A photo is found; delayed thoughts on the 6 Jun 20 BLM march

· 359 words · 2 minute read
Two boys stand on a balcony of their apartment holding Black Lives Matter signs, their fists raised. Others around them are watching the crowd marching below.

The act of dividing catalogs and using Lightroom to find some missing files triggered a bunch of images popping up in the “recent edits” list. This is one I thought I had only as a not great monochrome jpeg, so when it turned up as a raw I didn’t even know existed, I was pretty happy.

It’s my favorite photo from the 6 June Black Lives Matter march in North Portland. I took hundreds that day. On review later, I realized nothing really unified them. They were pictures taken from inside a crowd. There was no theme and no sense of action.

I do remember walking underneath the balcony in the picture, though, because I was feeling sort of deflated.

When I turn out for marches I don’t bring along a sign. The march, to my mind, doesn’t need my distinctive commentary, it just needs my body, in a mass, with other bodies. It isn’t a conversation so much as it is a statement. Not everyone shares my theory of marches, though. There is always a contingent that brings some sort of “see ME” energy along with them. It bums me out a little, especially in a town like Portland where the best intentioned, most earnest voices also demonstrate a knack for ending up being the voice that gets heard and stays heard. The conversation shifts to their particular things: their hangups, their traumas, their particular notion of what is to be done. The focus often fails to shift back to the marginalized person we should all be listening to. We lose focus on who is in the room

I facilitated ally skills workshops at work for a period, and the thing I appreciated so much about the material we used (from Valerie Aurora, formerly of the Ada Initiative) was its suggestion that there’s a sort of humility allies ought to be cultivating. There’s a strong thread of “don’t make it all about you, ally.”

That resonates with me. I was raised in a faith traditiont that stressed humility: “Do justice, love tenderly, walk humbly.”

So I mostly hope those kids thought it was all about them that day.