CHAMPS Charter High School of the Arts

This is what democracy looks like

Warning: Video shows explicit language

This week I attended my first batch of protests in my young life. I have always considered myself a fairly politically active person, but I have never been brought to the blood boiling level that calls for protesting or marching before recently.

The day Donald Trump was elected president was a day filled with misery and disappointment. I sobbed uncontrollably. I cried for myself, as a young woman, I no longer felt safe; I was suddenly made aware of all the people in this country who do not believe I deserve certain rights, and I had just had my hopes of finally being able to say, “Madame President” smashed to bits.

I cried for my friends, those who were undocumented immigrants, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. I cried for all the people threatened who I did not know, who I felt absolutely powerless to protect.

The day of President Trump’s inauguration was a day filled with righteous anger and determination. I skipped the last two periods of school and took the metro down to City Hall. There I was surrounded by people just as angry as I was. Crowds that came pouring off the steps of City Hall and down the streets bearing signs expressing their fears, their confusion, their outright hatred for our new outright hateful president. The energy was something I’ve never experienced before.

Standing in the center of the crowd, I felt protected. I no longer felt distress over all the people I could not protect, I felt hope, knowing there were others out there who could. As my friends and I marched through the streets, at one point leading hundreds, chanting, weaving our way through cars honking their support, I no longer felt afraid.

The following day I returned to downtown L.A. for the Women’s March. The air did not carry the same fierce anger as it had the previous day, but it had transformed into something else entirely, support.

Thousands of women, garbed in shades of pink, armed with their families, friends, and signs, gathered in one mass, to speak up for one another. I have never felt so hopeful, so represented, so safe. So many showed up that we hardly had the chance to march, but we didn’t need to. Fear and hatred are such powerful tools, if you can corral and alienate people, you can control them. But in that crowd, on Jan. 21 in downtown L.A., no one felt alienated, no one felt alone. We felt nothing but hope and support because the people, united, will never be divided.