by Seungman Park (Korea)
The shouting of “We are the 99%!” pawed at my heart. I felt the obstacle – the fact that I was not born in the U.S. – melting away. If someone does not agree with my protest against Wall Street, dare I say “I have the right to occupy Wall Street because I have family in the U.S, I am an immigrant in this country, and I am a part of the United States of America.” We all have dreams of making America a great place. Everyone – citizens, residents, immigrants, migrant workers, and students – will help develop this country with our hard work and dreams. So I was proud of myself to march as one of the protesters on Wall Street.
Before deciding to participate in the protest, I was full of thoughts. I had just gotten my green card after an unbelievably crazy process and I was invited to my sister-in-law’s wedding the following Sunday. Even though it was not my first experience complaining about corruption, each step toward Wall Street made my heart beat so fast that I could hear the loud sound as it hit my chest. I felt like a soldier without any weapons walking into battle.
To grumble my complaint as an immigrant sometimes results in awkward moments. Someone, whose name I do not want to release, asked me in ignorance, “Do you know the purpose of the protest?” On hearing such foolishness not only did my mouth and body become frozen, but my blood also boiled. After that, I wondered whether my protesting was right or wrong. The answer to the above question is to not stress about it – I do not need to get close to someone who is narrow-minded.
Once I got to Liberty Plaza, where protesters delivered their speeches, sharing this painful economic situation with the 99% of us, my irrational fear of being arrested or pepper-sprayed flew away. I was just happy to be with normal people who had the same reasons I did for occupying Wall Street. I know why you and I should have been there, I know why you and I should be there, and I know you and I will be there until we all retake our voice and rights. That’s because we are the 99%.