Sometimes progress looks like the Cha Cha Slide. It smells like grilled burgers and sounds like hundreds of passionate voices muffled only by the masks they wear.
While the slide to the left, slide to the right we saw Saturday at Houdini Plaza were just a couple of steps in a long march toward equality, they and the people who took them seemed to usher in a fresh breath of optimism.
As hundreds of people gathered for the late day protest/rally/clothing and supply drive/picnic, they generated a collective feeling of empathy and precise thinking.
Several people wheeled well-stocked wagons through the plaza, offering free water, sunscreen, snacks and hand sanitizer.
Others carried signs with a variety of carefully worded messages that together told the story of a community willing to do the work to recognize issues and work to solve them.
“Let’s get it right this time,” read one. “When you don’t see color then you can’t see patterns,” said another.
K the Barber encouraged people to help themselves to free burgers and hot dogs fresh off a grill next to the stage and then the rally kicked off with a dance party.
“Can I get one police officer to get up here and dance?” one of the organizers called out and two of them, Officers Moderson and Rosetti obliged. They, along with Appleton’s Diversity and Inclusion Coorinator Karen Nelson joined everyone in the Cha Cha Slide.
Most of the crowd wore masks and made good use of the readily available hand sanitizer, but I did worry about coronavirus spread so I kept some distance and left after an hour and a half or so.
But, I’m glad I went and I’m proud to live among people who work hard to foster a community built on mutual respect and inclusion.