Reopen NC protest in Raleigh, NC - Documenting History
DISCLAIMER - - I wanted to start off by saying this piece is not meant to sway anyone one way or another on how they feel about the situation we are all currently in. It’s not to say one side is right, and one side is wrong. My purpose in putting this together was to document this uncertain, scary, and (the word I see being used most) crazy time in our nation's history.
We are currently living through the worst pandemic the world as ever known.........fear. People are fearful for their lives. People are fearful they won’t have a job to come back to after this is all over. People are fearful about how long this will last. People are fearful about their businesses going under. People are fearful they will lose their homes. Fearful they won’t be able to go back to church. People are fearful they aren’t being told the correct information from media sources. People are fearful of a new normal and what that might look like. People are fearful for the lives and livelihoods of their friends and family. People are fearful their rights may be slipping away. People are fearful of not receiving a stimulus check when they need it most. People are fearful their potential loans, grants, and payroll protections may not come through in time. People are fearful of relying on the government. People are fearful of the intentions of the government at different levels. People are fearful to express themselves freely during this time because of fear they may be ridiculed by friends for believing one thing or another. People are fearful they won’t be able to put food on the table. People are fearful to grocery shop. People are afraid to be social and touch one another. Lastly, I think people in all walks of life are fearful of the un-certainty this all may bring in regards to the aforementioned and the future.
I saw a quote posted on facebook a couple of weeks ago that hit home for me. Someone posted a status that stated something along the lines of, “People keep saying we’re all in the same boat. We’re not. We’re all in different ships traveling through the same storm.” Simple, yet powerful. One person’s job security is not another’s. One family’s savings is not another’s. One individual’s beliefs are not another’s, and everybody’s opinion certainly varies on this situation in its entirety. For me that one hit home because I can relate to many sides. I have close family members who are immunocompromised. I also own two businesses that are being affected greatly as a result of the situation. I have friends that are dipping their toes in the conspiracy theory waters, and I have friends who believe every word of what they see in the media. I think most of us find ourselves in the middle somewhere trying to decipher the information we’ve been given, while trying to make sense of it all, and best plan for the future with regards to our health, safety, and security. Yet what we’ve seen is social media blow up like it’s election season. People are attacking each other verbally because they don’t agree with someone’s choices. They are attacking each other’s character, and in some cases (our’s) some people are even having their business attacked for their opinion on something so uncertain. It’s unfortunate as this situation has become so volatile in terms of people’s emotions that it seems we’re losing site of those things like health, safety, and security (whatever that looks like to you). Similar to election season when people start arguing with each other and lashing out because they find out one of their friends is in this political party while they are in another. The discussions become less and less about the matters at hand, and they turn into this war of ‘I’m right, and you’re wrong!’
I am a big believer that everyone should be entitled to their opinion. I can’t tell you the literally thousands of times in the past 5 years I’ve just scrolled on past someone’s post, statement, or meme that I didn’t necessarily agree with and I kept scrolling. It’s just a part of life. Most adults move on as they realize it’s not something necessarily worth investing time and effort in in the grand scheme of their lives. Some people like their bacon crispy, some like their bacon chewy, and then there are those weirdos that don’t like bacon at all - - JUST KIDDING - - sorry had to break up the heavy stuff. I think most people do this on a daily basis but then election season rolls around and the gloves come off. Once friends become sworn enemies, instead of scrolling past those posts that they may not agree with they lash out and attack someone or argue for hours on end. I have to imagine it’s an interesting mindset to go from one to the other. It feels a lot like that now.
I chose to go to the Reopen NC protest in Raleigh, NC for a few reasons. 1) This feels like a historical time not only in the US but world wide. As I mentioned in the previous paragraphs so many people are all over the place in terms of their fears, emotions, and beliefs, and ALL for good reasons. I don’t think anybody is necessarily more right or more wrong in this case. Everybody has valid concerns about their present and future. 2) As a photographer, I wanted to document this point in time in its most raw form (documenting inside of the hospitals would be powerful as well but for obvious reasons that’s not an option). 3) I like the core of the message of what Reopen NC was standing for. Now, let me start off by saying, just like any group, club, political affiliation, etc, you’re going to have to sift through the crazy to find what the essence of the message actually is. While there were participants in that group that had extreme views, the founders and the majority of those participating seemed to be carrying the same message, freedom. Having that freedom to stay home. Having that freedom to go to work and provide, and most importantly having freedom of choice. Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness (again whatever that looks like to you). I got to walk along side and document over (an estimated) 1,200 North Carolinians. Medical professionals, senators, business owners, mothers, fathers, families, young citizens, old citizens, first responders, and veterans in their effort to preserve that freedom. It was an experience I won’t soon forget.
Stay strong everybody and much love!