On Monday, 11th July, I was among the many people profoundly moved by Jonathan Bachman’s photo of Iesha Evans. Like everyone else, I interpret it through the filter of personal bias and beliefs. Therefore, I see it not only as a powerful symbol for the Black Lives Matter movement but also as a heart-opening image of the difference between the projection of power over and the manifestation of spiritual power.
When I read Iesha Evans’s first brief comments on her experience, I was not in the least surprised that she described herself as a vessel for God’s work.
Her grace in that moment and in everything I’ve seen of her public appearances since stands in sharp contrast to the reaction of the UK’s second woman prime minister after the horror perpetrated in Nice by a violent and disturbed man of Tunisian descent. Theresa May stated her intention to double Britain’s security efforts.
It is so much easier to vilify the hated and feared Other than to search for the humanness behind the Other’s actions but it is there. It is always there. To quote the late Jo Cox MP, ‘We have far more in common than that which divides us.’
Seeing the photo from the street in Baton Rouge brought two other images to mind. The well-known one was that of the man who walked in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square in June 1989. The private one is the mural She Stands her Ground which was dedicated to ‘all the women named and unnamed who work for the world and for others.’
It was painted on a cottage wall some time in 2008 and was whited out in 2011. The central figure was shown mediating energy from the sky and offering it to the earth. (I was told that the wonkiness in her proportions was due to the difficulty of painting on vertical brickwork.) Among the women named on it were Ang Sung Su Kyi and Dr Vandana Shiva. I am quite sure that if the mural were still there, Iesha Evans’s name would have been added to it.