Sunday afternoon while cycling in my neighborhood listening to the radio as the Bills’ announcer John Murphy play by play set the stage for a December heartbreak, I passed a yard sign I’d never seen in Brighton, simply stating: Black Lives Matter.
As a member of the Unite Rochester blog my antennae beeped, so I asked Michael Boucher, who put up the placard about ten days ago, what the sign was all about.
Michael, a social worker at the St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center, has been involved in racial justice work for many years. Michael is a member of a local #blacklivesmatter movement group called B.L.A.C.K. (Building Leadership and Community Knowledge). This group, especially its young leaders and activists have really shaped and influenced him. BLACKlife585
The sign on our lawn is a small attempt to show some solidarity with the struggle, to say that it matters to us. It is also a reminder to me to be active in the struggle every day. Yard signs don’t change things, however. Action does. Putting up a yard sign does nothing to change structures or people’s lives if I don’t put in the work that must accompany it.
For us, it was important to have a sign like this in Brighton – to tell people that Black Lives Matter here too, and they need to matter everywhere. The sign is really an extension of the work and commitments that my wife, Lynne, and I hold and reminds us of the work that we need to keep doing on ourselves and in the world.
But putting up a yard sign is nothing that deserves congratulation. People of color have collectively been telling us this for hundreds of years. The message isn’t new, and we didn’t start it and the work isn’t even close to being finished around racial equality/equity.
The sign has generated a few conversations, but mostly it’s just meant to be a reminder. Sure, I’d love to see more Black Lives Matter signs in Brighton and all throughout the suburbs. But I’d rather that people support organizations like B.L.A.C.K. or Teen Empowerment and become more involved in anti-racism work where they live and work.
So far the sign — meant to be welcoming — has succeeded. I would not have met Michael and Lynn and learned of the work they do. And I’ve already gone to the B.L.AC.K. website.
Michael is not sure yet how long he will keep up the sign. If it’s still there at playoff time, hopefully I’ll cycle by listening to John Murphy preparing us for a February heartbreak.
To get your own sign blacklivesmatteryardsignproject.wordpress.com/
UPDATE: today (9/24) I noticed Mike added a second sign and two other signs just down the road.