It was heartening to see the Black Lives Matter banner displayed at City Hall, but, when it disappeared after only a few days, many of us were confused and upset. Maybe Revere really doesn’t take the crisis of violence against people of color seriously. Maybe the City really does not have any intention to address inequities in public health, education, housing and income affecting a great number of Revere residents of color, immigrants and low income families. Black people are disproportionately dying both from police violence and from Covid-19. The BLM banner should be reinstated at City Hall and remind us all that until Black lives matter it will not be possible to claim that all lives matter.
While I appreciate Mayor Brian Arrigo for his good intentions, this is a time when behind the scenes initiatives are not enough. Hate speech graffiti in our community and large banners on City Hall will always receive more attention. When I called the Mayor’s office I was told that the BLM banner was removed in order to set up July Fourth decorations. What kind of message is delivered when the city chooses not display the red, white and blue alongside the Black Lives Matter banner?
The fact that the banner is controversial should not be viewed as only a bad thing. Different points of view present opportunities for dialogue and education. One reason the controversy, as well as racist attitudes persist, is because the dominant culture defaults to squelching controversy. City leaders and community members should be encouraging and engaging in these conversations. Yes it is uncomfortable. Yes most of us fear change. But this is a historic moment and if the Mayor and the Revere City Council truly appreciate the diversity of our city as they claim, they should provide public forums for the people of Revere to speak out about these important issues. Please put the banner back up on City Hall and leave it there.