On a “Black Lives Matter” sign in Brighton

On a “Black Lives Matter” sign in Brighton

David Kramer [Photo: Michael Boucher]

September 15th, 2015

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.

also see Against prejudging in Pittsford at Lock 62

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.

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9/24/16

other-signs

9/24/16

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/

on Brighton and diversity Celebrating diversity on the Fourth of July at Meridian Centre Park in Brighton and  At the Brighton Town Hall 1957 mural with Sandra Frankel

UPDATE: today (9/24) I noticed Mike added a second sign and two other signs just down the road.

Against prejudging in Pittsford at Lock 62

About The Author

dkramer3@naz.edu

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, and the CITY.  My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.

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