DIRECT

I still feel uncomfortable. I don't find taking photos of people easy. Getting in the mix yesterday, on some level, was a deliberate choice to confront my comfort. Part of #zumamustfall and my concerns about the state of SA, leaves me, I feel, no choice but to step outside my comfort, to seek solidarity beyond my bubble, and to open myself up to sharing and being confronted, in ways that interrogate perceptions. Not everyone returned my enthusiasm for random conversations, but as a tool, my camera was a good introduction, and people, on the whole, were eager to share, if not with me, then of themselves.
On the walk back to Church Square, I held myself back, when scuffles started ahead, but I edged warily forward instead of opting for side streets.
Some shop fronts had been vandalized. Those that did the vandalizing were being “disciplined”. (I heard suggestions of ulterior motives for discrediting the marchers).
It was ugly, some might say they deserved what they got, but I still can’t help my impression that they were utterly poor and desperate.
The last few images in my album illustrate what I saw. There is one with two bystanders behind a metal gate. One face is grimacing, one seems unaffected.
This photo, and the way it won’t let me go, lets me know I’m a grimacer. I feel an emotional tie with my subject, and a guilt for being an “objective” bystander.
I can rationalize the merit of the document, and i can admire the length to which other, braver, photographers go to in pursuit of sharing uncomfortable truths.
I can justify my desire for self preservation on account of responsibilities to family and friends… I’m not overly reckless, I just can’t turn a blind eye anymore.
I understand there will be casualties, in comfort and even lives, but more than that I understand the stakes are extremely high.
It must be said that those dishing out “discipline”, were a minority and that the larger crowd, were more eager to escort and deliver the vandals to protective police custody.
Is there a line someone can cross and not deserve mercy, protection or empathy? yes, that’s why I march.
Will it make all our problems go away so we can go back to being comfortable again? No, that’s why I choose discomfort.
Is it worth it and is there hope? I’ll let my other photos answer that.

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