At least three Outer Cape residents who chose to make a statement about racial justice have found their front yard “Black Lives Matter” signs stolen or defaced (see story on page A7). Dispiriting as this news is to report, one can argue that our local vandals have done us a favor.
Barbara Rushmore of Provincetown, whose sign was stolen earlier in the summer, assumed someone from out of town had done it. But last week she received an anonymous letter from someone who clearly is acquainted with her, expressing blatantly racist sentiments.
We like to think of ourselves, here on the Outer Cape, as an enlightened community. But these events force us to ask, are we really all that different from the rest of the U.S.? Have the fearful, dark beliefs that led the nation to this sorry state simply been pushed out of sight here, to be expressed only in midnight spray paint and anonymous letters?
Those beliefs clearly are out there, and it would be easy to feel a little paranoid about them.
That wasn’t Barbara Rushmore’s reaction. At age 95, she takes a longer view of the struggle.
“I think it’s important for people to know there are prejudiced people around us,” she told me this week. “We have a big job to do to convince them not to be so prejudiced. It’s very, very hard. I’ve fought against it for 80 years, easy. But I see great progress being made. We’re in a different world now. Because of Black Lives Matter, we’re talking about the problem.”
The news this week includes several signs that fear is giving way to compassion and truth.
Neighbors have demanded fairness for the widow and children of Joe Abbott, the beloved tennis pro at Willy’s Gym, and their activism appears to have moved the attorney general to take action in the case.
Families are speaking out about what it is like to be living in difficult and vulnerable conditions with their young children. Working parents whose children are required to stay home are not happy with last spring’s failed distance learning mandate. Maybe that’s a starting point towards an inclusive solution to keeping children safe and cared for.
Fishermen and scientists, who have not always seen each other as allies, are sharing the work of understanding sharks as an essential part of our ecosystem.
A young Sen. Julian Cyr has shown courage in calling out a powerful member of his own political party for condoning, and perhaps even instigating, an appalling smear campaign against a gay challenger.
The fight against injustice won’t be won easily, as Barbara Rushmore will tell you. She’s not backing down.