Say Their Names
In the midst of the insanity that is this country, I keep meeting the most beautiful souls. I met one last week while I was shooting the “Say Their Names: Why We Kneel Rally/Vigil/SilentMarch” rally on Saturday.
“What about Black on Black crime?” a guy shouts out in response to protestors chanting, ‘Black Lives Matter.” He keeps repeating that as he walks alongside the marchers in the opposite direction. He seemingly disappears after he hits the end of the line.
He reappears ten minutes later as we enter the amphitheater at Civic Center Park. The protestors aren’t chanting anything at this point, but he is still shouting his refrain. I’ve seen a hundred of these trolls so I know better than to engage. Or not. He walks by, a few feet from me, still stuck on his mantra. I say, “Dude, it’s about the same as White on White crime. Which is about the same as Asian on Asian crime…” He mutters and walks on.
A young man I’d noticed earlier during the protest approaches me. “What did you say to him?” I recount our exchange, and I mutter something about him being an ignorant racist. He says, “I just want to know why he thinks what he thinks.” No judgement, just a genuine curiosity to learn more. And upbeat about it. I’m like, ‘Good luck with that.” He heads after the guy.
I see him return about ten minutes later, as the protest is breaking up, and ask how it went. He explains he had a nice talk with him. Turns out his life has been hard and he’d just gotten out of jail. He had no idea that the march was commemorating people killed by the police. He explained to him that several of the people marching had lost a child to a police shooting. He had no idea. He asked him to apologize to them for him. He thanked him for the sentiment but tells him that’s up to him to do. They part amicably.
We talk for a bit more about photography and the state of this country. Turns out he’s a reporter with Metro State’s paper. I can’t help but think he’s probably a great reporter.
I ask him if I can make a photo. He agrees. I take a few quick photos. We start walking off in opposite directions, he turns and says, “Stay in your heart.”
I normally have a visceral reaction to unsolicited advice. Not this time. This feels more like a prayer or a blessing. Thank you, Mimi. I’ll try.