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Amazing grace over fear, hate

EDITOR:

I was at the peaceful protest June 28 in front of Charmaine’s Beauty Bar in Iron Mountain, hosted by Charmaine Cain, believed to be the only Black business owner in Iron Mountain, and her cousin, Tia, from Milwaukee. This was the fourth peaceful demonstration in Iron Mountain for unity and equality. The purpose of these gatherings is to bring attention to how our justice system in some circumstances does not serve people of color in communities around the country, as the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 demonstrated.

Our gathering in downtown Iron Mountain was a powerful experience, as we received many honks of support –even donuts and pizzas were delivered — but also unfortunately a smattering of obscenities were yelled and physically displayed. Two people stopped to share their fear-based, unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about the Black Lives Matter movement. You can reference blacklivesmatter.com and go to the “ABOUT” link or see the info at the end of my letter.

After about three hours, a young man came to join us, holding his sign that said “F__! BLACK Lives MATTER”. Charmaine’s cousin, Tia, surrounded this young man with love, asking him to stop shouting when his vulgarity got out of hand because there were children present. Tia again de-escalated the situation and persevered to connect with him. Twenty minutes later, she and the man were conversing and laughing as if they were old acquaintances. I was astounded at her grace. It was inspiring to witness this woman’s calm resolve to communicate peacefully, proving that only voices of love work. This is so challenging, because the blaring voices of fear try so hard to drown it out.

The presence of the young man, filled with fear and hate, is the reason we have to stand up for those whose voices are not heard because of deep-seated bigotry and people who idle in complacency. Although racism is part of our history in the U.S., it has no place in our society — or any society — and the exposure of it is key to healing our country.

The co-founders of BLM suggest if the term Black Lives Matter makes you uncomfortable, say Black Lives Matter Too instead.

A brief history of the BLM movement: #BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation Inc. is a global organization in the U.S., U.K. and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. Combatting and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy.

There is, however, a conspiracy theory circulating on social media. It has been linked to online trolls whose agenda is to spread racist propaganda with flyers that appear to be authentic. Their purpose is to smear and derail the Black Lives Matter movement. There are some very bad actors in our world hoping to keep inequality and brutality alive. Fact checking is extremely necessary in this age of social media.

It is our responsibility to leave this Earth better than we found it. Much has been changed in our country through peaceful protests and love’s grace.

Beth Provencher

Iron Mountain

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