Day Trip To Cape Cod And Protesting For BLM
I have been wanting to write this post for a while but felt like I had to do a lot of learning and processing before I could really write about it.
On May 31, my roommates and I drove to Cape Cod and spent the first half of the day at the beach. Then we drove back to Boston to attend a Black Lives Matter protest.
The beach was lovely. I feel like we were in a bit of a rut in our quarantine and weren’t really taking advantage of summer in New England (seeing as how this is the first summer most of us have lived here). I’ve always wanted to go to Cape Cod and finally got a chance to go when one of my roommates and I decided to drive there on a whim. Realizing how quick of a drive it is, I convinced the rest of my roommates to do a day trip to get out of the house and get some beach air. We decided to go to Chatham Beach because it is right next to a lighthouse (I am lowkey obsessed with lighthouses, I think they’re so pretty), it was free and there was easy parking. We were worried it was going to be too crowded to safely social distance, but surprisingly very few people were there. It was a little too cold for bikini weather, but it was lovely reading-in-a-sweatshirt weather. We had a nice time taking pictures and soaking in the sun, despite the slight wind.
May 31 was six days after the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, and the Black Lives Matter Movement was in full force on social media and on the streets. My roommate Mikaela really wanted to go to the Black Lives Matter protest to show support, and so we went. Honestly, I was a little worried about it. I had seen many of my friends protesting in DC getting tear gassed and fighting the cops. I had seen pictures of shops in DC being destroyed. And on top of that, I was worried about being in close contact with others amidst a pandemic.
I voiced my concern during the car ride back to Boston. I asked why the protests were turning violent, why were people destroying businesses, it all seemed counterproductive to me. Mikaela explained that the police are the ones being violent in many of these protests and are using a lot of unnecessary tactics to “calm crowds.” She described how white people should be the ones using their bodies to physically protect Black people because they are less likely to get shot at, tear gassed, etc. Black people are targets and white people need to use their privilege to protect them.
We also discussed how Black people (and others) were vandalizing and breaking store fronts because they are upset and they are showing the world that racial inequality is a problem that can not be ignored anymore. Black people are dying everyday in this country and they don’t feel safe here a lot of the time. We also talked about how destroying property is a side effect of mobbing/mass protesting, stores getting broken into isn’t always intentional. The important part of the protests is to show people that things are not okay, and if property gets destroyed along the way then so be it, it’s a side effect that’s worth it. Mikaela ended the conversation by saying that if destroying store fronts is how Black people want to force the world to face racism in this country, or if it’s a side effect of protesting injustice, then she supports it. This conversation really changed a lot for me.
I was scared and nervous to go to this protest because of potential violence, but that is how Black people feel everytime they are out in public because it is too easy for them to be blamed for some sort of crime. So I can be uncomfortable and feel somewhat vaguely unsafe for one day because I know it does not compare to how Black people feel every day in this country. And yes, I do feel a little bad that businesses were affected because of this, but if that is what is needed to make some LONG overdue change in this country, then so be it. I would much rather THINGS get destroyed than more people.
And so we protested.
I am so glad we did, I have never felt more like an American than in that moment. Everyone wore masks, we all tried our best to keep 6 feet apart from others as we walked through Back Bay, chanting for justice, defunding the police, and racial equality.
This has not been the end of my learning/unlearning about racism in America, and this has not been the last thing I do to support the Black Lives Matter movement, and I am not going to stop personally fighting until Black people don’t have to live in fear anymore in this country.