My First Black Lives Matter Protest
I feel charged, exhausted, and calm... all at the same time.
I experienced something profoundly powerful today that I will never forget, and I experienced it with my LA tribe, on the streets of the City of Angels.
I have to say, it didn't arrive on my doorstep out of nowhere. It flowed organically into my sphere of existence. You might already sense this if you've reading these blogs consistently, but I've been steadily nurturing my spirit each day, through humble daily writings, healthy food reverence, meditation, small acts of service, breath work, and holistic self care. I've been laying the groundwork to stay brave, kind, grateful, and clear of purpose for the past few months. My constant reflections of gratitude and willingness to learn from my mistakes and past selves... well, they've stirred up a lot of emotions, that's for sure, but I have felt safe processing them around the people I love, in a home and city I adore, among quiet, sun-splashed days.
The result? A pandemic and international lockdown gave me the chance to 'upgrade' my inner and outer self. I stepped back from the need to constantly self promote on superficial online platforms. I stepped back from the audition grind, while unemployment checks rolled in. I actually started saving money for the first time. I wore makeup 3 times in 3 months.
Today, we did our Wim Hof breath work in the yard, and worked out with a little help from Jeff Cavaliere. As someone who always liked the exercise but hated the gym environment, workouts with true friends in the sunlight while birds chirp at me have been... inspired and so fun. Shower. Makeup (such a weird activity that I enjoy a lot more now that I almost never do it). Protein shakes. Coffee. A last minute decision to make signs.
We parked near our friend Aya's place in Little Tokyo. Our only plan was to check out our friend Danny's street mural--artists from all over have begun to paint masterpieces on the window boards of shops throughout Downtown LA. They are breathtaking and diverse and give the streets near City Hall healing vibes. We've been following Danny's journey as a legitimate film photographer, street artist, and clothing designer for years, consistently floored by his devotion to detail. So, to see his collaboration on such an important street near City Hall, and to witness our friend's role in a little piece of important history... the feeling was hard to describe. Immensely proud, and quietly reverent, and just fully present with the give-and-take between artist and grateful observer.
We took a few photos, then walked over to City Hall, just as a fresh protest/march began. Even though we'd made signs, we hadn't consciously planned to participate in anything. The energy of the protest just organically pulled us in. We observed the passing details of the fray and chanted "Black Lives, They Matter Here", and "No Justice, No Peace, No Racist Police" along with leaders on loudspeakers.
There is an utterly wordless phenomenon that happens at large, peaceful gatherings. It is a vortex of common humanity, everyone around you as diverse as it gets, aimed toward unity, acceptance, and peace. You feel like you might cry for the entire event, but if tears flow, they don't draw your attention away from the community purpose, only give you strength and clarity. Generations of the marginalized and their allies had come together in a cause greater than their individual selves. Love, and respect, and honor, were exchanged non verbally between everyone I passed. Everything had been thought of. Volunteers passed through with water bottles and snacks, even sandwiches. A guy on a skateboard collected people's trash (all the street cans seemed to have been removed, perhaps so the police could ramp up litter confrontations). A woman was parked on the City Hall grass with a makeshift table and a sign that read: 'Report Police Violence Here'.
We continued to march with the group as the chants grew louder and we seemed to conquer fear itself in swoops and swells. Fear of the virus. Fear of the police. Fear of the unknown. We weren't hysterical. We were focused. Grounded in deep empathy and acceptance of each other. I found myself drifting apart from my friends, interspersing with, and taking in the scene. I didn't worry about losing them. They never seemed to be too far. And although we were there together, we seemed to be on individual journeys.
We followed the crowd several blocks, as regular traffic began to congregate behind us. We were led into the 2nd Street Tunnel, which created a massive echo effect: chants, cars honking (in solidarity), drums, and plain old cheering reverberated through the tunnel. It might have been scary but it was the middle of the day, we were holding down our purpose in peaceful solidarity, and we could see the light at the end of the darkness. The metaphor was not lost on the protest leaders. We stopped in the very center where quiet was called for, and we all knelt for a moment of silence for George Floyd. A man's booming voice lead thousands of us in absolute quiet, in reflection on a man's lost life. "Thank you George Floyd," he said.
It was easily the most powerful moment of my life thus far. All that spiritual work I've been doing came to a head. I was strengthened and oxygenated by my breathing practices. I was lifting myself out of my own fear into blissful acceptance of the moment. Pure hope and vulnerability and belief in something better for all was felt, in a packed downtown tunnel built in a different time. The long, dark walls shadowed all our defined differences: races and genders and ages and clothing choices and disabilities. We became thousands of beating hearts, grieving injustice together. "We will not be divided,"emerged as the clear theme, and we marched back into the sunlight, buzzed on humanity.
There are so many other details spinning through my mind that I'll probably unpack in future blogs. There are so many feelings this blog might incite--but I hope they're good ones. I hope the shock and fear fall off you for a brief moment as you read this. I hope you absorb the knowing that good people exist so vastly, and are willing to reform their harmful biases and help each other. I hope you trust that I am safe, sanitized, and even more speechlessly enamored with the world than yesterday.