• Mark White

Seattle's We Want To Live Rally & March - June 7

In the days following the George Floyd Protest on May 30, Seattle experienced a near-daily cadence of marches, rallies and memorials for African Americans who have killed by police.

To view many more pictures from the event, check out my We Want to Live Album.

The We Want to Live Rally & March started in Seattle's Othello Park with speakers, and ended with a one-mile march. I never saw an estimate for the crowd, but it had to be at least 10,000. What was unique about the event was that it was sponsored by Community Passageways, a group whose mission is to "create alternatives to incarceration for youth and young adults by rebuilding our communities through committed relationships centered on love, compassion."

That meant that young people -- kids, really -- took prominent roles in the march. How old is the young girl in the image above? Maybe six years old?

As a white father of two light-skinned multi-racial children -- my wife is of Sri Lankan descent -- I've never had to have the "talk" about police. My wife's parents were the first people of color to move into their Federal Way (Washington) neighborhood in the 1970s, but we have lived a privileged life in that regard. I have not had to thrust my young kids into protest roles. Our privelege was never lost on me as I focused on the hundreds of kids and young people of color in the march.

As the start time of the rally approached, Othello Park began to look like a family event. Many parents with their children began taking their spots in the grass.

But as we approached the rally's scheduled start time, the crowd swelled. While I saw very few participants without masks, the space between the protesters diminished with each passing minute. Thousands filled the park as the speakers took the stage.

I'm a fairly tall guy -- 6'2". At this event, surrounded by so many families with young children, I was constantly aware of my height.

In my street shooting, when I have choice I don't shoot down on my subject. I wear knee pads so that I can get at eye-level or lower. Please excuse the brief rant here, but I hate seeing photographs that point down at men or women on the ground in helpless, vulnerable positions. The need to document may require those shots from time to time, but more often than not it's a lack of imagination or laziness on the part of the photographer that helps perpetuate those perspectives.

About a half-mile into the march, I found an area to the side of the road where I could set myself on the ground so I could look up at the protesters and their signs.

I also experimented -- with mixed results -- with a wide-angle lens (14mm) in hopes of adding some distortion to that ground-up perspective. "Tell all the Truth but tell it slant," is how Emily Dickinson put it. My experiments don't always slant the truth successfully, but they are always worth a try.

I also had a bit of fun along the march when I met NBA great Nate Robinson. He is a Rainier Beach High graduate and has always been one of my favorite players to watch. During the NBA strike several years ago, he joined a group of professionals and college players for scrimmages at the Boys and Girls Club in south Seattle. It was great to have a (free) court-side view of his play. He's not big, but watching the scrimmages up-close I was blown away by his power and quickness.

Sports heroes aside, what mostly fuels my passion during events like the We Want to Live rally and march is finding new ways to capture capturing the small, almost invisible moments at the event with my short primes -- like the moments of firm tenderness this father showed with his son. There's no substitute to getting up close and personal to capture a moment like this.

To view many more pictures from the event, check out my We Want to Live Album.

© 2016-2020 MARK WHITE  |  mark@mjwhitephotos.com I 206.409.1247

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