By Imagining America | January 26, 2015

headshot-300x287By Naphtali Leyland Fields, PAGE Fellow 2014-2015

I stand in the cold holding the sign with numb hands. A line of us stretched along the main road of a small town in the South.

‘#blacklivesmatter’, ‘RIP Mike Brown’ and ‘White Silence = White Consent’

These are the signs we are holding. Cars honk in solidarity.

I watch drivers, their eyes flick towards us curiously, then glance away as they accelerate past.

We’re just another example of the (you name it) liberal agenda, black agenda, terrorist agenda, communist agenda, degenerate agenda.

A woman drives by and screams, “I support our policemen!” and we are silent.

I want to ask her if she has a son.

I want to ask her if she’s afraid for his life when he walks down the street in the daylight.

I want to ask her if she’s ever looked at the world with eyes that aren’t cushioned in the comfort of white skin.

The woman beside me holds the sign as I shuffle my feet, blow on my hands.

Photographers step into traffic to get a stronger image, and when I blink at the flash I imagine the beef stew in the crockpot, my brother’s evasion, my facebook feed that explodes with black grief and white silence.

The hour ends and we smile. Shuffle around on the curb and hug friends and strangers.

‘Until next time’, we say. There’s truth in that. A man piles up the signs; one by one we hand them over.

‘See you later’, we say, knowing it will be too soon.