Have you slept well? Last night, I was writing a letter to a journalist at a local newspaper. It is The Patriot Ledger. The following is this newspaper’s post on Facebook:
This flag made it to fire trucks in my city.
As a woman of color and a cancer patient and survivor—during the COVID-19 pandemic—and during an era of reckoning with racism—I have to pick and choose how I will invest my energy.
I really did not want to invest my energy in this “thin blue line flag” controversy because there are much deeper structural and systemic issues of racism in this country; however, I have to admit that this flag’s presence on fire trucks does not make me feel safe.
There is a difference between feeling uncomfortable and unsafe. Discussions of racism make some people feel uncomfortable; racism itself makes others feel unsafe. Do you understand the difference? There is a hierarchy and power difference between feeling uncomfortable and feeling unsafe. Depending on who you are, the issue of the the “thin blue line flag” might make you feel uncomfortable, but does it make you feel unsafe?
Last night, I felt uncomfortable and unsafe. What do I do to process my emotions? I write. In this case, I decided to write to the journalist listed in the local newspaper’s Facebook post on the “thin blue line flag.”
Here is what I shared:
Online I read The Patriot Ledger’s post about the “thin blue line flag,” which encouraged South Shore readers to reach out for you.
I am a Quincy resident who has listened to different perspectives on the “thin blue line flag.”
Some people say it is not political, but any national flag is inherently political.
Others say it supports Blue Lives Matter. With those connotations, it makes me feel uncomfortable. Do I want the police to be safe? Yes. Do I believe Black Lives Matter? Yes. With all of those factors considered, whenever I read about Blue Lives Matter, the consistent messaging is that Blue Lives Matter is a countermovement to Black Lives Matter. I am uncomfortable with this overly simplistic dichotomy that pits police lives against Black lives.
I believe that we as a nation need to rethink how law enforcement operates. That does not mean I do not value police officers’ lives. In fact, there are many systems that need to change in this country. For instance, I believe that we as a nation have to rethink education and its role in anti-Blackness and racial injustice. That does not mean I do not value educators’ lives. In fact, I am an educator. I work in a field that promotes critical thinking. Why would I not apply critical thinking to advocating for change across multiple systems from education to law enforcement?
Do you know what the saddest part of this “thin blue line flag” is? It reminds me that the current American flag was not intended to represent the rights and lives of all people in this country. The current flag was created in 1960. That preceded the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This flag was designed at a time that American systems were not granting basic rights to Black people and other marginalized groups. If you think about it, some would make that same argument about the present day.
People can debate all day about what the “thin blue line flag” means. Meanwhile, I am reflecting on the fact that the current American flag was not designed with the rights and lives of all of our country’s people in mind.
So yeah, this was on my mind before I went to sleep last night.
What was on your mind? What was the hugest stressor of your day? What was your most daunting challenge?
When you consider all of the problems to be solved in the world, which ones are your priorities and why?
Where does mobilizing change to address anti-Blackness and racism fall on your priority list? Why do you prioritize it in that way?