1. This week’s #40things brought to you by commentary on the candlelight vigil we attended last night.
2. Bear wanted to show up for BLM but it took me a week to find something appropriate.
3. This may sound counter to everything I’ve written so far – stand up for humanity and all that jazz.
4. Parenting is so tricky, man. I want to honor her passion. I also want to keep her out of danger. Tightrope.
5. We decided a vigil that would be over before dark was our best option.
6. Bee dropped us off at the vigil because she is Da Bomb.
7. Driving in cities stresses me out, okay? It’s a thing.
8. We saw toddlers in Pull-Ups perched on their parents’ shoulders in ninety degree weather.
9. I broke into sympathy back sweat at the sight.
10. Don’t get me wrong, I had my own back sweat from the backpack I’d loaded down. More on that later.
11. There were about 1,000 people at an entirely youth-planned event, at least 99% of whom were wearing a mask. Gotta love it.
12. Around me I saw people ranging from 18-months-old to folks in their sixties.
13. Talk about appealing to the masses.
14. There was also a huge cross section of races and ethnicities in the crowd.
15. This is not a black-only movement, people. If folks in charge are hoping it’ll burn out and drop off our radar they’re in for a rude awakening.
16. Lots of us have had a rude awakening, though, so I guess they can get in line.
17. I did a ridiculous amount of prep/instruction before we left.
18. Socks and comfortable sneakers. No identifying clothes. No makeup.
19. Turns out tear gas interacts with makeup – not that there’d be tear gas! But better safe…yada-yada-yada.
20. Take water, extra masks, gloves.
21. Pack meds you might need overnight.
22. Take first aid supplies and insurance cards.
23. Write your emergency contact number in Sharpie on your body.
24. (Folks heading to a protest should also write an attorney’s number to call if they’re detained by police.)
25. Bear understood how important it was not to get separated. She also knew the number Sharpied on her arm was her first call if she couldn’t reach me.
26. The things we teach our kids, man.
27. And just when I thought we had the bases covered Bee comes in for the win with a second meet-up location in case the police blocked off downtown.
28. My sister totally rocks.
29. So by now you’re probably convinced we were heading into battle. We over-preparers can come off that way.
30. We arrived at the plaza a little before 6:00pm in oppressive ninety degree heat because North Carolina in June. Bless.
31. We found a little spot in the shade and prayed for the breeze to pick up before we all hit the hot sidewalk and melted.
32. There were speakers – some educating white allies, some calling for justice.
33. A local high school senior recited her own poem and daaaammmnn, I felt that pain down to my soul.
34. Several people sang, and words shared by a preacher’s son were particularly moving.
35. Lighting candles outside with a brisk breeze is seriously challenging. Light the lighter, flame blows out. Light the candle, flame blows out. Light the candle, light the candle, light the candle, flame won’t stop blowing out. Freak it all!
36. Teamwork makes the difference.
37. Then we sat in silence for eight minutes and forty-six seconds.
38. I bowed my head and thought This is how long it took to murder Mr. Floyd. This is how long he begged for his life. This is when he cried out for his mama.
39. Go ahead, set a timer and sit in silence. It is a long.freaking.time. It feels like forever.
40. And sitting there on that hot, hot pavement, thinking of a man’s last painful breaths, I know Mr. Floyd ended up exactly as Derek Chauvin wanted him.