The church has vowed to replace the sign and now it has a message for the vandal or vandals who defaced it.
The Rev. Dr. Katy Dwyer published the following open letter “to the person(s) who altered our sign” over the weekend, inviting them to join a conversation on racial justice at the church Monday night.
Altering the sign we placed on our lawn by deliberately cutting out the word “Black” from the phrase “Black Lives Matter” was a passionate expression. I can make assumptions about what you might have meant by this. However, I can only speculate. This open letter is an invitation for you to join our sacred conversation.
The conversation we have been having has been challenging, powerful, and vulnerable. Those of us who join in the conversation are not all of one mind. We are all learning and growing together. We agree with one another to speak about our own experience, to practice forgiveness, to respectfully challenge one another, and to assume good intentions.
I want to share with you what I heard through your action, and I welcome you to tell me if I am wrong. I will also share my response to what I think I am hearing. I sense anger in your passionate expression. Cutting out the “Black” in this sign sounds like you are shouting “Lives Matter. ALL Lives Matter!” I am aware that when the American Cancer Society is raising money or creating awareness about cancer, no one shouts “All Diseases Matter!” Perhaps you assume that our congregation does not value all lives. Perhaps you feel threatened in some way by positive attention given to the Black community.
Your action this week felt like a contribution to our conversation, and I want to extend the same commitments to you as I do to our other conversation partners from several races and cultures.
Our year-long sacred conversation on racial justice and our public witness that Black lives matter began from a place of compassion and curiosity. Compassion for the Black lives that are being killed, oppressed, and threatened. Curiosity about what our congregation and community might do to help create a more just and equal future.
We meet again this Monday at 7:30 p.m. The topic is Color-Blindness. Most white people think we have two choices: to be racist or to be colorblind. We will talk about whether there might be a more valuable third option.
I hope you will consider joining us. You will be welcome.
Grace and peace,
Rev. Dr. Kathryn N. Dwyer