Shortly after the 2016 elections I found myself, my wife and daughter (almost 5yo), and a couple of thousand other people down in Seattle for an event around Green Lake. It was a moment of everyone joining together, a show of solidarity. Or something. I live in a very liberal area so you can imagine people were feeling pretty down and not sure what to do after the election.
There was a playground within walking distance from where we stood, so afterwards our daughter was swinging from bars and running around with other little kids, as they do. I remember seeing one child with curly dark hair wearing a shirt that said Black Lives Matter on it. I looked to see if their parents were wearing similar clothing.
Of course they weren't. Why weren't they? Why weren't any adults wearing this message? Why wasn't I? I agreed that Black Lives Matter. We were all outraged by what we were seeing happening to black people in America. But why did I never see expressions of this outrage in the physical world? And when I do, why are the adults having the children wear the clothes?
It was embarrassment or a fear of being judged, I surmised. Was that the reason I had seen no adults, in real life, sharing this message? Was this why I wasn't proclaiming this for everyone to see?
It gnawed at me. The memory of this little kid wearing a BLM shirt and the shame I felt for not doing the same never left my mind.
So I made some bumper stickers. 3 inches by 10 with black text on a white background. Black Lives Matter. Easy to read and hard to miss. It's the only bumper sticker on my car, and for years I've been driving with it, on the lookout for reactions. I kept the extras in my glove compartment, hoping someone would say something as I parked. Maybe exchanging some sort of positive dialog and I'd be able to hand out the extras and they would show up on other cars.
Every little reminder to my white neighbors would help, I thought. Hello random white person behind me in an SUV- have you thought about your privilege today? It's a bumper sticker. It's not much, but it's something.
Over three years now, and I still have all of the unused bumper stickers in my car. Nobody has said a thing. I was being foolishly optimistic hoping I could convince or talk to someone about it.
But this is supposed to be a post about what's happening in these socially distant days.
Life continues, for most of us.
We apparently have a small family of rabbits living off our grass and clover and vegetable garden. Three small ones and at least one adult. Kirstin has tried to block them from entering under our fence, but she has found out it doesn't work very well from the videos I show her of bunnies squeezing on through.
She's torn, as am I. She's worried about the strawberries we grow every year and I'm slightly pissed about the decapitated pepper plants. But the bunnies are so damn cute! Our dog is super curious about them as well, and wants to be their giant friend. There may or may not be a bunny relocation effort in the near future, depending on Kirstin's tolerance. I'm fine with them, enough peppers will survive.
I haven't had a pizza takeout for a number of weeks because I started a new project to turn our little tool shed into a bouldering cave. It feels good to be pulling on climbing holds again, and to hang from a 50° wall, even if it is only 3 or 4 feet off the ground. This combined with traversing on our retaining wall is keeping me in climbing shape. I'm still hopeful that the climbing gym will open up again at some point this summer, but I have no doubt that it'll be closed again in the fall when the second wave hits.
And so life goes on. Waiting for what feels like forever and at the same time, no time at all. Hoping a vaccine will come sooner rather than later.
I guess I lied earlier about how many BLM bumper stickers I have left. This past week 6 of them went to new homes, via Kirstin, who let people know they were available on a local moms mailing list.
I hope to see them on cars around town. I hope to see more reminders for everyone, everywhere, that Black Lives Matter. I'm hopeful for change, but if things continue as they are it'll only happen one inch at a time, one beating after another. Another murder. And then things will quiet down again.
A bumper sticker feels pointless and more than a little silly. I know I can do more than this piddly little thing and who am I, hiding up North away from all the violence saying "Hey look at me I'm doing my part!". I'm not doing all I can. Barely any of us are, and some of use are actively pushing against change.
But I hope that even if it makes only one person stop and think for a few seconds, or to feel some shame, it's done something positive. It's too easy to move on and forget about injustice for a while once the flames burn out. I hope that after the current protests die down and the outrage is put away for a while, I hope to see more reminders for everyone. Let's not forget and let's be mindful of our prejudices and make changes every day, and let us keep on reminding our white neighbors and friends that America is still awash in racism. And let's vote for people who will make change in the right direction, and let's push back and call out racist behavior when we see it