Learning & Teaching
By Mercedes Soto
On Sunday, May 31st, my partner, 12-year-old son and I participated in the “Wee Chalk the Walk: A Family Day of Action for Black Lives,” to chalk messages of love, hope and support on our city sidewalks. We walked up the block to City Hall, where we wrote the names of many, but not all, of the Black Americans who have been killed at the hands of police and vigilantes. A photo of our chalk memorial was included in a Cambridge Day article.
On Monday, June 1st, City Hall reopened to staff. As I returned from my morning walk, I noticed that someone had erased the word “Black” from “Black Lives Matter.” My first reaction was shock, anger, then (after a few deep breaths) curiosity. Why are we still having to explain what we mean when we say Black Lives Matter?
Nearly seven years ago, after the acquittal of the aggressor who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin while he was walking home from the store, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi founded the Movement for Black Lives and first used the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
Our friend recently wrote: “It’s the recent trifecta of a black man killed by vigilantes while out jogging, a black woman killed by police in her bed even though they had already caught the person suspected of a crime, and a black man brutally murdered in the public eye by a police officer who was known for brutality yet remained unchecked by Minneapolis’ government that has the rage and tears spilling over in the black community. All of this happening with the president of this country eagerly using the long-held code word for black men to incite white supremacist reaction. Every black mother cried when they heard Mr. Floyd pleaded for his life and wanted his mother … it was all of our black sons calling out for us.”
Each time these acts of state sponsored violence happen, the black community is re-traumatized. The deep wounds are opened and the heartbreak laid bare. The righteous anger burns as people take to the streets once more to demand justice and change. How are we explaining what is happening to our children in ways that are age appropriate?