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A Summer awakening

I remember the feeling of uncertainty at the beginning of the shelter in place order. 

I am a musician, a San Francisco native, “a twenty something” recent graduate of SFSU, father of two. 

A week before the COVID-19 quarantine, while I was on a plane coming back from a gig, I worried that I had the virus and that I could infect my family. 

My partner is a kindergarten teacher. That same week, the Department of Public Health informed her that a student in her class was living with a person confirmed to have COVID-19. I was scared. I had no idea what was to come and if I had contracted the disease or even spread it. 

So many questions and seemingly no answers.

After realizing that we would be stuck at home indefinitely, I came to terms with our new reality and looked for the good in it. 

As I sat, quarantined and watching from my window, I saw more families walking and playing together.

Outside, I met more of my neighbors than ever before and engaged in genuine conversation with cashiers and fellow shoppers when at the market. The country was forced to take a break from the rat race and stand still. It took a pandemic for us to regain our humanity.

As we acclimated to our new normal, the nation took another blow as we watched George Floyd take his last breath. What followed was the most significant protest movement in decades.

Protesters against racism and police violence march past a Department of Public Health flyer reminding people to wear masks and social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. San Francisco, June 3, 2020. Photo: Jennifer Hsu

“Your generation has shaken the world, the entire world!” a 71-year old Mission native told me. “What is happening is even more powerful than the civil rights era.”

The pandemic has highlighted the inequities of this country and put them under a microscope. 

While some could treat the quarantine like a vacation, others lost jobs and homes. The poor, Black, immigrant and undocumented populations have been abandoned, being forced even further underground, doing anything to make a dollar.

But of this dire need came a camaraderie. Even if only mildly, we were forced to abandon the individualistic creed of the nation and be compatriots.

The death of George Floyd was a catalyst. It was the water that broke the dam, the straw that broke America’s back. The wall of silence fell and millions chose to speak truth to power. Millions screamed his last words, “I CAN’T BREATHE.” 

The souls of our ancestors awoke our dormant spirits and we sprung to action. The entire nation now seemed to be lit up with the fires of love and rage that only are understood by those seeking change. 

Revolution is an act of love. Love causes us to act, even in a pandemic.

I thank everyone who has gone to a rally, put a sign in their window, brought down a statue, or screamed “fuck you” to a cop. Thanks to those who have been beaten and arrested, shot with tear gas and rubber bullets, to those who sit in cells now and those who lost their lives over these last few weeks. 

Those efforts will not go unnoticed. Because of them, I have hope when I had none. 

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