I was so very proud of the town I live in yesterday. New Hampshire is not a state known for its diversity. In the 2010 census we were 94% white. The few African-Americans who live in our town tend to stand out. Yesterday there was a protest in town for Black Lives Matter.
I’ve sat in a restaurant and listened to a local use the word ni**er in casual conversation. There are a lot of racists around. I didn’t move here to “get away” from certain people, as I’ve also heard in conversation; I moved here for the beauty of the mountains, smaller population, being able to swim in lakes and rivers, and a general better life for my kids. Long Island had gotten too expensive for us and too crowded. Unfortunately, that move came with a lack of diversity.
I didn’t know what to expect. Online it said about 200 people responded that they were attending. I got there early and by 2:45 there weren’t many cars in sight for the protest at 3:30. Well, if there were just a few of us, that was okay too.
On the end about 500 people showed up.
We stood along Main Street – Route 16 – and held signs and waved at cars going by. Many honked in support and more than a few were local trucking companies. I only heard one negative yell to all we were doing during my time standing there. My one fear had been it bringing out the local racists. I know there are plenty of them. Yesterday, though, it seemed we had them outnumbered in this mostly-white small-town in northern New Hampshire.
Yes, I was pleasantly surprised. For once my cautious optimism proved correct. There may be a lot of racists up here. Is it more than anywhere else? I don’t know. However, the good people are standing up to be counted and letting our voices be heard. It wasn’t just the 500 or so demonstrators that came out; it was all of the cars that honked in support going by.
The woman I was standing next to wondered what it would feel like to be a black person and to see this. There were a few at the protest, but I saw people driving by in cars and I can only try to describe their faces. I think they were pleasantly shocked seeing this large crown in a small town out here protesting. Some of them might have been locals driving by who didn’t expect to see this many people. They waved and smiled as they went by. One girl made up a quick sign and while her friend drove, she stood out of the sunroof in the car with it and drove by several times, horn honking. Some were likely tourists who were shocked to see 500 people in the small town with signs that said things like NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE.
In the end there was peace. The police weren’t even around for it. At one point I heard a siren and thought “here they come” but it was an ambulance on their way to the hospital (the ambulance was not blocked despite what some people have reported. I was there – I saw it.) After about an hour of waving signs, we listened to a couple of guys play some music and then had 8:43 of silence for the time the police officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck. That’s a long time.
I didn’t have a sign but I wore my NO H8 short and hat. I even met our family doctor at the protest (my gaiter slipped while I was holding up my phone for the photo – don’t bug me about that). I had wanted my grand-daughter to go but my daughter wouldn’t let me bring her. My son decided not to go – I think more because of being out with so many people when he is immunocompromised.
But my town made proud yesterday, in more ways than I expected. If a small, mostly-white New Hampshire town can do this, so can many other places.