of repetition just dragged on. No need to censor it. I said what I said. In that moment I was mad at her and every other Trump Supporter who thought that there was no need for gun control. Were they serious? Did they not see the news of Stephon Clark? This happened 6 days ago!!!
As the argument progressed a large White man came behind her and placed his hands on her shoulders to "reassure" her of his feelings. Sure. What ever makes you happy. A high schooler behind me yelled to them," You do know Trump wouldn't like that, right?" By now I was out of my element and one of the high schooler from before coached me away. "She isn't worth it." We all knew she would understand what we meant one day.
After that moment I was ready to go. I needed to meet up with friends for an Adidas event that happened at 2pm. As I was making plans that same group of kids from earlier came up to me. Thanking me for speaking up to that girl on the oppositon and in turn I thanked them for becoming the voice of change. It was euphoric to speak to them all. Giving them all my instagram handle to keep in touch. Wishing them well in their high school years. Letting them know to keep love and positivity in their hearts. Making sure to give each of them a hug because you never know who really needs one these days. Getting a group photo of all of them. That made everything worth it.
I graduated high school 7 years ago, crazy to believe. In 2011, my only worry was what I was going to wear to prom, if I was going to be home sick going to college in California and how to Skype and message all of my friends at the same time. Don't get me wrong, school shootings and gun violence aren't new but I didn't experience it like these kids are now. I'm 24 now. I'm techniqually old enough to have a small child. One thing me and my friends talk about is how scared we would be to bring a child into this world especially living in the USA. Today I gained a little hope for the future of this country.
So to close out this long post I have to say Thank You. To all the kids across America that stood up for what they believed in today. No matter your age, your ethnicity or you background. You matter. You are Important. To the beautiful group of kids I met yesterday, I have so much love for you all and I only meeting you for a short time. Thank you for restoring some hope in me and making me happy to be a "journalist." You guys are forever in my prayers. You are making a change. You are making the world safer for the rest of us.
GO VOTE EVERYONE. PROTECT THE FUTURE.