I Went to My First Political Rally and Here’s What Happened

As an immigrant myself, the “Families Belong Together – Freedom for Immigrants March Los Angeles” was the best way to start using my voice.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 30: An aerial view of the demonstrators at 'Families Belong Together - Freedom for Immigrants March Los Angeles' at Los Angeles City Hall on June 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Families Belong Together LA)

On Saturday (June 30), millions of advocates for the Families Belong Together – Freedom For Immigrants March Los Angeles movement congregated in large cities across the nation to show their frustration with the current administration’s tactics towards immigration.

Trump and his administration have taken a combative and unapologetic stance when it comes to immigration, implementing a “no tolerance” policy. Heart jarring photos and gut wrenching sound bites from this strategy have emerged on practically every news platform and ignited a hunger for change in the people of the United States. In the past, America has been seen as a beacon of hope for people around the world who live in countries that face tragedies like poverty and cruel dictatorship. What used to be seen as a safe haven for families escaping violence, has now become a parent’s worst nightmare. Whether it’s immigration policies or international relations, Trump has made it apparent that when it comes to empathy and compassion towards others, he sees them as signs of weakness rather than strength. What this rally showed is that there are many different facets for what strong can look like, and when we come together to show our love and unity we are stronger than that of hate.

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 30: A view of the demonstrators at ‘Families Belong Together – Freedom for Immigrants March Los Angeles’ at Los Angeles City Hall on June 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Families Belong Together LA)

As a fiery feminist and self proclaimed love advocate, I was surprised that this was the first political rally that I had ever attended. I was always passionate about certain political issues, whether it be gun control, women’s rights, immigration etc; but I never considered myself to be a particularly “political” person. It wasn’t until recently that I realized by labeling myself as non political, I was taking a submissive role in conversations that needed my voice and support. I am a straight white woman who although I immigrated to this country when I was 10, I moved from England; which essentially means I hit the immigration jackpot. I did not face the trials and tribulations that families trying to immigrate from other parts of the world have to face everyday, some even after they become citizens. I didn’t have to prove myself or even learn a new language to assimilate to my new home.

I moved to the United States when I was 10 due to my dad’s growing career in technology. My parents are both white and highly educated and successful individuals, and it took us 12 years to gain citizenship. To put that into perspective, I was in 4th grade when I moved here and my citizenship ceremony was three days after my college graduation at age 22. Minus a few months of delay due to my own human errors and missed dates, this was the normal duration of one’s “legal alien” status before they are eligible for the citizenship test. You can see how if someone was trying to escape a country due to fear of violence and corruption, a 12 year or more process might not be achievable.

It wasn’t until this past election that my identity was threatened by those in positions of political power. It pushed me to seek out more resources to educate myself on the current state of the government. And the more I learned, the more frustrated I became. So I decided to attend my first rally, and there was no better way to start than with the #FamiliesBelongTogetherLA demonstration.

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 30: Actress Constance Wu attends ‘Families Belong Together – Freedom for Immigrants March Los Angeles’ at Los Angeles City Hall on June 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Families Belong Together LA)

The rally started off strong with speakers immediately tackling the issues, followed by an inspiring performance of “Where is the Love” by Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas. People cheered and chanted as speakers spoke about civility and the lack of humanity from our country’s leaders. We heard heartbreaking stories and words of inspiration from leaders of organizations such as Black Lives Matter, CHIRLA, TransLatin, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and many more.

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 30: Chrissy Teigen speaks onstage at ‘Families Belong Together – Freedom for Immigrants March Los Angeles’ at Los Angeles City Hall on June 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Families Belong Together LA)

Cast members from Jane the Virgin and One Day at a Time and celebrities like Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Laverne Cox and Eugenio Derbez encouraged us to stand up and love one another. As I looked around me, I saw people in the crowd holding on to one another, some fighting back tears and others letting them pour down their face freely. There was a feeling of love and hope in the air that grew with each new speaker.

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 30: Actor Chadwick Boseman (L) and mayor Eric Garcetti attend ‘Families Belong Together – Freedom for Immigrants March Los Angeles’ at Los Angeles City Hall on June 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Families Belong Together LA)

Kamala Harris, Eric Garcetti, Maxine Waters and Gavin Newsom were a few of the political figures who condemned Trump and his administration and reminded us that they are fighting for us and to not lose faith. Two speeches that touched me in particular were Kamala Harris and Maxine Waters, as they exuded a fierceness and sense of determination that we can do better and that we will win this fight. They reminded me that there are still politicians that care about humanity and fighting injustices. After the speeches ended, everyone began to march through the streets of Downtown Los Angeles.

Having never been to a march before, I didn’t anticipate the magnitude of the feeling of strength and unity that I would feel. I felt useless and defeated for our nation when reading these stories in the news. And after marching with over 75,000 people, my faith was restored and I know that we will demand change, and we will not stop until we have won the fight against cruel and violent politicians.

As Kamala Harris said, “We are better than this” and we can do better. Don’t stop marching, don’t stop emailing and donating, and when it comes time for the election in November, go out and vote.”

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 30: A view of the demonstrators at ‘Families Belong Together – Freedom for Immigrants March Los Angeles’ at Los Angeles City Hall on June 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Families Belong Together LA)

If you are interested in learning more about the rally and how you can do your part in this movement, check out moveon.org

Reporting Credit: Joanne Sturge