For many years I’ve been standing on the bridge in Skowhegan with several other stalwarts every Sunday from noon to 1. We stand there with our signs promoting peace and justice. Lately several of our group has also been carrying signs that say, “Black Lives Matter.” Last week we were joined by a couple of young Trump supporters with signs that said, “All Lives Matter.” They were yelling anti-immigrant slogans at the passing cars. It felt a little threatening.

I tried, unsuccessfully, to engage them in dialogue. I wondered if they wondered who would pick their vegetables if all the immigrants were kicked out, but I somehow doubted that they ate many vegetables. Anyway, we all left at one as we do every week.

But the event has been lingering in my head, because I agreed with them at some level. I know their slogan has been used by racists to discount the Black Lives Matter movement but I also think that “All Lives Matter.” That’s why we’ve been standing on the bridge with our peace signs every week. We don’t like war. Afghan lives matter. Iraqi lives matter. Somali lives matter. Yemeni lives matter. Syrian lives matter. We’re horrified to contemplate the damage and death caused by our American bombs.

To get back to Black Lives Matter, the reason that folks are emphasizing the lives of black people is that we’ve recently seen so many cases of black people being killed by police. We’ve seen those crimes go unindicted and unpunished.

People aren’t trying to say that other lives don’t matter. Maybe what we really want to say is that black lives matter, too.

Abby Shahn


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