This was first published as a guest column in the Prescott Journal on June 28, 2018 under the title, “I Still Have a Black Lives Matter Sign.”
You might wonder why I’m including this on a writer/poet blog. A more political blog. Here’s why. My moral core – my belief in right and wrong and my understanding that I must use my privilege to speak out and do my part to dismantle the systems of oppression – this informs everything I do. Whether I’m parenting, writing, speaking in my community. This is part of who I am and informs all of my art and yes, “I still have a black lives matter sign.”
I have a Black Lives Matter sign.
I’m a 44-year-old white woman, married to a Swedish-Canadian immigrant. We have two kids – a boy and a girl.
We taped the Black Lives Matter sign to our porch bench because the last time it was on the lawn somebody stole it.
I put our Black Lives Matter sign up before the election in 2016. I put it up before a cop shot Philando Castile as he reached for his wallet. I put it up before a jury acquitted that cop of Philando’s murder.
I put a Black Lives Matter sign on our porch because my family and I believe that Black Lives Matter. We stand in support of all people who are asking that we change our criminal justice system – the system that disproportionately and negatively affects brown and black people.
When we put up our Black Lives Matter sign, our kids were 13 and 10 years old. We had a family discussion about what we wanted to say about our values and what we hoped for the world around us.
This is how we explained it – Let’s say my neighborhood has a house on fire. We all point and direct fire fighters to the house that’s on fire. “Here, look, this is where the emergency is.”
We don’t say – my house matters. Look at my house. My house might need attention, too.
We don’t say no other houses matter.
We say – this house, this one, right here is on fire and needs our attention.
By building a society where Black Lives Matter we will build a society with a shared humanity and the equality that we all deserve.
Remember how I said that our sign was stolen? I called the Prescott Police department to report it stolen. They listened. They sent a cop out to talk to us. Right away! My kids told the officer why we had a Black Lives Matter sign in our yard. He listened. He took a report. He told them we have the right to free speech and it was his job to protect that right. The officer followed up – he wanted to know if I had found the sign. I told him I replaced it. And I thanked him for his service and support of us.
If you are still reading, I want you to know I appreciate you listening. I don’t want to end with my words but instead, share and lift up the words of the organizers of Black Lives Matter – from their website blacklivesmatter.com –
“We acknowledge, respect, and celebrate differences and commonalities. We work vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people, and, by extension, all people. We intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting. We embody and practice justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.”