One year ago I wanted change, but I didn’t know what.
I wanted to be involved, but I didn’t know how.
So I offered to take portraits, because that’s what I know how to do.
But photographing removes me.
I’m involved, but I’m on the outside.
This was clear when I went to take this portrait.
I had no idea who this teenage girl was standing in front of me.
I hadn’t heard her voice crack on the stage moments before.
The emotion swell in her voice.
The fear on her face as she told the sea of strangers, who didn’t look like her, the truth.
The truth of discrimination and racism in our schools and in our town.
I hadn’t seen the tears stream down her cheeks.
The embraces she received once the truth was out.
I was in my corner of the park hidden behind my shield of photography.
Hers was the last portrait of the day.
I was just about to pack up.
But yes, I could take one more portrait.
One more round of questions to try and get a good portrait.
“So do you like high school?” I asked.
Her face dropped.
Didn’t you hear?
Didn’t you see?
I hadn’t heard.
I hadn’t seen.
But once I finally did see and hear, I couldn’t unsee. I couldn’t un-hear.
I had to do something more than take photos.
I am so grateful for this brave student.
For the leaders of our community who helped her have the courage to share her story.
For the organizers who created the stage.
It is because of their work and her testimony that TIDE (Team for Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity) was created and I am now a part of a movement that fills me with so much love and a purpose greater than taking portraits on the outside.
To learn more about TIDE and how you can join the movement to make sure our communities are welcoming for ALL of people…
Here is our newsletter from December:
Here is a link to our very first article about TIDE in the Bohemian:
You can listen to our podcast with Rabbi Ted:
Sign up for our newsletter here:
TIDE is a grassroots organization running entirely by volunteers. We are facilitating conversations within our community to make sure that our schools are welcoming to all of our diverse students. We are offering trainings that are FREE to teachers and school staff and sliding scale for all other community members.
If you would like to make a contribution on Martin Luther King Jr Day that will directly make a difference for the community we live in, please consider donating to our movement here: http://petalumapeople.org/donate/ (be sure to designate your donation to TIDE)
“In a fractal conception, I am a cell-sized unit of the human organism, and I have to use my life to leverage a shift in the system by how I am, as much as with the things I do. This means actually being in my life, and it means bringing my values into my daily decision making. Each day should be lived on purpose.”