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Calmed by the Crowd

Today I went to a protest a few miles from my house. It was my first time going out into a crowd bigger than the line at the grocery store in almost three months but I, along with my partner Nancy and daughter Lucia, felt compelled to go to this rally and march. We put on our masks and headed down to Othello Park, a park I've driven by almost everyday for the last month because it is on the way to the drive-through Starbucks that has become a driving practice destination for Lucia as she prepares to get her permit once the DMV opens up again.

Today Othello Park was filled with thousands of bodies. I would later learn that there were upwards of ten thousand people at this peaceful protest rally and march today. For the first time in months I forgot about COVID-19. For a few hours I was just another body in a sea of bodies (all masked I might add). There was a grace in this crowd, a powerful, strong energy that carried us for miles down Rainier Avenue to the Safeway just south of Henderson. It wasn't until I got home and we sat down to dinner that I realized that I had not seen one police officer in the four hours I was at the rally and march. Ten thousand people marching, chanting, and demanding change, and not one law enforcement officer.

Since the national and international outcry of anger, pain and injustice have taken center stage in our collective consciousness, I've noticed that my level of fear about COVID-19 has decreased. I read the news. I've seen the violence downtown and all over the world. And though the unrest is unsettling,  it is also strangely comforting. In the last few months I have carried with me a constant sense of fear because of the federal level mis-management of COVID-19. I realized yesterday as I sat on the little couch in our kitchen that, for the first time in months, I felt a deep sense of calm. For the first time since the pandemic engulfed our lives, I felt like we were going to be okay.

Right now there is a palpable surge by the people--- a focus, an energy, a ferocity for change has emerged like a phoenix from the ashes. People in my city, country and world, are rising up, clear and bright, illuminated by passion for change. This gives me comfort. It feels like we, the people, the ones who can march 10,000 strong and be totally "managed" without anyone managing us, are actually the ones in control.

I'm surprised by my reaction to this experience. I hate crowds. I fear that they will get out of control and I will be swallowed up. But this was different. The thousands of bodies holding up handmade signs of heartbreak, rage and demands for change, the sea of mouthless faces chanting through the layers of fabric were true and real and good. Donald Trump, holding up his pretend Bible is a sham, a fake, a coward. He's living in a fool's paradise and he's not in control. All the little people that make up the big crowds are in charge. And even if the virus comes at us a little bit harder because of the protests, I have faith that the people can work together against the virus just as the people have come together to protest institutionalized racism and white supremacy all over the world. This comforts me on a deep, visceral level.

I am not a full time activist like my sister or so many people who work tirelessly every day to challenge oppression, but I am a person, one of the ten thousand, the ten million, ten billion that stand together to say, "We've got this." Power to people!

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