Over 300 Maui residents attended a “paddle out” at Laniapoko Beach on Sunday to remember George Floyd, a black man who died while under Minneapolis Police custody.
Makawao resident Jennifer McGurn learned of the floating memorial through word of mouth.
McGurn posted photos and videos of the memorial on Facebook. It’s since been shared over 43,000 times.
“The feeling on the beach that day was incredible and true aloha. From comments I read, I think people just want beauty and light in their lives right now. It’s been a pretty dark time the last few months. First COVID-19, now this,” she said.
Wailuku resident Bailey Roberts, 31, organized the paddle out.
“When I initially planned it, my intention was to be anonymous,” Roberts explained.
Public speaking, she says, is not her strong suit.
“As much as I wanted to stay anonymous, I realized for the white people that did come to participate in that protest, that it was really important for them to see a white face, crying; uncomfortable; out of her comfort zone, pushing herself to try to do a small act that might have a resonant impact. Part of the message there was ‘get comfortable being uncomfortable.’
“Being born and raised here, I’m a white woman. I acknowledge, I understand that,” Roberts continued. “It made me think of all the ways our community takes action in our interpersonal relationships daily.”
She urges more people to “actively diversify the stories that influence your perspective on your life. Have conversations with people that don’t look like you. Who don’t think like you. Who don’t live like you. Witness their truth, their life story.”
Though feedback from her organized protest was largely positive, Bailey says she did receive some hate.
“I’m practicing a new approach in my interactions. Instead of just going, well, whoa, criticism!? And reacting to criticism. Instead, taking pause, and trying to learn. So in every conversation, if someone doesn’t agree with you and can contribute to your thought process? Learn.”
Organizers on Oahu will hold a “paddle out” in remembrance of George Floyd on Sunday, June 7 at 6 p.m. It will take place at Ala Moana Beach Park. Participants will meet near the volley ball courts.