Putting up Black Lives Matter signs at our home was an easier choice than participating in the Wear Out the Silence campaign.
Wear Out the Silence is a campaign organized by two Bay Area women active in Showing Up for Racial Justice to support the Black Lives Matter movement. The campaign asks White people across the United States to wear shirts with the phrase “Black Lives Matter.”
My family put up a Black Lives Matter sign last May. It was taken down and thrown behind some bushes. We put it back up. Someone defaced it by covering up the “Black,” replacing it with “All.” “All” was decorated quite elaborately with red, white, and blue designs.
We restored the sign and purchased more. But having the sign at our home is easier than wearing a shirt on Fridays. Wearing the shirt has led to much more one-on-one engagement than the sign. While our next door neighbor engaged in conversation with us about our sign and even agreed to put one up, the only other person in 6 months who has commented on the sign was a Black delivery person who said “I noticed your sign. Thank you.” Wearing the shirt, I often get a “thank you.” I am prepared for hostility, but am lucky to have not received any yet other than some judgmental looks. But wearing the shirt makes me feel vulnerable. If someone wants to respond negatively, my body is now on the line.
At the grocery store one Friday, I saw a woman wearing an “All Lives Matter” shirt. It made me glad that I was wearing my Black Lives Matter shirt. I don’t know if that woman saw me, but others did in the store. Sure, they are just shirts, but wearing them is a way of identifying ourselves as allies and challenging the hostility being perpetuated challenging the legitimacy of the movement.
Wearing the shirt every week also demonstrates the importance of the movement to my child. Even though I have a toddler, when seeing the signs and shirt, my kid will chant “Black Lives Matter!”
Wearing the shirt brings the message from my home to my community. I appreciate the conversations that have started since I started wearing the shirt on Fridays, and I feel solidarity with others wearing the shirt.
I am a part of a movement fighting racial injustice. Will you join me?
By Debra Guckenheimer, PhD