On Thursday, I attended a protest in Georgetown. When I got out of my car, I walked downtown alone, yet I immediately felt like I was a part of something bigger. This protest, as well as all of the protests occurring across the nation right now, represents frustration over inequality and the criminal justice system in our country. It was unlike any of the protests I had seen portrayed in the media or on the news. There was no pepper spray, no tear gas, and no violence. Just hundreds of people gathered together (with masks on) looking to make a difference. During a moment of silence to recognize the death of George Floyd, a police officer kneeled next to me and put his fist into the air with everyone else. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life, and I will never forget that moment.
On that same day, I also attended the vigil in Masconomo Park for George Floyd and those wrongfully killed. These two events opened my eyes, and I am thankful that it has driven me to become more active and take a more in-depth look at the issues in this country. Before the event began, I put my poster in the park for everyone to see as they attended or drove by. If you live in Manchester, you’ve probably noticed the abundance of signs scattered all over town. The Gender Equality Club from Manchester Essex High School began hanging posters on Monday, and as the week continued, more and more people began to add their posters to new locations in town.
Unfortunately, the posters did not stay up for long. The majority of the posters were placed on public property and continued to disappear or found in trash cans. I, and many others, would remove the signs from the trash cans and put them back up or create more to replace the damaged ones.
“The power of the people is stronger than the people in power.” This is the quote I put in the poster for the Georgetown protest and later hung up in Masconomo Park. I found it less than 24 then in the recycling, ripped into pieces, and covered with ice cream stains. This broke my heart, but more importantly, it fueled my fire. Seeing the posters in the dumpster doesn’t make me want to stop or feel defeated; it drives me to create change. I am privileged, and I will never understand the oppression, violence, and injustice that people of color are subject to daily. This does not mean I can’t and won’t do everything I can to put an end to racial injustice. We live in a predominantly white community, and we cannot stay silent, we must teach our community to normalize and promote diversity and not tear it down. We stand as one, and we need unity.
I duct-taped the poster and put it back downtown with a note, yet the next morning it had disappeared. Some are saying that these posters are “too political” and “too controversial.” Everyone deserves to be treated equally no matter what their race is, how is that a controversial statement in this country? How is ending racism controversial? We need to use our privilege to teach people that racism is not a political issue; it’s a humanitarian one. Destroying the poster is not going to stop the Black Lives Matter movement; it reinforces what says, “The power of the people is stronger than the people in power.” The signs around town, as well as the protest and the vigils occurring all across the country, are meant to raise public awareness and put a spotlight on racial injustice. It’s time for change, and it needs to start here in Manchester.
We need to do better.