#whitelivesmatter movement prevalent in Lewiston

One of three posters found on a bus stop.

One of three posters found on a bus stop.

One of three posters found on a bus stop.

Annabelle Ady, Opinion Editor

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I was at the Mtn. Dew skate park, looking for LCV Rocks and enjoying the warm weather on Sunday, May 8. As I was walking I looked up and noticed this white sheet of paper with large black font across it hung on a notice board. Naturally, I was curious and decided to check it out. It read: #whitelivesmatter, which confused me. Underneath it continued to explain further that white people need to speak out for their rights. It read:
“Our lives matter too. The media will not report it so we will remind you! As we have seen in the recent riots, we only have each other to count on. It is time to wake up and realize what is really going on. We need to stop accepting it. Our lives matter too. Stop being silent. Speak out. It is still your right to do so!”
It gave me a conspiracy theorist vibe. To me, it felt surreal to stand in front of a sign that was so blatantly racist that it didn’t make any sense. After I finished reading it, I looked over and saw a little girl learning to ride a bike, her parents behind her watching; she must have been 4 or 5 years old easily, and all I could think of was how it would be horrible if a kid read this and thought that it was true.
I made eye contact with the father, looked back at the poster and ripped it off of the board. He probably won’t ever know what it said, or what made me react in such a way. But that’s the point — I didn’t want anyone else to feel the disgust and guilt I felt after reading it.
I had a new objective: Look for more signs and take them down. I found another one, same message, stuck to the entrance of the park. Then there was another one at a bus stop, but this one had a much more outlined message — end minority entitlement — and this time it featured a bulleted list and a new hashtag. Each poster met a similar fate, each systematically crumpled and recycled.
It’s weird to think that there are people in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley — and the world — who truly hate people of different ethnicities and cultures. I never thought I would find myself in a situation where I had to speak out. I believe in being a pacifist and not shoving things in people’s faces. But I couldn’t do that in this situation. Sure, I have definitely been to a few protests, marches (specifically the Women’s March in January), and rallies. Each of those events were, to say the least, a bit heated if not scary.
So often with issues such as race, people tend to only hear what they want and nothing more. So when I made a post referencing this encounter at the park on Facebook, almost immediately my feed was flooded with comments asking why I don’t think white lives matter.
Now, I am going to say this before I continue: I, as a white teen in Idaho, personally believe that all lives matter, that everyone matters. But since #alllivesmatter was created to minimize racial issues, I will clarify that I don’t hate people of color.
The posters featured three hashtags: #whitelivesmatter, #blacklivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter. All were created to minimize the bigger issue of racial inequality. They were created in protest of the #blacklivesmatter movement. For this reason, the names are similar and they are popular among people who don’t necessarily believe that African Americans are lacking rights.
So why do all lives matter? Because we are all unique and can contribute to society no matter our skin color, ethnicity, occupation, sex and more. I believe that everyone matters and no one is better than the other because we are all on different journeys in life. Again, none are better or more important than the other.
The U.S. history classes at LHS just finished a month and a half of studying the civil rights movement.Yet many of my peers have shown that they still don’t understand how the #whitelivesmatter movement affects people of color. It’s racist. Even after intensely studying the civil rights movement, people in our community are still asking why people of color feel oppressed. Perhaps this is because racism today is not as glaringly obvious as it was in the 1960s. It’s not white-only drinking fountains anymore. It’s quieter than that and possibly more sinister.
Yes, I agree that our country has improved immensely when it comes to civil rights. But we can’t quite erase our history. One can’t deny the fact that even without white-only facilities, racism exists and it’s probably never going to go away.
There’s a fine line between being an advocate for something and completely taking over the movement. Things can get hijacked because too many people join with different agendas. But anyone can be an advocate for whatever they want. I’m a strong believer in standing up and speaking out against inequality. A comment on my Facebook post read, “love how you speak for African Americans when you aren’t one.” But here’s the thing:
You don’t have to be a person of color to believe that people of color deserve the same rights as those who aren’t.
I can believe in gay rights without being gay.
I can be pro-choice and never get an abortion.
You can participate in women’s marches even you are not a woman.
Prejudice is so ingrained within our society that maybe it will always be an issue — whether it be through racism, sexism or just downright hatred of anyone differing from societal norms. But just because it is so deeply ingrained within us it doesn’t mean I can’t tear down hatred when I see it.
Change starts with you. Be the change you want to see in the world, even if that’s cliché to say. Dismantle hatred, tear down posters, but never be silent. Never stop believing in the chance for change.

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#whitelivesmatter movement prevalent in Lewiston